This morning, I woke up feeling like crap.
My toddler is running a fever, my house is a mess, a cabinet literally fell off the wall as I fixed my kids breakfast (no joke), we’re due to have a home inspection this afternoon, I have work up to my shoulders due to my clients, and a whole houseful of people relying on me to get them where they need to go today.
And in the midst of grumbling as I make my way to the medicine cabinet to swallow a wheelbarrow full of pills I can only hope will at least get me through the day, I can’t help but fantasize about what the world is like for people who actually get to take a sick day when they are sick. As a mom who has been home with my four young kids for almost ten straight years, I have never had one. Ever.
It may sound like a small thing, but my greatest fantasy in life is simply getting to take an actual sick day when I’m sick. And here’s why:
1. Knowing I can’t rest properly only prolongs the sickness
If I was like a lot of people who maybe don’t have little kids or do have regular childcare or perhaps even my husband, who has um, me to rely on when he’s sick, I could actually take a real sick day and give my body time to rest and heal when it’s sick. Turns out, your body needs sleep and rest and downtime when you’re sick, and I hate that I can’t give myself that. Knowing I won’t actually get a real sick day also means knowing that more likely than not, my illness will be prolonged simply because I can’t slow down enough to let my body do what it needs to do to get better.
2. Me being sick = kids being sick
99.99% of the time, if I’m sick, one of my kids is sick, too. Which means that there is no rest for this weary mama. I’m cleaning up puke or measuring out medicine or comforting a miserable child. Sure, there may be a little more guilt-free screen time than usual, but there are also other kids in the house who still need their homework checked and lunches packed and someone to switch those vomit-crusted sheets. It’s hard enough taking care of sick and cranky kids, but when you’re sick on top of it? It’s just downright defeating.
3. It makes me resentful.
I get resentful of my husband for the littlest things. If you’re a fellow at-home mom, you might get where I’m coming from. I resent the fact that when my husband is sick, life is simple for him: he calls in sick at work, takes a nap, and gets better. When the kids are sick, he just goes to work; he doesn’t have to wonder how his own work will get done in the midst of caring for little people, and he doesn’t panic when his boss calls a last-minute meeting because he has no one to pick the kids up from school. I am the constant in our lives. I’m the one who manages the children, and it’s so easy for me to get resentful thinking there is absolutely no one in the world to help me even make breakfast when I’m sick. Being sick only compounds the feeling of being all alone and carrying the tasks of four children, a house, and my own work.
4. A sick day sounds like a dream day
An excuse to do absolutely nothing but lay around and watch movies while maybe sipping on some soup or hot tea? Um, I would pay good money for that, people.
5. Flu season seems like a nightmare that never ends
I don’t need a debate about vaccinations or an invitation to join your oils group on this one, but I do need a good vent session about how downright hard the fall and winter months can be on families with little kids. Two of our four kids are entering school for the first time ever, which equals tons of germs. My husband happens to be a middle-school teacher, so he brings home the worst of the worst. Point being, it’s only September and we’ve already been hit with one exhausting virus—and it feels like it’s just the beginning. I feel tired before the school year has even really started.
Everyone talks a big talk about self-care for moms and how important it is to “take time to care for yourself” when you’re sick. But no one mentions how literally impossible that is if you’re a mom with young kids, especially when those kids are usually sick right alongside you. So if you’re a fellow mom in the trenches, facing down a long season of colds and flus and pukes and who knows what else, without anyone to call when you actually get sick yourself? Let me just say I completely understand.
And I will be right here with you, chugging DayQuil, raising my snot-filled tissue to you, and hoping that someday, we will see our dreams of actually taking a real sick day come true.