Even all these years into motherhood, I still have days when I wish someone else could be the mom. Do I have to? my inner voice whines. Can’t someone else fill in for me today? I don’t wanna be in charge. You can’t make me. Oh, wait. Yes, you can. Because let’s face it, when the puke hits the floor, you’re it. Besides Daddy, if you’re lucky, there’s no one else who’s going to step in and make it all better. Paging Mommy. Cleanup on Aisle 1.
Sick days are the worst. Even worse than the leaving-the-hospital-for-the-first-time panic and the newborn sleepless nights. If you’re lucky – and I use that term loosely – you will be spared when illness hits your house, mowing down your babies and spouse. Lucky because you at least will be of sound mind and body while you’re taking care of everyone else. The WORST is when you are sick, too. Because as every mom knows, we don’t get sick days. Ever. Life marches on.
I remember hanging my head over the toilet bowl when I was 8 mos. pregnant with my second child, gripping my tight, swollen belly and wishing I could die right then and there on the far-from-immaculate tile floor. My son and I had contracted a stomach bug. So as not to worry him, I was trying to be as discreet as one can when one fears a baby might emerge from the wrong end of her body. Is it possible to throw up a baby? I would’ve Googled it if I’d had the strength.
If you’re lucky – and again, that term is relative – your husband or another family member will be available to come to your aid. Not to take care of YOU, mind you, but to tend to your offspring while you heave your intestines out. But all too often, a mom can find herself horrifyingly alone in these situations. Forced to survive so that she may nurture and protect her young. Just let me die… then, at least, someone ELSE will have to care of everything. It’s hard not to have these thoughts when you’re gripped with nausea and faced with a dirty diaper.
And when your child’s sick… The pain of looking upon their poor little flushed cheeks and glazed eyes is matched only by the agony of the clock tick-tocking away ever so slowly as you go nowhere and do nothing, except pray for the swift passing of this latest malady. Honestly, the scariest part of my kids being sick is that they are suddenly and uncharacteristically quiet and listless. Seeing them lie on the couch, too tired to even watch TV is alarming. Make it stop!
But we are lucky. And here I mean “lucky” for real. Sick days, for my kids and for me, are few and far between. A day or two of discomfort and stultifying boredom, and we are up and at ’em again. And for that, I am thankful. Not as thankful as I’d be if someone showed up on my doorstep with vegetarian chicken noodle soup for me and endless patience for playing Candyland with my kids, but thankful nonetheless.