Spending a sick day at home after a sick night. I’m reaching that point where I’m perked up but could not face going into work, especially since that would mean changing out of the clothes I slept in (which I also wore the day before), brushing my teeth and hair, and removing the pity-me-look from my face. So instead, I am checking in on email, writing this post, and eating chicken noodle soup and rainbow sherbet like a 5-year-old.
Any adult–particularly an older adult with children–can count on one hand the number of times in the past however many years they have simply spent a workday at home doing, being, seeing nothing. It’s not how we’re programmed. We have responsibilities. We have people depending on us. We are invincible. But every now and then you just have to give in and say, nope, there ain’t no way.
I say older adults with children not to take away from the professionalism and responsibility of younger adults or those without children. However, if you have children, and particularly if you’re a mom (sorry guys), well then you know that even when you’re sick, you’re not sick.
If today were happening 15 years ago, instead of having a quiet house all to myself in which to wallow in my pity and sickness, I would have an infant to feed, change, and entertain; a 4-year-old to transport to and from preschool; and a first-grader to walk to the bus stop (which happened to be at the end of our driveway, but we have a long driveway). Of course my husband would pitch in and do all of that if he could. But there were times when he couldn’t depending on his work schedule. And since I was a stay-at-home mom, I stayed at home sick, but not sick.
The weird thing is that when you reach a point where hands-on childcare is a memory, you wonder how in the world you sometimes muddled through everything that had to be done on a normal day let alone while feeling ill. I’m afraid that if my kids were still little and home with me today, I would simply have to say, “I am off duty, guys! Be careful, don’t use the oven, and let’s all hope for the best! Wake me up if you see flames or blood. Oh, and that baby over there? Pop him a bottle now and then.”
I don’t know which was harder–being the only sick one at the time or having sick kids at the same time. Because sometimes when your kids are sick, too, they will happily lie on the sofa all day requiring nothing but juice, TV, and love. Well, not an infant, but sometimes that infant may sleep more. But if your kids are sick, sick (as in requiring buckets and the like), then that is definitely not easier. And of course if they’re really sick, then you have to take them to the pediatrician, who will probably look at you and say, “You don’t look so good yourself.” When your kids are well then they still have to go to school and preschool and they want you to do all the things that you normally do for them. I guess its a no-win situation. Being a sick mom simply doesn’t exist.
Obviously (I hope), I’m talking about adults with generally good health, not those with chronic or seriously debilitating illness. Those mothers (and fathers) have my admiration and heartfelt empathy. I cannot imagine caring for young children while dealing with your own life-threatening or life-changing diagnosis, and yet I know there are legions of those parents out there. Atlas himself would probably be in awe of the weight shouldered by these men and women.
I’m not enjoying being sick, but I am enjoying my sick day. When I look around the room, I can almost see the high chair, the playpen, the bouncy seat–all the tools of the young-motherhood trade. And those specters are a source of comfort and joy. Mostly because they bring back such good, happy memories–a time in my life that I would not trade for anything else in this world or the next and will cherish forever and beyond. But also because the apparitional high chair, playpen, and bouncy seat, are now empty! And I can just lie on the sofa without budging an inch, enjoying the memories with my feet up and my head in the clouds.