No Sick Time for Moms

allergy-cold-disease-flu-41284By Kathy P. Behan

I really hate being sick. It’s not just the scratchy throat, runny nose, no energy and queasiness that I abhor. What I object to most is that no matter how sick I am, I still have to do everything I usually do. I just have to do so while feeling spectacularly crummy.

This has got to be one of the worst parts of being a stay-at-home mom. It’s certainly different from the good old days. When I was young and too sick to go to school, my mom would wrap me up in an Indian blanket on a couch in front of the television and serve me ice cold glasses of ginger ale and hot bowls of chicken noodle soup.

The best part was that I’d get a chance to infiltrate her world, watching her bustle around the house cleaning and organizing, and listening to her chat and laugh on the phone. Sometimes we’d watch old movies together and talk about the film’s stars. That’s why being sick was never all that unpleasant. And if I needed anything, all I had to do was ask from the cozy warmth of my nest on the couch.

Now that’s what I call being sick. Even when I had a regular job, I enjoyed sick days. I did have to wait on myself though, because after all I was an adult, and I couldn’t import my mother every time I had a sniffle. I liked staying home from work and luxuriating in my lazy and fevered state. I’d sleep whenever the mood struck, and generally be the perfect patient, drinking juice and lolling around in bed.

Boy, have times changed. Now when I’m sick, life goes on as before. The only difference is that I’m exceptionally slow, crabby and pathetic as I go about my chores and daily routine. I expect everyone around me, especially my children, to be extremely well-behaved, and more importantly, nice to me in my “sick” state.

Oh, in a fantasy world, the kids would be concerned and helpful, cheerfully calling out, “Let me do that for you, Mom, you just rest.” And taking pity on me, they would declare a temporary cease-fire, pledging to get along for my sake.

Obviously reality is much different. I’m staggering around the house looking and feeling as if I’ve been run over by a truck, and yet, I still have to prepare meals, clean house, carpool and play with a house full of kids. When fights break out (and some days it seems as if they run continuously), I can’t even yell because my throat hurts so much that I can’t work up to the proper window-shattering volume that gets their attention.

Tea and sympathy — that doesn’t sound like too much to ask for, does it? Maybe I’ll just lock myself in my bedroom for a few minutes of R&R, or at least until the kids find me.

Kathy P. Behan, a mother of three, is a nationally published freelance writer, specializing in health and family issues.

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