“Mama, my tummy hurts”.
I force one eye open, as I roll over in bed to face the bearer of this news.
She’s pale, dark eyed, and pretty convincing.
I squint at her, as my brain wakes up, and I realise that in all likelihood, she’s going to be home from school, and any plans I may have had will need to be mentally wiped from the slate.
Still, I try to negotiate, just to see if she’s bluffing.
“Come on, love, let’s try some breakfast and see if it helps. Sometimes your tummy gets sore if you’re hungry”.
I’m not optimistic, and she knows it. As she gets paler with each mouthful of cheerios, I give up whatever skerrick of false hope I was grasping for a false alarm, and she hops back into bed with a book, and the cat.
She’s the third member of our family of four to be wiped out by whatever bug this is, and to be honest, I’m still in the trenches with her.
Thank goodness I’m already on a sick day from work.
It’s been one of THOSE fortnights, and in all truth, sometimes you just need to throw your hands up in the air and admit defeat. Write the week off. Let that shit go. Just cuddle the kid until she feels better.
So much easier said (or typed) than done.
This is one part of motherhood that I wrestle with, and have done so, from the very start. When it comes to personality types, I’m a very typical Type A, meaning that I love to know what is happening, when it’s happening, and how it’s happening. It’s taken me an awfully long time to be able to manage the irrational frustration, and occasional resentment, that pops up when plans are disrupted, or cancelled, or changed, when things are out of my control.
Anyone who has kids, knows that from the minute that sperm meets the egg in that little biological dance of creation, your days of being in control (or even trying to hold onto the illusion that you are) are OVER. (If you haven’t had kids yet, and you are planning to, take this nugget of information with you, and store it away safely. You’ll need it).
Whenever my kids get sick, no matter how old they are, I feel immediately torn in two. On one hand, I want to nurture them back to health like the radiant Earth Mother that my Instagram says I am. That’s what my heart screams at me to do, loudly, with glaring neon, flashing lights for extra emphasis. On the other hand, there’s just so much other stuff that needs to be DONE, and during the illness-enforced down time, I’m internally tormented by how much stuff my task-focussed brain keeps telling me I’m going to have to catch up on when we emerge from quarantine.
I hate taking sick days from work.
I hate cancelling plans.
I hate not being able to follow through on something I said I would do.
But even more than that, I hate the thought of letting my kids down when they need me.
Did someone say MOTHER GUILT???
These factors are exacerbated by the anxiety I feel, knowing that my babies are sick, and knowing that the best I have to offer them is my cosy side of the bed, with cuddles, toast and warm milk. It doesn’t feel enough. I’m a do-er. I’m a fixer. And it seems to me, I’m not doing much doing, or much fixing, for that matter.
But, the Girl Child sees me differently. She’s glad I’m home from work today. She’s not worried about staffing, or rosters. She doesn’t care about appointments, or bills, or running the dishwasher. All she knows, is that she feels rubbishy, and that she loves being cuddled, and spoiled with food in bed, and reading stories, and that today, her mama is here, and that’s the way things are going down.
And underneath it all, even my highly-strung Type A brain knows that’s perfectly OK.