"Mummy's broken!" my four-year-old declared crossly a couple of weeks ago. I corrected her, "No, mummy's back feels broken, and mummy has an ouchy hip and a virus and is very, very sleepy..." Same difference to my daughter. She looked me up and down in exasperated disappointment the way she would a broken toy that was no longer performing its tricks.
This was not the way January was supposed to go. After a ridiculously busy and over-indulgent Christmas, I woke up on the 1st with a hangover but a spring in my step, ready to shake off the December toxins, ditch the booze, start training for a half-marathon and generally embrace some clean living. But on the 2nd, my body disagreed. Struck down with sudden back pain and a nasty bug I limped on for a week or so trying to ignore it and get back into the routine of nursery drops off, childcare, work and January projects. Mums don't have time to be ill!
As I got progressively more exhausted and uncomfortable I kept pushing on, expecting that a stoical 'mind over matter' approach would soon pay off until one Saturday morning I got up, almost fell over with dizziness and had to go back to bed for the rest of the day. Lying in bed, listening to my husband cope just fine downstairs without me I suddenly realised how ridiculous I was being - if my kids had this many ailments I would have packed them off to the doctor's weeks ago (and been awake at night frantically Googling their symptoms...)
Because a 'broken' mummy is no good to anyone. As anyone who has ever let rip with a glorious, epic 'Mum Rant' knows, if you get too overloaded and exhausted, there's going to be an explosion at some point and everyone around will need to take cover. It might seem contradictory but if we really care about our loved ones we need to put our own needs first some of the time. Mums are the magic, invisible threads that hold all the dancing pieces together and if we're miserable, everyone else is too. I know that if I've exercised, achieved something positive at work and had a chat with a good friend I'm a better mum than I am on the days when I'm tired and bogged down with mundane chores.
So as mums, our only New Year's Resolution should be to look after ourselves properly in 2017, both mentally and physically. No one likes a martyr and our loved ones will be better off, not neglected if we make ourselves happy and healthy. For me it meant booking in some acupuncture for my back (and not feeling guilty for sticking it on a credit card), investing in a proper office chair (see credit card...) and finding somewhere away from the kitchen table where I can work in blissful peace.
As my lovely pal told me the other day, her 2017 mum motto is "Be better, not bitter". Amen sister.