My family is kind of weird about orange juice. We are not, however, weird about any other juice. Especially not the kind that comes in a little box with a tiny straw. We’re fine with all that. But orange juice is different – it’s special. Why is it special? In part because I never get any.
It’s a mom thing, right? I cook and feed people, but my dinner is always cold. I drive people to a million lessons, practices, recitals, and games all designed to enrich young minds and make young bodies healthy. Yet I never seem to find the time to go to the gym or read a book. Or drink a glass of orange juice, apparently.
Most of the time I don’t mind. I’d rather my offspring be the ones with the hot food. But they’re getting bigger and better able to do things for themselves. Next year, my youngest will be in school 5 days a week. And I just turned 40. So it’s time to start taking better care of myself. We all know the analogy about putting on your own oxygen mask first. It seems like I’d be able to do that in an emergency, but can’t in my everyday life. But I’m starting to think it’s time for that to change.
So this year, mommy gets some OJ. And she’s going to the gym, and she’s going to read a book . . . to herself, that is. This year, by taking better care of me, I will teach my kids (and remind myself) that I’m worth taking care of. That when they’re adults, their bodies and minds will be worth taking care of, too. This is my mission for 2013.
Maybe you’re wondering what orange juice has to do with this, and why I never get any. It’s easy. (Actually, just take a peek at the flow chart below. It pretty much describes what happens.) Let’s say I bring home some Minute Maid® Pure Squeezed orange juice from the store. Within seconds the kids have pounced. Within minutes, most of it’s gone. Is there any left for me? Not usually. They don’t understand that orange juice is not like water. There’s not an unlimited supply that flows from a pulp-filled river behind the house. You have to respect the juice, OK? No wasting or mommy will get all eye-twitchy. I know we can always just get more from the store a half gallon at a time, but it’s more than that.
My grandmother treated orange juice (and oranges, for that matter) like they were precious. She doled it out sparingly in tiny shot-sized glasses at the breakfast table, and you really appreciated what you got. It was the same thing with strawberries. Strawberries were the most special fruit in the history of ever. Now my kids see strawberries and half the time, they’re like – meh, no thanks. To me, that’s crazy.
But sometimes we forget that special things are special. We take for granted that they’ll always be there. When my grandmother was young, she could only get strawberries in the late spring.
Her oranges came all the way from Florida, and they weren’t always in great shape by the time they hit New England. And she remembered the days during the war when they were rationed.
She never took them for granted or forgot how special they were. I’ve taken other things for granted. Like my thirties. And my good health. And having the strength and energy I need to take care of my family and watch over them as they grow up. I’m acutely aware that I’ve just assumed those things would always be there. I’ve forgotten how special it is to be healthy and well. I’ve neglected to make staying that way a priority.
But this year, that’s all going to change. This year, I’m pouring my own glass first, at least occasionally. They’ll still all get plenty to drink, I promise. They won’t even miss that extra couple of ounces set aside for me. It might sound silly, but this one small act represents something bigger. Taking a little bit of time every day to care for myself, so I can take better care of them.