On a recent flight , I was reminded of a most awesome analogy for managing a marriage and family...especially a complex family such as a blended one.
As you know, flight attendants always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting your children or other passengers. WHY? Because frankly you can't help anyone if you have passed out. It is less likely that a child will be able to help you if you have passed out because of helping them. Technically speaking at 35,000 feet you have about 9-15 seconds to get oxygen flowing to you as an adult before you pass out. If you have the mask on and then pass out, when you get to a lower altitude you will most likely regain consciousness and not have any harmful effects. So, if you put your mask on 1st and then assist your child or others...when things stabilize, all should be well. But if you help everyone else and end up unconscious without a mask, the chances of your survival are nil.
As a spouse and a parent...and a steparent...you will wear yourself out trying to meet the ever increasing needs of everyone in the house and if you try to do that with grace and patience..you're really looking for a grueling on going experience. Before you know it (for women) you haven't been to the gym, the salon, the spa, or anything that just involves taking care of you..in weeks...or months. For men, you can't be anywhere without getting 7 calls from work, church, wife or kids. An example for me, I have tried to map out specific days to go to the gym and by the time I get home, finish dinner, get homework rolling, get out clothes for tommorrow, straighten out the house, wrap lunches, talk to the kids and sit for a second its time to pick up kids from work and get to bed. And mind you I haven't even said "Hi" to my husband yet or checked on my parents, siblings or rehearsed for that skit I have to do this Sunday.
An example for my husband would be this past weekend we went to see the musical "Wicked" and we don't get very many nights out so I protect and treasure any time alone we get to detach from our every day lives and just give our minds a break. He was really enjoying himself and I thought I had his undivided attention for just a moment. However, I go to the bathroom for 15 minutes and come back to find him on the phone with one of his children. I was so disappointed that he didn't feel comfortable enough to be able to first of all- turn the phone off-not vibrate, but "OFF" and secondly that he couldn't rest for 2 hours without having to get totally out of the moment to focus on someone else besides himself.
It's not the child's fault. They are only doing what they have been allowed to do. It's not your churches fault...you ALWAYS...say yes....It's not your job's fault...you LOVE overtime...It's not your spouse's fault you always meet their needs first in spite of your own.
Are we NUTS ?? Moments like that will kill you as a spouse, co-worker or a parent. You have to retrain people to know and respect your value. You have to take care of yourself and your marriage. You have to know when to say....when. You have to say NO. No to your kids, no to your job, your church, your family, your spouse. Phone off -unavailable for awhile, just wing it and I will get back to you later. Trust me, the world will go on without you. You will be able to rest, think clearly and will be a better wife, husband, mom, dad, steparent because of it. Put your mask on first and then you will see how much better you'll be able to help those around you.
On that note, I am going to eat a healthy lunch and go for a power walk with my co-workers! Its better than nothing :-).