Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Oxygen Mask Project

When we board a plane, we all have to sit through the instructions of what to do in case of emergency. When the oxygen masks drop from the compartments above our heads, we are to secure our own before assisting those around us. However, as parents, we don't always employ this philosophy to our lives. We put our children's needs first. Our family. Our home. And, as special needs families, that philosophy seems to be magnified. Our children need more. Therefore, we give them more. And where does the reserve come from? Ourselves.

Well, there is an ongoing objective to try and change that mindset. I am speaking of The Oxygen Mask Project. Through both their website and their presence on Facebook and Twitter, they are trying to convince parents to take some time for themselves and address personal needs as well as the needs of their children. For some, these can be as big as taking a vacation without their kids. For others, it can be simply visiting a doctor to address medical issues, or the avoidance of such issues.

I have been guilty of neglecting my own needs for a very long time. I have a chronic medical condition that requires regular monitoring that I haven't addressed in far too long. I also haven't addressed my vision in a while, leading to me wearing my back-up pair of glasses for the last 2 years (which Music Man decided to bend the other day). Everything I do has become about my children and about autism.

I need to do something about that. So, I have decided to join with the Oxygen Mask Project. I am going to try to find 30 minutes of every day just to do something for ME. It can be as simple as going to the doctor. Or taking a walk. Or a drive. Watching a program on television that suits MY interests. I need to start trying to remember who I am again. This is something that I have lost over the few years. I've become an "Autism Mom". It's fine for that to be a part of how I define myself. It's a problem when that becomes HOW I define myself.

So, I invite anyone who reads this post to join me. I'm not talking about huge commitments. I'm just saying for a few minutes every day, just something that you do for your own personal benefit. I've already realized that it's not as easy as it sounds. Who here considers themselves up to the challenge?


  1. Right with ya! I have boy/girl twins who had severe autism at age 3, but are highly functional now at 9. I lived with the dual stroller until they were 5, and heavy enough to bend the axles, so I totally relate to your pic.
    Hang in there - with the right community interventions and school support, your "title" will bubble up to the surface for all to see. In my case, everyone knows me as a "do-gooder" and secondarily as the twin's mom. Autism doesn't come into play unless I need to trump a conversation.
    But "do gooder" had to come after a major depression crisis, when I was forced to take care of myself FIRST. So I too am grateful for the Oxygen Mask Project.
    Look forward to hearing your stories.

  2. I like this idea! Often, even when I would have time while my daughter Janey (7 years old and autistic) is at school, I just collapse, and don't do anything that could be called fun or relaxing, or I feel too guilty over the huge piles of dishes or laundry to just take a little time to do something completely non-autism-related and enjoyable. And medical issues? Hah. I feel guilty about taking time to go to the doctor, which lead to some pretty severe asthma I had being undiagnosed for two years. Good luck to you with this challenge!

  3. That's the types of things I would like to avoid. After all, if we can't take care of ourselves, then how can we take care of our kids. That's their philosophy and it's a good one. But there is always something standing in the way.

    I'm just starting small -- 30 minutes a day. I'm trying to lose weight (which I'd hardly call relaxing) which will also help to improve my health. The truth is, if you don't like yourself, then you are going to be miserable. And right now, I'm not so sure I want to spend time with the person who is currently me.