When my first grandson was born last month I immediately offered to go down and help them out. It’s not negotiable. I’m going.
But wait, I have multiple sclerosis. Isn’t that rash? Aren’t I overextending myself? Will I be able to handle it?
On the other hand, how can I say no? It’s my first grandson! They asked me to visit for a month and—well, what else am I going to say? It’s what I want.
Back in the real world, I face challenges every day, and have learned to push my way through. This is more complicated. It’s not just about me.
How complicated? First, they live in Florida. Second, baby’s not a good sleeper. Neither am I! In fact I’m an insomniac. Nothing’s more important for my health than sleep. One bad night can trigger all sorts of MS symptoms.
I’m excited and nervous. Will I cope? Will they end up having to take care of me? I try not to indulge my worries. I'm determined to be the best grandma I can be, whatever it takes! I want to be there for all three of them.
The nervousness remains, but I’m more aware of what to look out for. I used to always push myself beyond my limits, until I realized how important it is to set aside me-time. I’m still amazed at how a little change in my routine increases my energy and positivity. Small things—like going out with friends, having a facial or making a date night.
“But you’re not getting stuff done!”
OMG, that voice in my head! Getting stuff done may feel good—and it’s important too—but equally essential for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing are periods of not-doing, or doing with no particular goal. IT’S NOT SELFISH. It’s maintenance. Everyone benefits from your improved balance.
I can’t afford to burn out. My family and clients need me to be present, focused and sharp. They care about me. Is that why I tend to keep going even when it’s time to stop?
I realized the problem is not my family, clients or circumstances. It’s the expectations I have of myself. If I'm not doing something perfectly right, I judge myself harshly. Why? Too prove what, and to whom? What makes a great grandma?
Questions like these helped me see the insecurities I was hanging on to.
Seeing them changes everything. It puts them within reach, so I can let go. I told my kids (the parents) what I was feeling. They understand how MS affects me and are ready for the unexpected. It’s not a problem for them. They want have me in his life in any capacity.
Looking at it like this quiets the inner critic—that nagging voice telling me to be who I’m ‘supposed to be.’ Talking with someone helps me stay objective.
What have I done to not overextend myself? I paid extra for flexible flights—just in case. I reminded my son and daughter-in-law that I’ll need to rest in the day. What else? Perhaps it’s not so complicated after all.
Meanwhile, they're making contingency plans. Stephen’s coming with me too, but can’t stay as long. We’ll have a blast being first time grandparents and we’ll find out what I really can and can’t do when I’m alone with baby.
Now I can stop worrying about what might go wrong and focus on the joys of this little miracle.
I can't wait!