When Mommy is Sick -- by Cara
I happened to be somewhat lucky that this illness came about during winter recess because we sent our son to a wonderful place each day where they have indoor swimming and a different theme for each day, along with the option of a hot lunch. I was so sick this week that I dragged my wretched body out of bed each morning, fed my son breakfast, supervised his morning routine of dressing, brushing teeth, etc, and then literally collapsed from exhaustion as my husband took our son to this “Winter Camp.”
I got to thinking how, as mothers, we always put everyone elses needs before our own, so many times, whether we are sick or not sick. And I very well could have let my husband take care of everything for my son since he was home. But that “Mommy Guilt” is what propelled me out of my bed. And it is what propelled me out of bed to make dinner for my son, even though I was shaking and shivering so much, I had to put on a hat and coat just to make my son something simple to eat when he came home from “camp” each day this week.
I guess it would be a little easier if my parents were both alive and young enough to help out in a pinch. Or if I had siblings who were willing to pitch in and help. But because I have literally no one, everything falls on me, sick or well. And let me tell you, it does take it’s toll. Especially when you are in your mid-forties with still a “youngish” child.
I am reading a very insightful, intellectual book called, The Mask of Motherhood,” by Susan Maushart, and in it she states, “One thing is certain: that we will never attain the goal of living comfortably with our choices as mothers until we acknowledge that we HAVE choices and, even more importantly, that we deserve to have them.” CHOOSING to yank myself out of bed when I am cold and shaking was driven by my guilt of not being a “Good Mom” and making my son a home cooked meal. What I SHOULD have done was stay in bed, called my husband, and asked him to bring home pizza for dinner. The family would still have gotten fed, but I would have been in bed resting, where I belonged.
When you have a toddler, or young child who goes to daycare, they are constantly sick and YOU are constantly sick. That’s just how it is. You just hope and pray the cold and flu season passes as quickly as possible and try to do what you can to meet both of your needs as best you can. But this drive to fulfill your child’s need before your own seems to become ingrained in you even from their birth. And even when they get to an age where they can get themselves dressed in the morning and brush their own teeth, as Moms we STILL want to be involved, even if from the sidelines.
I would do anything for my child, as most mothers would, but, as Susan Maushart continues, “Women who diminish their own needs ‘for the sake of the family,’ by whatever means and however sterling their motives, are living a lie. For if families do not begin with mothers, where DO they begin?” And especially if these mothers are “out of commission” by whatever means, does that imply that the family just falls apart?
I think as moms, especially us “Later” moms, we desperately need to tend to ourselves just as much, if not more than our families. We are doing a disservice to our loved ones by forcing ourselves to get out of our sick beds, purely out of guilt! A well, rested, cared for Mom is by far a better mom to everyone. Her children will benefit, her family will benefit, but most importantly, SHE will benefit. Because a happy, nourished Mom, really IS the best kind of Mom!