lola guerrero

50-something empty-nest-search-for-God-and-happiness with more than a dash of humor

Attach Your Oxygen Mask First

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These are days of NO MORE KIDS at home, 90-year-old relatives to care for, and stumbling around trying to find open doors of opportunities that will eventually lead me to my dream career. I have to remind myself to breathe. Breathing was always automatic for me, since birth. I’m sure it is for you, too. The other day I was in bed and I told myself, “Lola, breathe.” It caught me off guard. Wow, since when did my mind tell me to take a breath? I realized I wasn’t putting myself in the #1 slot on the TO DO List.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, it was important for me to take time out. I did that by calling our neighborhood sitter, Holly, for half the day. I had the day to play golf or exercise or, better yet, attend Nordstrom’s half-yearly sale. I didn’t have to remind myself to breathe. I knew how to put myself first. Raising my boys was not a tug-of-war in my heart. I loved being home with them, catering to their every need, and watching them grow up. I was their mom. No one else could do it.  I knew that, so it felt okay to call a sitter and take a break. Taking care of myself like this came naturally.

Now when my mother or aunt wants something from me or asks me to take them to the doctor or to Safeway to pick up their prescription, I get irritated. Why am I irritated? I guess it’s because I feel like I already raised two active boys. I have done my job. I’m not an only child. Can’t someone else step in?

There’s something not quite right here. If you are like me–50 and menopausal–you have aging parents and aunts. I tend to assume that I am the only one who can do the job.

My Wisdom Fairy Felicia taps me on the shoulder. “All you do is say YES without thinking. When you were raising the boys, you called a sitter so that you could care for YOU. “With the boys there really was only one mom.  But with your elders, you need to remember that you are not the only qualified person in your family. You hear your ego with its very big “tsk, tsk, tsk.” You allow it to judge you. Listen. Put your oxygen mask on first before you put it on others. Get it?”

She has a point. No wonder I’m having to remind myself to breathe. I’m out of oxygen!

This is what I’m aware of. When we do it all ourselves, we don’t give others the opportunity to step in and help. However, it’s mind boggling what happens when there is a need for help or a ride. I’ve noticed siblings and friends disappear. They don’t answer their cell phones. They have been kidnapped by UFOs.

This awareness is upsetting. It makes me long for a happy pill to erase how I feel. But, it’s all because of one simple thing. I do not step back and ask myself, “Can someone else contribute their time?” My husband tells me, “Do what you can and leave the rest to others.” Okay, I’ll do that. I won’t become a ball of yarn so tightly wound up that I end up yelling at the wrong person.

I’ll take a breath.

Last month, I finally opened my mouth and told my mother and relatives what’s what. I gave them my schedule of availability. I can drive them anywhere Monday through Thursday. The result? I have regained my life. I’m happier. I can breathe freely . . . Now, I get to schedule my errands, pay bills, and clean the condo. I get to do FUN stuff like taking long walks with my husband along the beach, jogging, blogging, writing, or having lunch with my BF.

Now, I look forward to seeing my relatives and mother. I’m pleasant. It’s a gift when you are able love yourself first. So, please attach your oxygen mask first before you attach it to others.

When was the last time you took TIME OUT?

Dear God, I know that we have to take care of our loved ones especially when they can’t drive, they’re half blind, and can’t walk as fast as they used to. As women we have so much on our plates that it overwhelms us. Guide us to step back and pray to you for help and patience. Refuel our spirits with your positive energy. Let us know that it’s not a sin to put ourselves first. Thank you for my health. Thank you for a car that runs smoothly. Thank you for giving me a heart of compassion. Amen. Lola

Author: lolaguerrero

50 something, mother of two, married, grandson named Napoleon. Love to go to the gym, watch films, act, write, jog, walk 10 miles with my husband, wine and travel. I"m a double tall, NF latte with half a pump of mocha with whip cream.

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