Caveat: I thought about writing this under the anonymous True Life series. I have a feeling y’all might come after me with pitchforks, but please hear me out to the end. Maybe there are some things we can agree upon?
About a month ago my husband, our girls, and I were all taken down by the stomach bug going around. First Randy, then the oldest, then little sister, then me. All got sick within about 36 hours of each other.
Since Randy was already sick when the girls started puking, we decided he would be the one who stayed home with them. That’s all well and good, but given how this disease works, they were back to about 90% by lunchtime. By then they wanted to play and eat and read and climb on Daddy while he just wanted to sleep.
Then comes the evening when I come home, nauseous. I drag myself to the couch, with the back of my hand to my forehead, crying because I thought this would never end. (It had been a whopping two hours at this point.) It was so bad I couldn’t even lift my head to drink water. I just sat and moaned while Randy (now at about 70% strength) put the girls to bed.
What do we learn from this story?
1. I’m a wuss. Duh.
2. Being sick is no fun. Sometimes it helps to ignore the sickness. Other times it just feels better to wallow.
3. Anything he can do, I can do better, even the man cold.
I’m sorry ladies, but dudes don’t own the patent on over-indulgence when it comes to being ill. We might not be able to ask mom to make us chicken soup and pet our head anymore, but we can still crawl into bed with a box of Kleenex with the best of them.
By the way — and hear me well — this is totally fine! What does the doctor say when your kids get sick? “They just need rest and fluids.” Same for you, girlfriend! Get thee a mug of tea on your way to bed and take care of yourself!
“But Maggie,” you say. “Who will take care of things while I’m incapacitated?”
I say this from a point of privilege with such a supportive husband (who has a job that allows him to work from home in emergencies), but there has to be someone/something else that can keep the kids from getting into too much trouble. If not your spouse, how about other family members? A friend? A babysitter? The good old boob tube and a box of goldfish crackers? If there really is no way to distract the kids from needing you, can you get them to bed earlier? Have a stash of quiet games/toys/books for the “special occasion” of “mommy needs a time out”?
You may not win any awards for parenting, nor will you get to spend the whole day with your feet up and Days of Our Lives on TV, but there are ways to make sure the whole family makes it through the worst of your illness.
“But who will make dinner? Fold the laundry? Help with homework? Do the dishes,” you continue.
Answers: Domino’s. The kids (or skip it). Your spouse. The garbage (this is why we have paper plates.)
I’m about to say something shocking. You ready? Mama, the world will go on without you.
There are some things that just mom can do (snuggles, magically heal boo-boos, etc.) but a lot of our work can be delegated in dire straights. If your significant other or kids whine about their temporary responsibilities, remind them this is just a normal day for you, i.e. no big deal.
Here’s the ugly truth — My parents used to get into fights about my mom being a martyr. Don’t be a martyr. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of everyone else. Just as we tell those new mommies freshly home with newborns, it is okay to ask for help!
Please, for the sake of your kids, your spouse, and, most importantly, yourself take care of yourself this cold & flu season and always.