Wednesday May 28 2008
Taking care of yourself can be hardest task of all
By: Liz Kellar
I would be the first to admit that I am no martyr. In fact, the argument could be made that I am, at heart, a pretty self-absorbed person. I adore my child with an obsessive passion – and yet I don’t consider myself particularly maternal. I am not a nurturer by nature and the demands of an infant were almost beyond me. To this day, I still torture myself with the fact that not only did I not breast-feed, I was also guilty of the heinous crime of propping Spencer up with a bottle so I could have a few minutes to myself. As far as I was concerned, television was the greatest invention ever. Some people like to scorn Barney. I loved Barney because Spencer loved Barney. Again, a few precious moments to myself. I know some women who love being pregnant and being moms. Personally, I couldn’t wait until Spencer reached the age where he wasn’t dependent on me for absolutely everything. I was reminded again of exactly how bad I was at this caretaking thing last year, when my mother was in the hospital for the second time, after having her spine fused from the tailbone to the neck. We still don’t know whether she was having a reaction to the medication she was on or whether she was detoxing from all the medications she had previously been on. But she was deranged for a period of approximately a week, hallucinating and incoherent and attempting repeatedly to rip off her halo and clamshell brace. She needed round-the-clock care and I went down to Watsonville to spell my sisters, one of whom had flown all the way from Germany to help out. By the end of the first day, any milk of human kindness remaining in me had been sucked dry. My mom was a major pain in the buttocks and I was exhausted from trying to reason with her. Eventually, I resorted to ignoring her; in my defense, she could not remember anything that she said or that was said to her. I don’t know how nurses do it. I knew my mom couldn’t feed herself or go to the bathroom by herself. But I just had no patience to deal with her. I did it, but it was a dogged sort of duty. But as bad as I am at taking care of my nearest and dearest – if you doubt me, you can come over some time and check out the drifts of dog hair in the kitchen and the monumental piles of laundry on the couch – I am even worse at taking care of myself. It has been well over a year since I had a physical, and I keep getting gentle postcards from my dentist, reminding me that my next checkup is long overdue. My weight is another nagging issue that has become a source of deep discontent. Part of the problem is that it has been such an insidious gain that it was easy to ignore for quite a few years. I was one of those women who never really had to worry about her weight, no matter what fat bombs I shoved into my mouth. But then, of course, I turned 35. Soon, I was out of those size eights and into a size 10 and then ... Suffice it to say that now, I would be ecstatic to get back into a size 10. I am not heavy enough that simply dieting will help me shed pounds; I have to exercise, too. And therein lies the rub. I am, besides being selfish, extremely lazy. I hate to exercise. I have joined innumerable gyms and wasted enormous amounts of money. I have purchased multiple pieces of expensive equipment on which to hang my clothes. Recently, I have come to realize that besides the laziness, my problem is that I never take the time to take care of myself. I also realized that it must be genetic. My parents live in Corralitos, near Santa Cruz – you know, the place where they recently evacuated due to a wildfire? The blaze came with three miles of their house last week. Did they do the smart thing and stay away till the threat was gone? Of course not. After lots of bullying, they did leave the first day. But by the second day, they were back at home. Their refusal to take care of themselves was terribly aggravating. And yet, I knew where they were coming from. I am their daughter, after all. Liz Kellar recently fixed her bike up and plans to ride daily – if she can find the time.