I have a friend who is a single mother of 4 school-age children.  She cleans houses for a living and has no formal education.  For more than a decade, she has been overweight.  The kind of overweight where knees hurt and it’s hard to get around.  She had never made chicken that wasn’t fried and knew nothing about starches and carbs and calories.  And then last fall, she was watching The Biggest Loser and decided that she could do it, too.  Just like that.  She bought the show’s cookbook and workout DVD.  Now, 9 months later, she is half of her initial size.  She finds a way to workout each day — between running 4 children back and forth to 3 schools and traveling all over the city to clean whatever she can get hired to clean — and manages to get a dinner on the table each night that is healthy and contributes to her continued weight loss.  In losing her weight, she re-learned how to cook, she tried dozens of new fruits and vegetables, and she stuck to her goals.  I am in complete and utter amazement of her; she is an absolute inspiration.

There is absolutely no reason in the world for me to not have better behaviors when it comes to taking care of myself.  Everything from how often I get a haircut or pedicure to when I can take a yoga class.

Yes, it’s true I do a lot and have a lot going on.  But I schedule everything and manage to make time for anyone who asks me for it.

Except me.

I’ve gone over and over about this for as long as I can remember.  I get angry at the people around me for not thinking about me — after all, I think about them and anticipate their needs all day long.  I know that the bottom line is that I have to be the one to make it happen.  And I’ve tried a hundred thousand times in seventy billion ways.  It doesn’t work.  Whatever connection has to be made, I can’t make it.  Whenever something needs to give, it’s always me.

When the kids are in school, I want to spend every moment of it working.  When they are home, I want to be with them — AND this is when I do the house stuff (laundry, cleaning).  In order for Paul to work his job and work on the house, I have to cover all the bases to allow him to focus on those tasks.  He gets great exercise and creative challenge from his projects on the house and does a good job of fitting in other hobbies, like juggling with the kids in the park.  I don’t know how or where to fit in anything for myself.  It makes me feel guilty for even thinking about it.  An hour to take a walk?  To do my hair?  Indulgent.  Wasteful.  I feel like a mess all the time and I don’t know what to do about it.  I don’t know how anyone else does it, either.

So I’m asking.  Officially, asking.  How does a mother juggling a bazillion things manage her own needs?  I’m very very serious, because it has to get better.  How do you do it?