By KATE HUNTER
How many mothers do you know who would REALLY fit their own oxygen mask before assisting their children?
I know, I know, it’s the sensible, safe thing to do. If you’re unconscious you’re no use to anyone, but it goes against every fibre of a mother’s being to deal with your own well-being instead of your kids.’
Similarly, when UN troops are heading into a region where people are dying of thirst, they’re trained to keep enough water for themselves, no matter how desperate the pleas of the people. The thinking being: dehydrated aid workers are worse than no aid workers at all.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Jean Hailes. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
I remember when I heard that, I wondered if it was humanly possible – to put yourself first in that kind of situation. But now I see the sense in it. Like the oxygen mask on the plane, caring for ourselves is pretty much the best thing we can do for our families. If busy mums are sick, tired and permanently pissed off with the world, everyone suffers.
Of course no one wants men to be sick, tired and permanently pissed off either – but (and I’m ducking into the trenches here) men seem to be better at putting themselves first. I think it’s an evolutionary thing. Men are hardwired to fight for the biggest, juiciest chop on the plate whereas a woman will say, ‘Everyone help themselves! I’m not that hungry – I’ve been nibbling all afternoon.’ Then she’ll have the last chop left on the plate, the burnt gristly one.
My friend Caroline (who has no academic qualifications whatsoever) has eloquently named this phenomenon, ‘The Burnt Chop Syndrome.’ Sometimes it manifests itself not in cutlet form but in taking the squashed piece of cake, the dregs of the tea or the bruised banana.
Then there’s the situation where a woman will eat no banana at all – or any leafy greens, pulses or fish rich in omega 3 oils. This woman is so busy making sure her kids, partner and aging parents are getting their seven serves; the only fruit she’s getting is the lemon in her thank-god-the-day’s-over gin & tonic.
It’s understandable, this kind of living, but it has to stop. Not all of it – massive health and lifestyle overhauls can work, but too much too soon can result in good intentions crashing and burning at the first missed bus or lost sock.