I spend a large portion of my time caring for, looking after, and maintaining the health and wellbeing of others. Amidst all of the scheduling of my work life and the kids' respective social lives, the hours of my day quickly evaporate into vague memories of daily routine. Not once do I stop and think about myself, my health and often my own needs. And why should I? Like all "good" mothers, my needs come second to theirs, right?
Recently, my child randomly said to me, "Mom I can't imagine our life without you". That gave me pause. I thought about it and felt the same. Who would do the cooking, the cleaning and all the neurotic yelling about clothes and toys on the floor? That sentence made me think of my mortality in a deeper way. To these little people, I mean something. Do I respect that? Do I prioritize my health in a way that supports my living as long as I possibly can.
This moment took me back to when my own mother informed me (a young adult at the time) that she had found a lump and was going in to get it checked. Fortunately nothing malign, but the days leading up to her results were filled with my own questioning what life would be like without her. I hadn't gotten married, I still had apologies to say for my teen years, I still had so many things I wanted to say and share with her.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the most common cancer for women across ethnic demographics. Women between 50 and 74 years of age should be screened via mammogram every two years, however women younger than 50 should also think critically about breast health and overall health and wellbeing. The sooner you catch it, the better your chances for survival. Essentially an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
There isn't one person I know whose life has not been touched in some way by breast cancer. When I think of breast cancer I think of all the scares I’ve witnessed in women around me. I think about how cells can attack our breasts, something that no matter how we'd like to deny it, make us feel feminine and womanly. I think about how violated and scared they feel; how relieved many of them were that in a moment, some part of them that they take for granted could in fact have killed them. These close calls make me think of my own life a little more deeply. Hearing my girls talk about these thoughts "of life without me" encourage me to take better care of myself and pay attention to changes in my mind, body and spirit.
Here's my list of "Mommy Musts":
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a great opportunity to check yourself and remind the women you care about to check themselves. Moms have a tendency to ignore themselves to get things done for their families, their jobs and their homes. As a mother, sometimes you don't realize how much you mean to your children until you take a moment to think about what life would be like if you weren't around. I encourage every mother to take a moment and think about their last self breast exam and their last trip to the doctor; if you can't remember, you need to get to it right away.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.