You may have noticed I didn’t post on Monday. Or last Friday. As you can guess from this post’s title, I was sick.
Remember when getting sick was awful? It meant you felt horrible and had to stay in bed. Now that I’m a mom, getting sick isn’t so bad. It means my husband feels horrible for me and I get to stay in bed.
Real evidence of sickness, such as high fevers and puking, aren’t so bad either. They’re kind of a bonus. See? I think as I look triumphantly at the thermometer reading. I’m not faking it so I can have a “day off.” I really am sick. And then I can fall back in bed with all guilt assuaged.
You know you know what I mean.
So. Despite the fact that I can’t call in sick or have an actual day off, I appreciate the benefits of being sick a lot more than I used to. Especially when the actual sickness isn’t all that bad (I’m happy to say that this weekend’s bout of whatever-it-was was very mild and involved no puking. Just some cramps and extended bathroom time. Which is pretty much awesome as far as stomach viruses go). Here are some of the reasons why being sick when you’re a mom isn’t always that bad.
1. You can let go of guilt. I’ve written a lot before about why moms shouldn’t feel guilty. But it seems to be a deeply-ingrained habit for most of us. So being sick is like a chance to push the reset button. To change your mindset. To accept that you can’t do everything and that’s okay. Which of course is true all the time. But it feels more true when you’re sick.
2. You are more likely to ask for help. It sucks when there really isn’t anyone you can ask for help. But most of us have at least one or two people we can turn to when things are really desperate. Like, you know, when we’re sick. My husband took Anastasia to the pool most of the day on Sunday, and I hired a “mother’s helper” (that’s like a babysitter who watches your kids while you’re still in the house) for a couple hours on Monday so I could take a nap. That’s money well spent (and some young teens charge as little as $2/hour to play with your kids while you’re around, so it can be pretty darn affordable).
3. You can leave things undone. There are thousands of things that can never be left undone, like feeding your kids and going to the bathroom. There are thousands of other things that can be left undone almost indefinitely, like folding laundry, ironing anything, or washing baseboards (I think I’ve washed baseboards once in my life. And I recently got rid of my ironing board). When you’re not sick, you tend to feel the pressure of all these chores equally. I have to make dinner and fold and put away the laundry and potty the baby and get the preschooler’s pajamas on and iron the napkins for the dinner party on Saturday and sweep and mop the floor and wash the baseboards, you think, in the insane stream-of-consciousness-of-chores that makes up the inside of a mom’s head. But when you’re sick, your brain shuts down. You stop thinking about all that stuff. Instead you hear your kid melting down and think, Screaming. Why is there screaming? And then you search through the deep recesses of your semi-conscious brain and come up with a plausible explanation: Food. You stumble to the fridge, get out some crackers and cheese, toss it on the floor in front of your toddler, and stumble back to bed. Problem solved. Dinner served.
4. You get a free TV pass. You didn’t get that in the mail when your baby was born? Here, let me send you one right now. I don’t care how natural your play materials are normally or how much you hate electronic media. You get a free TV pass when you’re sick, which you can use however you wish. You can let your kid watch TV all day if you want to. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Just turn on the cartoons. Yes, you’ll have to pay for that when you’re well again — But Mama, I want to watch Thomas all day like I did yesterday and the day before! — but you’ll be much more equipped to deal with that when you’re well. And if your child is a baby who’s too young to notice what you’re watching, then you get a free TV pass for yourself. You can lie on the couch all day watching TV. It’s what everyone imagines staying home with your kids is like. Live the dream for a day. Catch up on Glee.
5. Best of all, You might get more appreciation. My husband watched the kids all day Sunday, just bringing the baby to me when he needed to nap. I got to stay in bed. It was awesome. It felt like a real day off, because nursing the baby to sleep and then napping next to him really doesn’t count as work. So I got to rest, and my husband got to experience what it’s like to take care of two kids all day.
And then on Monday morning, my husband sent me a text. “Are you doing okay?” he wrote. “I don’t know how you manage on a normal day. Let alone when you’re sick.”
And that made being sick totally worth it.