O’BRIEN: learning to fly

Anyone who’s been on a plane in recent years will remember that during the safety presentation the flight attendants always tell you that in the event of cabin pressure changing, should the masks drop, affix your own first and then help others. 

That should be life advice.  I always felt like, and especially as a parent, that everyone else’s needs came first.  I’d tend to them and then take care of me later.  Except later never comes, and I became so busy caring about everything and everyone else that I forgot about myself entirely.  That is something I think most parents, and a crazy amount of women, do.  Except here’s the thing, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves then we really aren’t doing a very good job at taking care of anyone else.  I know, that for me, if I’m burnt out and rundown then my family takes the brunt of my frustrations.  

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I work in a very high stress atmosphere and it’s not a positive one on top of that.  I recently took some time off to be at home and found myself coming back to life.  Most days I drop the kid at school, rush to work, rush to pick her up from school, rush to one of the many extra-curriculars, and then rush home to cook dinner.  Then its rush through eating, clean up, bedtime, making lunches, making sure we are all set for the coming day, and then bed, all to get up and do it again.  I often wonder that if my job was lower stress or a more positive atmosphere if those things, those chores and obligations, wouldn’t feel so heavy.  All I know is that after over a week at home I feel like my old self again, and that’s sad and a little scary.  

Sad because I like my work, and scary because I think I may need to move on.   I have been at home with my daughter for all of spring break and I haven’t yelled, or lost my temper, or felt like she was bothersome.  When I’m working all of those things are a daily occurrence.  After those two weeks at home I did something a little crazy – I quit my job. 

It was a shockingly easy decision.  What I’m going to do moving forward is an unknown, for the first time in my life I don’t have a defined path or set of priorities.  It’s excitingly terrifying.  It’s time to affix my mask and enjoy the ride.

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