It takes me twenty minutes to get ready in the morning. I really, really, really need those twenty minutes of uninterrupted time to be pleasant. Also, to function and to feel good about myself and my life. Hubby and I share a bathroom and if there is the occasional overlap of his getting ready in the morning and mine, he knows enough to STAY OUTTA MY WAY.
Now, those twenty minutes are just the basics of shower–shampoo and conditioner, washing my ol’ bod–then deodorant, lotions and potions guaranteed to make my skin look younger and unwrinkled (I buy that bill of goods….I’m a face cream whore) , combing my hair (which is colored and cut once a month so I don’t HAVE to dry it), and putting on my clothes. If I clip my toenails or shave my legs, add a couple of minutes. If I need to put on make-up or dry my hair, add a couple more. And if I need to be the Knock-Out-Good-Lookin’-Babe I am in my heart, it’s about 30 minutes. Tops. Before I ever start the shower, I queue everything up, like a surgeon with his/her instruments, so I can “get ‘er done.” I timed all this years ago….and the story of WHY I did is pretty funny.
My Kiddo had just started his high school program. It was an excellent program, in fact we moved to this community for the strength of the high school special ed program and the gifted programs for the younger two Kiddos. His inclusion facilitator was a wonderful man. Through his high school program, he had a series of (mostly)wonderful one-on-one aids, para-professionals whom I always liked. Except for one, the first one he had in his high school program; I couldn’t stand her because she treated me as if I had done something wrong or wasn’t paying enough attention to My Kiddo and His Needs.
Often, I had to prove myself to the para-professionals working with My Kiddo….I wasn’t a horrible, selfish or stupid woman, and even if I have a son who has autism, I wasn’t, umm, *intellectually challenged* like my son. Hubby has a doctorate and I have a graduate degree in Arts EDUCATION and I even worked for a time for the feeder elementary school district but since I have a son who has autism, my intelligence and our family is suspect until proven otherwise. Once they realized I was *good people* we got along and all was well.
It was a lovely October morning, Kiddo was in high school, the younger two were in junior high and I was working three days a week for the elementary school district. The days I was not working, I spent doing housework, perhaps taking a powerwalk around the subdivision or catching up on school related paperwork. This particular morning, I was home. I decided to wash the kitchen floor and clean the boys’ bathroom–yuck! Then I took a shower, later than I expected to, right after lunch.
When I got out of the shower, the phone was ringing madly and the answering machine was blinking like crazy. I answered the phone and it was The Kiddo’s new aide and she was LIVID. She yelled at me for not answering the phone the first time she called and DEMANDED to know where I had been. I calmly told her I was in the shower. And then she shouted at me, “HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TAKE A SHOWER?” I told her I didn’t know how long I had been in the shower (that’s what spurred me to time myself so I could honestly say how long 🙂 )
But the reason for her call was so, SO SILLY I have to repeat it here so you can have a laugh too. And it certainly was no reason to get all hot and bothered for me not jumping when she called:
The Aide: Why did you send Kiddo to school when he is obviously ill?
Me: He’s ill? What’s wrong?
The Aide: He seems to be in some GI distress, why did you send him to school when he was sick?
Me: He wasn’t in any kind of distress this morning. In fact, he was cheerful and giggling while we waited for the bus. Is he vomiting? Does he have diarrhea?
The Aide: No, he is not vomiting and does not have diarrhea.
Me: Then I don’t understand…….
The Aide: He is gassy.
The Aide: He is flatulent. He is loudly flatulent and it has an odor.
Me: What did he have for lunch?
The Aide: As you know, it states in his IEP he is to order his own lunch in the cafeteria and today he chose Cabbage Soup.
Me: What did he have yesterday?
The Aide: Tacos with Rice and Re-fried Beans.
Me: Well, he had Enchiladas with Rice and Beans for dinner last night.
By this time I was trying not to laugh because it was Surreal.
The Aide: Oh. Well, then I guess that explains it. Do you want to pick him up?
Me: No, why would I pick him up?
The Aide: Because he is flatulent.
Me: He isn’t ill, so there is no reason for me to have to pick him up. Guess y’all will have to live with the repercussions of the Cabbage Soup, won’t you?
After I got off the phone, I called Hubby and replayed the whole conversation….we couldn’t stop laughing! Our Kiddo was farting–loudly and it was smelly–and they wanted me to pick him up. You could say they contributed to the problem by encouraging him to chose what he wanted for lunch. And of course, I made Enchiladas for dinner the night before.
I got to thinking about this whole weird situation with that aide’s phone call. My Mom (the mother of six) always told me we mothers need to take care of ourselves so we are able to take care of our children. Why should I be made to feel guilty for taking a shower? Why should anyone infer I wasn’t responsive to their phone call because I don’t care about my son? I am on call 24/7 so if, for 20 minutes a day, I am incommunicado, why should it matter to anyone? That’s when I began my shower timing and got into a rhythm so I can cram in lots in those 20 minutes. And it still works.
Since that time, I am clear about my needs for privacy and the ability to take care of myself for twenty minutes a day. I have tried less and it doesn’t work, not only for my own hygiene, but for my mental health. And if I am not comfortable, or mentally healthy, it is not good for My Kiddo. And it’s important enough for me to take time so I CAN be there for him!
I’m sure you’re wondering what happened with that aide; she didn’t last the semester and not just because of my Kiddo. She *rubbed* her supervisor the wrong way and was late once a week, every week she worked. Her replacement was one of my favorite’s of Kiddos para-professionals, and was with him for three years. When her husband was transferred, she cried when she left and so did we!
So don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself and don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You need to be strong for your own kiddos and you can’t be if you haven’t addressed your own needs…at least, occasionally.