Don’t be confused by the title. I don’t mean “Sick” as said by the cool kids these days, as in “Dude, that is one sick ride!” Nope. Can’t do it, didn’t mean it (Be cool, woman). I am actually talking about being an unwell mother. Which is a concept most of us are unfamiliar with because mothers don’t get sick, rather they are not allowed to get sick. The smooth sailing of the vessel of our households depends on the mothers being of sound mind and body 24-7-365. That is why mothers simply grunt, cough, take a bunch of meds and carry on as normal. The ones like me complain in the process but the really awesome ones do not even talk about it and power through the sick days. I remember my own mother frequently suffering from acute migraine attacks in her youth and while I know that the intensity of such an attack can render one immobile, my siblings and I never missed a day of school, always had fresh home cooked meals and were generally pleasant smelling, well-behaved, well-performing kids.
A couple of weeks ago The Husband caught a bug at the office and had a bad cold for a few days. I did everything in my power to protect myself but since we share a bed and a lot more, he graciously shared his cold with me as well. This was the first time I had gotten very sick since having BabyZ so it opened my eyes to how differently fathers and mothers behave when ill. The Husband took a day off from work, slept as much as he wanted, had his wife doting on him and spoiling him with tea and attention and of course I made sure that he kept his distance from BabyZ. The next day he was feeling much better.
Then I got sick and I realized that I couldn’t afford any of the luxuries The Husband had enjoyed. I couldn’t take a day off from being a mother which meant that I couldn’t rest as much as I needed, which eventually lead to me taking longer to recover. I was up at my normal time, was fed, showered and loaded with medicines by the time my daughter woke up and said good morning to her with a mask on my face. From then on, it was a series of very tough three days. The Husband helped as much as possible, even came home in his lunch break one day to sit with our daughter while I took a hot bath to unclog my sinuses, but of course that wasn’t enough. By the third day I had regained enough presence of mind to accept that when you are a mother with little people depending on you, you also need to learn to give in sometimes, admit that you are sick and this day or days will be different from your usual ones. Here are my tips to help fellow moms cope with sick days:
- Do not suffer in silence. Let your partner or someone you trust enough to watch your children know of your poor health and see if they can hold the fort for a day or two while you rest and recuperate.
- Pick and choose your battles on your sick days. If your child didn’t finish his breakfast, just let it go this once. Leave some dry cereal or fruit around the area he is playing in and he is bound to get to it when hungry. If your kid, like mine, doesn’t like to have her hair brushed after a shower, leave it unkempt for one day. Who is it hurting? And if your child has found a crayon and is in the process of decorating the wall…just close your eyes, they get bored pretty soon.
- Go easy on the household chores until you feel better. Surely the entire family has enough clean clothes to last a few days without you doing laundry and remember, there isn’t a bad day that can’t be improved with pizza.
- Never under estimate the healing powers of a warm shower and clean clothes. This is my response to most of my ailments.
- My usual getting sick cycle is: I wake up on Day 1 feeling miserable and spend the whole day sulking and irritated. Then Day 2 hits and that is when I am feeling my worst and have no energy to even talk or perform the simplest of tasks. By Day 3 I am feeling much better and am back to being annoyed and sulky. So I have figured that I should try to get the really important tasks such as cooking for my daughter and vacuuming the floor out of the way on Day 1 and then I will be sorted for Day 2. What I mean is, it helps to understand the pattern of your poor health days.
- Since it is highly unlikely that you will get an opportunity to lie in your inviting bed while your child is awake, make a bed for yourself on the floor of the room where your kid spends his day. A pillow, a comforter to lie on and a throw to cover yourself are all you need. Shut down the rest of the house, put out some snacks for your kid, have a bottle of water for yourself nearby and close your eyes. But don’t get too comfortable because there is a toilet emergency in your near future.
- This can also be the awesome day on which your kids eat a Happy Meal for lunch and Dominos for dinner. They can also get unlimited TV and iPad time, as long as they let you sit quietly and think about the joyful times when your nose wasn’t blocked.
- If you are suffering from an illness that is catching, do everything in your power to protect your child from it. Because not only is it heartbreaking to see your child suffer, it is also a huge pain to attend to someone sick when you aren’t fully recovered yourself. Wear a mask, wash your hands as often as you can and express love from a distance. Not easy, I know.
- And most importantly, take care of yourself. Eat well, stay hydrated and remember to take your medicines on time, because the easiest thing for a mother to ignore, is her own self. But try to think about all the people who depend on you and that might give you some perspective and the energy to get up and make a cup of tea for yourself.
In an ideal world, none of us would get sick and Shake Shack would serve fries and cola with their tiny, over-priced burgers. But since we are not there yet, I hope all you mothers accept that it is OK to feel a little unwell at times and a few days of anarchy in the household cannot uproot your domestic administration. Just sit back and watch your partner manage the family without you for once, it might even make you laugh.