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Cereal For Supper: Taking Breaks

I’ve had some great surprise conversations in the post office. Seriously. 99% of them are with total strangers, and I’ll admit that a good majority of those are small talk combined with “isn’t the weather just crazy today?”. But sometimes, they are real take-home talks. 

Today, as I was headed to check the box, someone asked me if I knew when the post office had closed because she really needed to buy a stamp. That led to our talking briefly about buying stamps, and then, out of the blue, she began to tell me that this was her break in the day. She was the caregiver for her mother who has dementia. She talked about the pressure of caregiving. She talked about how even her own hair wasn’t the same anymore and how she had gained 20lbs in the past year. She talked about how she craved these small breaks when she got them, even to just go buy stamps, because she didn’t want to forget who she was.

There’s so much to unpack there. Of course, I reassured her that she was absolutely on target about the need for her self care, how she was truly important, and applauded her gratitude and love for her mom. But y’all, the caregiver role in this world is wildly underpraised. 

As I was leaving, that conversation caused my mind to wander to parents of little-littles. The ones who are still in diapers, still need help to eat, get water, put on clothes, and use the bathroom. Once the new parent has passed the honeymoon period of baby showers, “can I come hold your newborn” requests, and the offers of casseroles, she is often surprised to find herself feeling overwhelmed and overworked. Then, as the first years go by, while she may instinctively know that she’s investing her time to eventually produce an independent piece of wonderful, it’s awfully hard to remember all that at 2am, when she’s out of bed, helping a fearful toddler deal with a bad night of sleep. 

Oh, how I remember those days and nights. They were awfully long. But I’m here to tell you that the years really are short.

I can reassure you that for every lost night of sleep, for every pretended bit of patience, for every kind word spoken when you didn’t feel kind at all, you are going to get the sort of returns that bring you joy. Maybe you’ll have a kid who helps you change your sheets when your shoulder has gotten messed up. Or maybe you’ll have a kid who likes to cook. Maybe, that investment of time turns into a kid who can take some money to the store and come back with the groceries you need for the weekend. 

Again, you aren’t likely to remember all this at 2am. Maybe, you just try not to overthink what you’re doing. Without expecting perfection of yourself, speak kindness when you can, listen to your conscience, and be that lady in the post office – take the breaks you need so that you don’t forget who you are. It’s not selfish, nor is it unnecessary. You won’t need it all the time. But you will need it. And when you take those moments during the day, the adult that comes back is the adult who is necessary to be not just the parent but also the most important mentor for that little sleep-interrupter who snuggles like a boss.

About The Author

Leah O'Gwynn Kackley

Leah O'Gwynn Kackley grew up in the Reservoir/Brandon and Jackson area. She holds a Mathematics degree from Mississippi University for Women where she was also a soloist with the dance department. Now, she lives with her husband, Jason, in the Rez/Fannin area and homeschools their busy kids. In her rare free time, she is also a photographer and owns Sanomo Photo, named for Sarah, Noah, and Molly - her favorite students ever. They all attend Grace Primitive Baptist Church.

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