Monday, July 15, 2013

Moms Don't Get Sick Days

Do you want to know the difference between being sick before you're a parent and being sick after you're a parent?


Either way, you’re sick.

Only, after you become a parent, even if you're projectile vomiting like the girl from The Exorcist, or having diarrhea like your bowel wants to impress Old Faithful, you still have to take care of the child.

Have a bad cold?  Are your sinuses so congested you think they may explode out the front of your face?  Coughing so hard you're pretty sure your lungs are coming up next?  Too bad.  You still have to take care of the child.


What's that you say?

You say your spouse will take care of the child while you're ill?


You don’t get it?  Think about it.  I’ll give you a minute.

Still don’t get it?

Okay.  I can’t believe I have to explain this. 

If you're sick, your spouse will also get sick.  Then both of you are vomiting, coughing, moaning, congested, feeling like you’ve been run over by an eighteen wheeler carrying a load of hogs, still have to take care of the child.

Don't believe me?

Let me tell you a little story....

When my daughter, Iris, was fifteen or sixteen months old, she got the stomach flu.  I would tell you how pitiful it is when a toddler is vomiting, but that's not the point of this story (seriously, it was SO pitiful...the poor thing didn't understand what was happening and didn’t realize that she needed to put your face down to throw up or you’ll choke, and there was a lot of crying while we tried to teach her proper vomiting form and....*blink* wait...yeah....not the point. I'll stop.)

The point is that Iris got better.

And then I got worse.  A lot worse.  I woke up at three in the morning feeling nauseated and spent much of the next three hours in the bathroom.  Have you ever felt so awful you just wanted to lie on the cool tile of the bathroom floor and not move for the next forever?  Yeah?  Me, too!
Except Iris had a bad dream and woke up crying.  Guess who had to get up off the bathroom floor and soothe her back to sleep? 

Thankfully, my husband, Quinten, stayed home from work that day so he could take care of me and Iris.  Before she woke up in the morning, he ran to the store and got all those things you need when you have the stomach flu: Gatorade, Jell-O, popsicles, saltines, Sprite, chicken noodle soup. Then when she got up, he dealt with all things Iris so I could take care of myself.

I slept between trips to the bathroom, took small sips of Sprite when I felt like I could, and sacked out on the couch in front of endless episodes of House Hunters and Property Brothers while Quinten kept Iris busy.

This lasted for exactly six and a half hours.

Then Quinten, who had been standing in the family room holding Iris and asking me if I needed more Sprite, suddenly and wordlessly put Iris on the floor and ran for the bathroom.

After which, I had to get up off the couch so he could lie down. Because, even if I was feeling like utter shit, someone still had to take care of Iris and I was elected due to the fact that I was the one who was the least sick.  By which I mean I was able to stand without reflexively throwing up.

I had to just suck it up and start taking care of Iris despite the fact that I was working at the same operating speed and capacity as your average zombie.  Quinten got to start moaning, watching bad reality television, and making unplanned and frequent trips to the by-then overused bathroom.

I was the one who had to fix Iris lunch, sit with her while she ate it, and encourage her to eat more when she got distracted (which was often because, at that age, she had the attention span of a mosquito), all while the mere sight of food made me feel nauseated. 

I was the one who had to coax a very tired Iris up the stairs to get her to go down for a nap.  Upping the degree of difficulty?  The fact that Iris was entirely unconvinced that she needed a nap.  Ever.

I was also the one who had to get Iris up and change her poopy diaper (ever try changing a stinking near-blowout while nauseated?  It is exactly as bad as you’re thinking it is).

This was followed by me running to the bathroom several times in the middle of a game of hide-and-go-peek (which is a combination of hide and seek and peek-a-boo that involved Iris throwing blankets over her head and yelling "FIND ME MOMMY!!!!" as loud as she could).   

Now, imagine that from Iris's perspective. I felt semi-okay when we started. Iris hid under the blanket, I pretended I couldn't see the mound of blanket in the middle of the floor, then Iris flings the blanket off her head and I point to her, acting surprised, saying "there she is!" in a voice that was as enthusiastic as I could manage while simultaneously feeling like I might hurl. Iris hid under the blanket again, and I realized just then that I needed to get to the toilet right that second. So, while Iris was still hiding, I had to get up and sprint for the bathroom. Just as I got there, Iris flung the blanket off her head and.....Mommy was GONE!  "Mama?" she whimpered. I could hear her from the bathroom. "Mama?!?" the whimpering became more frantic, “MAMA??!?!??"  And, I swear I meant to call out to her that I was in the bathroom, but I was a little otherwise engaged at the time. "MAAAAAAMMMMMMAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!" By the time I got back to the family room, Iris was in a full-blown, can't-catch-your-breath sobbing fit.

I picked her up and hugged her to me and rocked her and, just as she was starting to calm down, I had to put her down and get to the bathroom again.

It took me a good thirty minutes to calm her down.  After that, I just had to take her to the bathroom with me, but, hey....  And if you were wondering if it's possible to comfort a toddler while sitting on a toilet?  Why, yes.  Yes, it is.

And, somehow, while powering through all that, I managed to keep Quinten comfortable, figure out (ugh) dinner, feed Iris, give her a bath, and get her down for the night. And, instead of crawling into my nice, warm bed and surrendering to the oblivion I so desperately wanted? I went back downstairs and took care of Quinten some more.

Oh, wait…you think it was bad because Iris was so young?  You think it gets better when your child gets older???  Really?  Seriously? 

You're so funny. 

You see, right now, I am sick.  I have a summer cold that leaves me feeling a little like a dragonfly squished on the windshield of a racecar.  Yesterday, while Quinten had to take advantage of the fact that, for the first time in ten days, it was not raining and mow the lawn, I thought I’d put on a movie for Iris and kind of sack out on the couch.  Not perfect, but it would do, right?  I’d get some much-needed rest and Iris would be entertained, right? 


Iris only understands “Mommy doesn’t feel very well” for four minutes at a stretch.  The rest of yesterday, Iris used me as a jungle gym, slide, and trampoline.  In that order.  Then, I was required to color, do puzzles, play princess, and read stories.  Not to mention the two and a half minutes where Iris was actually playing by herself and I dozed off only to be awoken by a child’s face one inch from my nose while she yelled, “I NEED TO GO PPPPOOOOOTTTTTTTYYYYY!!” and I had to haul my scratchy-throated, stuffy-nosed, groggy self off the couch to accompany Iris to the potty (because no one should ever trust a three-year-old to wipe themselves adequately after pooping). 

And I haven’t even gotten to the part about walking the puppy, playing with the puppy, keeping Iris from loving on the puppy too hard, keeping the puppy from treating Iris like a chew toy, and fixing meals.  By the time Quinten came back inside, I had decided that the only solution was, by sheer force of will, to just not be sick anymore.  Because Moms don’t get sick days.

I’m not telling you any of this in order to make you feel sorry for me (although if you wanted to feel sorry for me, I wouldn’t tell you no), or to gross you out.  I’m telling you this is to warn you....if you want to get sick, do it before you have a child.

1 comment:

  1. Funny!!! But so true, so true. "Moms don't get sick days." And we know that to be true in this country more than any other industrialized country in the world. Even moms who just had babies usually don't get anything. Now that can't be funny.