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Being my own babysitter

I’ve been a part-time babysitter off and on for nearly 20 years. As I ramp up towards opening my own business, I am picking up extra working hours here and there in order to have more startup capital as well as a bigger cushion once the bookstore is my main gig.

For that reason, among others, I’ve spent the last couple of months nannying a wee tiny baby. After feeding him his late-morning bottle, the only remedy for a crying jag, it at last dawned on me that I could learn a few lessons from him.

The baby’s instincts help him make sure the adults in his life take care of him. He cries when he’s hungry, whimpers and yawns when he’s ready to crash, and squirms when his diaper is in sore need of changing. He’s not able to meet his own needs, but he does a damned good job of making sure the rest of us do.

Which brings me to this: I need to get better at being my own babysitter, of taking care of m listening to my body. For years and years, I’ve plowed through lunch hour for any number of reasons. Maybe I’m hanging out with friends, maybe I’m working like a maniac and don’t want to interrupt myself. Mostly I just forget to eat. As a borderline-underweight migraineur, this is far from a healthy pattern, especially since skipping meals is one of my triggers (as is the case for many of us). Throughout school, I always chose ten extra minutes of sleep over packing a lunch and eating breakfast. Many days I’d devour a couple of Pop Tarts in the car on the way to school and not eat anything substantive until my 4 PM lunch. Having been too lazy (or tired, or both) to pack a lunch and refusing to eat the school cafeteria food meant 8 hours of waning hunger and energy during the day. No wonder I had to take a migraine-induced nap most days after school.

One would think that, at age 30, I’d have shucked this unhealthy meal-skipping habit, but that’s not the case. I realize too late that I’m hungry and often end up skipping meals or whipping together something far from healthy. On the flip side, I am constantly amazed at how great I feel when our fridge and cupboards are well-stocked and I eat three or more meals a day. I’ve often told Jim (my partner of several years), “Wow! Food is like fuel!” Understandably, he looks at me strangely—this is what happens when a thirty-year-old finally believes what her third grade health textbook said.

Through mindfulness practice, I’ve become far more in tune with my body; this translates into a healthier relationship with my migraine disease and other illnesses as well as a better barometer to judge how I need to take care of myself at any given moment. But I’m still not great at listening for my own cries, whimpers, and yawns. By watching this little baby each week, I humbly try to follow his lead and let myself and others know when I need to be taken care of.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Cindy Dalton
    7 years ago

    Migraine Girl, I can certainly identify with you, having suffered from migraine disease most of my life. (The earliest one I can remember was at age four.) Skipping meals has always been one of my biggest triggers and like you, I seldom ate anything until late afternoon. Then in my early thirties, the hypoglycemia began and in my late forties, diabetes followed. Skipping meals is something I can no longer do—not just for the sake of avoiding migraines, but to keep my blood sugar balanced. Sticking to a healthy diet and eating a little something about every four waking hours keeps my blood sugar levels normal and reduces the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. Just an old lady’s advice to a young lady who seems to have a very good head on her shoulders. Good Luck!

  • lwats80
    8 years ago

    I read this and it could have been me writing it. I’m glad I’m not the only one with these issues. My partner is forever telling me off for not having lunch or skipping breakfast. I often don’t even feel hungry until it’s too late and then wonder why I am feeling tired and generally rubbish. Luckily I have a very supportive boyfriend who sticks food under my nose and makes sure I eat even if I don’t really feel like it.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    Fabulous advice! Isn’t it amazing how we will take care of someone else so easily and naturally, but taking care of ourselves is anything but natural?! I have these same issues I hate to say. I know what I’m supposed to be doing where the eating is concerned, but since I don’t usually physically feel hunger, I often forget. I also will pay the price *yikes*. Thanks for a good picture to remind my brain this weekend…

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