We all need maintenance

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My Momma: The glue in our family

There are so many incredible women in my life. Beautiful, remarkable, talented, and really genuinely care about the people in their lives. It amazes me the lengths they will go through to take care of the people in their lives, but then totally neglect their own health and their needs. It is so difficult to believe after all this time the guilt and shame built into our roles as a woman, and especially as mothers. I am not a mother, but a daughter, sister, and friend to many. I watch from the outside, which can be more telling than inside sometimes. I watch these monoliths of strength hold up their families in ways that would make super glue want to patent them. They spend most of their days devoted to keeping their families safe, well fed, educated, and well adjusted. The culture of sacrifice pervades incessantly, to the point their always standing, always the last to eat at dinner time, and even feel guilty when they are sick. I thought that was an old way of thinking, but it is so prevalent they even make Nyquil commercials about it.

I get it. I really do, society says that if you spend any time on yourself that you are selfish. It isn’t men either, we do this to ourselves. Our moms, grandmas, and great grandmas gave so much of themselves. We feel this urge to be productive, useful, and loving at all times. It is not just a current expectation it is a sociological imperative. My grandma had surgery to remove cancer on her nose in the morning, and much to my dismay, that afternoon was making my Grandpa a sandwich.  My Mom still can’t take a day off and all of the kids are grown and moved out of the house. My sister in law who is the best mom I have ever seen, felt guilty last week because she was so sick she couldn’t make breakfast. She has a very competent husband, my strapping brother, who makes a very delicious breakfast. I know, I have eaten his biscuits and gravy and they are better than my own momma’s (Please don’t tell her.) My nephew is probably better taken care of than any child in the world, and that is not Okie exaggeration.

I am not making a case for neglecting of children or any other responsibilities. I am trying to impress upon my sisters, mothers, and friends to stop putting your needs last and please breakup with the guilt monster.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.” –That’s from the CDC website

I believe that there is just too much. We have too much in our lives anymore. We need an exhaust vent. I am not a parent but I need my alone time. I need to do things that make me feel autonomous. My hubby and I are eerily close, but we both need time off. He will play video games all day if he wants. He doesn’t need to be productive. He understands the need to vent the steam, and doesn’t feel guilty about it.

Everyone works now, and I am a feminist so I am loving that, but with women still shouldering most of the household responsibilities it means most of those women are over worked and stressed. Why is there guilt when a day off is needed? Why do we feel like we have to explain our time? I wish my Mom was more indulgent. It is not selfish, its maintenance.

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I’ve begun to really rely on my yoga maintenance. It makes my mind calm down. My muscles relax and my heart be more kind to my loved ones.

Even inanimate objects require maintenance. Cars need their oil changed. Houses need gutters cleaned and filters changed. Don’t we deserve better than inanimate objects? Please, if you are reading this, find something you love doing that is all yours and take time out to do it. Even if it is super small like twenty minutes a day, please make sure it is yours and that you feel amazing after you do it. Maintain your sanity, and in turn your heart and soul. I have been doing yoga, and I love a nice long bath. My sister likes the hard core stuff like rowing machines. Art is fun, meditation, journaling, or reading, even just sitting down with a trashy magazine is good. Women, mommas especially, need restorative time to themselves or even time with friends. Please if you feel guilty call me. I will tell you it is okay. If you need permission, I will tell you how much you deserve to indulge. It’s not selfish. It is maintenance.

I have been hired as exercise’s PR representative

I am lying face down on the itchy carpet in my apartment wondering if they have replaced it since Clinton was in office. Brad is gasping and grunting trying to move himself into the next position. No this isn’t coitus on the floor. We are going through a series of stretches every morning and evening in order to decrease the muscle pain I have been going through. Right now it is an amalgamation of all the stretching we did in high school and some of the yoga moves I did in first year stage movement. We are stiff and breathing heavy. I have problems when trying to stretch my arms and shoulders. My shoulder s pop and resist. Husband has resistance when doing the bend and hang stretch. It isn’t glamorous or easy for us. We are just trying to get started. The TV is primed for the show we are going to watch after and the only sounds are my breathing heavy and Brads exertion grunts. Not exactly the most restful environment. I think we need to change that.

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What my husband affectionately calls the stretching and farting pallet.

When I was in grade school I had a brilliant second grade teacher, Mrs. Goodness. She was as good as the name implies. Everyday we would start in the morning with singing and dancing. At the time we thought she was the most magical and indulgent teacher. Now I know she was wearing our little bodies out, expending childhood energy in order to calm our minds to better focus.

The most miraculous thing she did was make reading a treat. After song and dance time, with such standard fair as “the ants go marching one by one,” we would hit the work of the day and then reading hour in which we could spread out on pillows or in corners of the room and read whatever we want. The treat was, if you were the most well behaved and the best in the class that day, you got to read in a place of honor. Mrs. Goodness had a platform in the middle of the room that held a large claw foot bathtub with pillows inside. I have never worked so hard to accomplish a goal. I was a spazz. I mean my mom set up the original embargo on soda, necessitated by her sheer exhaustion. It was not easy for me to be calm, quiet, and outwardly studious. I think I only made it into the tub once maybe twice. Certainly, all those other days I envied the people in that tub.

How remarkable to make reading a reward. So many times reading is the thing you do to get pizza or some other prize. Mrs. Goodness made the act of reading alluring. There is no power in the verse like a teacher, right?

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Pretty light…also helps with the aforementioned farting.

I want to do this same thing to exercise in my mind. I want to rebrand it for myself. Why can’t I make exercise indulgent? I don’t know how many times that I have rolled my eyes when some starlet or actress says something about how exercise is a meditation, me time, or energizes them. I have never felt that. Exercise makes me tired, sweaty, and cranky. I feel put out and resentful.

There are people who feel this way about reading, and I always look at them like they are crazy, just like some people reading this are thinking I am crazy. Maybe like Mrs. Goodness did with books, I need to rebrand exercise for myself. Those stretching sessions with lovely husband need some fine tuning to be the energizing, relaxing experience everyone recommends. So I am going to get some blankets to make the ground softer, pillows to relax on in between sessions, and have my husband create a relaxing play list. He is good at that. Maybe I will even go all hippy and burn some relaxing candles in the back ground. (We know from watching Scifi that all true meditation needs candles. How else can you accomplish a successful Kelno’reem? What would Vulcans or even Klingons do without a Pier One?) Maybe the full spa experience will turn my head around to exercise. Maybe I will crave it like a good book, or maybe I will go with the sex on the floor idea.

Kelno'reem
Kelno’reem