There is only ONE thing I miss about having a 9 to 5 job: taking sick days.
For all you stay-at-home parents out there, you know what I mean. There are no sick days. No mental health days. No “I’m-going-to-call-in-sick-but-actually-go-shopping-or meet-a-friend-for-lunch” sick day. You have a killer migraine? You keep going. You are so congested that everyone can hear you breathe even if you’re on another floor? You keep working. You tear all your ligaments in your left ankle? You put on a happy face. You recover from getting a gall bladder removed? You still change diapers, feed your kids, and try to get them to understand why you can’t carry them. (By the way, I didn’t have my gall bladder removed but my cousin did who stays at home with two children under the age of 2!) The kids don’t care how much sleep you haven’t gotten or whether your head feels like someone is taking a hammer to it whenever there is a sound that is louder than a pin dropping.
Around our house, a “sick day” is when one (or more than one) child is sick. We have a lot of those during this time of year. In fact, 2 of them are not feeling their best. #4 and #5 have just come down with something. I took the kids to the zoo on Tuesday. I knew something was brewing with #4 by the afternoon. Her nose was runny and she transformed into Whiny Whinerson asking to be carried while we were in the middle of a trail at the zoo. I am already sweating bullets from carrying #5 in a wrap and pulling up a wagon with a 25lb weight in it up steep inclines all afternoon saying, “I think I can….I think I can…” in my head all the way up. So I take a deep breath and tell myself that it will be a good work out and carry her for a little bit while #2 is assigned wagon-pulling duty.
Needless to say, #4 is a wreck in the day and #5 is a wreck at night. Perfect. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that these bouts of the common cold will pass and to remember that all I can do is give lots of hugs and fluids. My kids are relatively healthy and I am grateful that runny noses, phlegmy coughs, and sleepless nights are the only inconveniences that must be dealt with.
After having children, I have quickly realized how much stronger I am mentally and physically. I think back to my old working life and when I used to take sick days for a bad cold or headache. What a wuss. I’ve learned a lot from my kids. They all approach being sick differently. #1 confines herself to her bed and adopts the “woe is me” attitude which irritates me. #2 suffers in silence and needs nothing and in fact, hates to be doted on. #3 vomits with a smile on her face. #4 needs lots of lap time and cuddles. Guess who heals the fastest? The one who smiles despite the fever, the aches, and the vomit. One day she was sick in bed and she came downstairs very groggy and disoriented and I said to her, “You don’t feel very sparkly today, do you?” To which she replied, “No, but I am wearing a dress!” And she did a lack-lustre twirl and a curtsy for me right before passing out on the couch.
Sick day. Schmick day. Thanks for the lesson #3.