May 8, 2014

in sickness and in health – the 24-hour mom

I think it was Sunday or Monday that I started coming down with this cold. I honestly haven’t been able to taste food since then, four or five days later. I’ve slept with my mouth open for three nights despite using nasal strips, a humidifier, decongestants, and vapor rub. I’ve been using my son’s very expensive boogie wipes (great invention, ridiculous price point) to avoid having my nose look like a crocodile’s. I’m starting to consider using a neti pot, but I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the concept.

What I have tried to do is not withhold attention from my son, or cook dinner, or go through any of the motions of daily life. Because being a mom means the show must go on.

I count myself blessed to have a husband that steps in when I’m miserable like this, even though he’s had the same cold to a lesser degree. But I push myself anyway, and I’m not sure why. I guess I just don’t want to feel like a slacker unless I have no other choice, and the common cold isn’t enough for me to justify it. I’ve been smiling and playing with my son when I can, and just getting things done that need to be done. I crash on the couch once he goes to bed.

A few weeks ago, when a double ear infection really had me flattened, I still smiled at my family even though I couldn’t get out of bed. The boy’s reaction? He brought two of his trucks from his room and put them on the bed near my feet, as if sharing his toys would make me feel better. It was such a sweet gesture, and I thanked him wholeheartedly for it. My husband put on his shining armor and became my hero, taking over household things and helping out without me asking (and especially when I did ask).

Sickness is just part of the deal. Parenting never stops. But when it slows down for illness, I have to call in for reinforcements whether I think I need it or not. I have this tendency to act like it’s all up to me all the time. I have no idea where this comes from, and I know it’s not true. Maybe I need to be sure that I can do it all, just in case someday I have to. Then there’s the knowledge that for some moms (and dads), there isn’t a choice. There are no reinforcements. So the least I can do is do it all once in a while.

This is the point at which a reasonable voice says “This is stupid. You are half of your son’s parents, so quit acting like it’s all up to you because it isn’t.” In fact, I could very well sabotage my husband’s efforts as a dad by acting this way. It’s not healthy for any of us.

Even as I type this, I’m starting to feel feverish. I give up. I need my one-man cavalry. I think I’ll crawl into my couch this afternoon and do what I'm supposed to do when I'm sick -- rest and let someone help.