Being sick is so much different for a parent. We have tiny people to keep alive whether we’re ill or not. We have to make sure our kids get fed and clothed and bandaged if needed. We don’t get to beg off or go lay down. If we did, we couldn’t be sure the house would still be intact when we got up. We don’t get sick days.
Sure, we know what a sick day is. Those are the days when you can’t remember how to tie your kid’s shoes the right way because your head is somewhere up by the ceiling. They’re the days you’re too weak to lift or do anything so you make your children your goafers. They’re the days you give directives from your bed because your eyes are being forced out of your skull. They’re the days you feel sick but keep going.
I can’t say mothers are the only ones who don’t get to tag out when they’re sick. It feels like the internet is filled with blogs and articles about how moms never get a break or moms are on call 24 hours a day, but every house is different and some have stay at home dads. They feel the torture just as much as SAHMs. I want you to know I perfectly understand that before I tell you that’s not how it is in my house.
It doesn’t matter if my husband is home or not, I am the constant caregiver. He helps in every way he can, but he’s out of the home working hard for us 45+ hours a week. It’s me they see all the time. It’s me that has to set the rules and boundaries (and maintain them). We were having a discussion the other night and I referred to myself as a single parent. He, rightly, corrected me on that. He does what he does so I can stay home with the girls. I get that and even though I’m not always a single parent, I’m a sometimes single parent.
It’s me they run to, even if I feel out of commission. If I have a migraine that’s splitting my head open, the girls come to me to ask if they can do things that usually require my permission. They also come to me with paper cut outs they made to make me feel better. If I am feeling especially run down and I’m by myself with the kids for the day, the little energy I have has to be focused on them. Even if it means I won’t get that day’s blog post out. Those are the days I get to hear my LO say to me, “I so proud a you, Mommy.”
Sometimes I’m envious of my husband, though. I’m envious that he gets to do all the things I want to do when sick. If he’s lying down behind our closed bedroom door, he remains undisturbed. I wish I had that. I wish I had a moment or two to recoup. I wish I could get myself to the point I felt well instead of just better than I did. This ranks right up there with naps on my list of things I miss from my youth.
In grade school, it was a simple matter of a walk to the office. It didn’t matter if my parents had to work or if I wasn’t legitimately ill. Kick up enough fuss and I was out of there. A glorious day full of no math and no science. In the summer it only took one puppy dog look in the direction of my mom and I was home. Unlimited hot lemon tea covered with real whip cream and toast lightly coated with sugar and cinnamon all day long. I remember thinking how lucky my mom was to be able to take a day off work to stay home with me. Sometimes I saw it as me giving her a break.
As I got older staying home became more of a hassle. It meant no money from work and parental supervision. What teenager wants that? Even so, when I had to take one, it was there. Teachers were more lenient with homework and friends saved up news and important info for your return.
We put too much pressure on ourselves to be everything for our kids. It’s not our role to be their entertainer, and it’s certainly okay to leave them with a sitter. As a SAHM, though, it feels like a cop out. There’s a stigma to it. First of all, moms have made it through birth; they can make it through the flu or a head cold, right? And SAHPs are the ones who stay home all day, what do they need rest from?
I have written about this before, and it’s no less relevant now. We can’t be good parents if we are emotionally and physically ill. I don’t know about you, but I need to take a sick day every now and again. Even if it’s just to play hookie. It’s the only way I’m likeable.
When’s the last time you had a sick day? Make a plan, set a date and tell me all about it.
Also, because I’m a Mom, I’m writing this with a very fuzzy head while children run around me screaming. I make no apologies for jumping topics.