10 slightly painful reasons there is no such thing as a sick day when you're a mum
Remember sick days from your pre-child life? When you could call in sick, crawl back in under the covers and just watch TV and sleep until you felt well enough to re-join the world?
Fast forward a few years and two children later, and my occasional sick day looks about as far from this scenario as you can get. In fact, being sick now that I am a mum pretty much just looks like any other day, with the added fever/cough/splitting headache thrown in. I call them "suck-it-up-and-just-try-to-survive" days now.
Because far from the hot tea, Netflix and paracetamol induced coma I would have loved to have indulged in, when I got sick last week and was alone with the kids for two full days straight on top of it all, it was just business as usual.
Like most mums when faced with being sick ourselves, I tried to pretend it wasn't happening. Like; if I ignore it, surely it will go away?! It didn't.
So after having accepted defeat, I hauled myself to the GP's office on Friday, only to be told I had a hefty chest infection and put on two different types of antibiotics. Once out (still sick and €60 euros poorer) it suddenly dawned on me that: 1. Tomorrow was Saturday and there was no school or creche to ship the kids off to so I could be ill in peace. And 2. The Other Half was signed up to play a (according to himself) extremely important charity football and would be gone ALL DAY.
At this point I wished for a lot of things. That Other Half would ditch the football team (AKA office boys who all think they are Wayne Rooney) and stay home. That my own mum lived closer than she does (two flights away in a different country. Sob.) That it would suddenly decide to lash all weekend so I would feel better about making the kids stay in with their sick mama all weekend. But as none of the above happened, I just had to brace myself and face the music.
Here is how my just-like-any-other-day sick day last Saturday went (in 10 painful steps):
1. Wake at 5.24 AM when 2-year-old demands yoghurt. And by demand I mean SCREAM THE HOUSE DOWN. Actually try to get out of bed, but feel so fragile I just get back in and tell him we have no yoghurt. Listen to him cry for what feels like a fortnight, but is in fact "only" 17 minutes. Fall back asleep when he is asleep, although uncomfortably so as he is somehow on my pillow and under it at the same time.
2. Wake at 8 AM when 2-year-old has woken 5-year-old and they both want breakfast. Tell Other Half to get them cheerios and place them in front of TV and tell me when he HAS to leave for his day of football fun. Then and only then will I get up.
3. 8.50 AM: Other Half leaves and I wrap myself in my thickest bathrobe AND the faux fur throw that covers the bed and somehow move myself from bed to sofa. Trying not to disturb the kids that at this point are glued to Dora and Friends into the City. Say a prayer of thanks to inventors of Dora. And Televisions. And electricity.
4. Slumber my way through another episode of Dora before being woken up by the tell-tale smell from 2-year-olds nappy. At this point I almost cry a little bit from self pity. One should NOT be made change smelly nappies when in this state. Mentally moan at the universe, but get on with business as 5-year-olds starts complaining she will get sick from the smell. Cannot cope with puke on top of poop, so just get the nappy debacle over with.
5. At 11.07 I suddenly remember that 5-year-old has ballet class at 11.30. AND a birthday party at 2 PM. Meaning I need to root out not only her clothes for ballet, but also a party dress for later. Manage to dress myself and kids and let 5-year-old pick birthday outfit herself. Will worry about what she chose later (gold sparkly tights with fuschia pink sun dress and a tiara. I can almost feel the other mums judge my taste in children's wear.)
6. Feel unfit to drive but the thought of walking to ballet is a no-go. Not today. Say a prayer that 2-year-old will decide to have a nap today (he is just tethering on the line between sleeping during the day and not). He opts out. Meaning I spend the hour while 5-year-old is at ballet chasing him around the nearest green. Count minutes until I can get back into my pajama pants again.
7. 1.47 PM: Manage to talk 5-year-old into a less stripper-y outfit for party and get her shipped off. Mentally thank myself for having a stack of birthday cards and emergency presents ready. Almost weep with relief when one of the other mums, sensing my fragile state, offers to drop 5-year-old home after party. Take 2-year-old and get home and into pajama bottoms as fast as I can.
8. 3 PM: Realize the fridge is EMPTY and I have to feed 2-year-old something but raisins and cheerios, surely. (Although secretly wonder if I could get away with it, that is how ill I feel. I mean, he is hardly going to tell on me, now, is he?!) Take off pajama bottoms, put on normal clothes, put 2-year-old in car and drive to Tesco. Fill trolley with equal parts food and painkillers. Race back home and put pajama pants back on. Other Half rings to tell me his team is doing well in the tournament. Sigh loudly and tell him I am still alive and surely that is a far greater achievement.
9. 4.18 PM: 5-year-old gets home and I somehow manage to feed them both dinner. By dinner I mean frozen fish fingers and rice. Put them both in pajamas by 5 PM and tell them we are having a special movie night. Take some paracetamol and bring all our duvets into the sitting room. Treat for them, survival tactic for me. Claps all around for mummy.
10. 8 PM: Face-time my mum for some digital sympathy. She delivers as usual. Nothing beats your mum when you are sick! (Or any other time for that matter). Turn TV off and go to bed with kids. In the double bed. As a silent punishment for abandoning me today I spread us out to the extent that Other Half will have no choice but to sleep in the kids' room when he gets in. Mentally pat myself on the back for having made it through the day and kept two kids alive too. There really are no limits to what mothers can do.
(Take note: If you have kids and are ever sick on a weekday and have a job outside the house, go in. Unless we are talking about a situation where you have one foot in the grave, you will almost always be better off in work than at home. Trust me.)