I recently discovered a new commandment in the parenting canon. Moms aren’t allowed to be ill. I think I’ll wedge it between ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and ‘somehow, after having children, your laundry never really ends, despite the fact that the clothes are way, way smaller than yours.’
This isn’t to say that moms don’t get sick. We catch everything our kids catch, usually from multiple children (including their friends), in a rotation. But we are NOT allowed to actually be sick. I’ll give an example. Last week, my husband caught some sort of horrible stomach flu. For four days, he slept. We barely saw him. He slept on the couch, he slept in bed, and then he got up to help as much as he could with bath and bedtime. He would then sleep some more. He was weak and nauseous, so his help was minimal, but I appreciated the effort this took. This is not a husband-bashing post – he was very sick, and he still tried his best to help. For three days, pretty much all he did was sleep, ache, and go to the bathroom for whatever he had to do to empty his stomach of all the food he apparently ate in the past decade. I am content to leave that a mystery.
Can you imagine what would have happened if it had been mom who had somehow come down with this stomach bug?
Day 1: Run to bathroom to vomit. Clean up vomit. Scrub down bathroom. Let kids watch TV. Run to bathroom. Repeat. Take copious amounts of Tums, Advil, Pepto-Bismol, and drink water in futile attempt to keep yourself hydrated. Husband home from work (yes, he went to work because the minions must eat), so you finally flop into bed and doze, while fending off children from pounding on door, asking for mommy, screaming, fighting, etc.
Day 2: Weak from hunger, but unable to actually keep anything down you repeat all the steps from Day 1, except the TV is constantly on and you have resorted to throwing any kind of food the children want at them (seriously, it doesn’t matter!) in an attempt to at least keep them alive until your husband comes home from work, when you can finally sleep for real.
Day 3: See Day 2.
Day 4: See Day 2.
Day 5: See Day 2.
Notice that those days are not in anyway restful. Moms get better in spite of doing not one thing a doctor would recommend: she doesn’t sleep, doesn’t push fluids, and doesn’t keep track of her condition except to note that it feels like death warmed over and in fact, death sounds like a really good idea because then she’d be sleeping in a comfy coffin all alone, with no interruptions.
I will say that if I had been that sick, my husband would probably have taken off at least a day off work or come home as early as possible because he’s lucky enough to have a pretty flexible job and is a wonderful husband and father. So I might have been lucky to do quite a bit of sleeping. But really, when small children are involved, kids and fathers are the only ones who are really allowed to wallow in their illness and get pampered. Thank goodness we love them so much, because otherwise no one would procreate ever again.