Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Mom Sick"

Yes, Mom Sick, not mommy IS sick. You already know, if you read my last post, that I've been coughing and hacking for a while now. There's a big difference between being sick and being mommy sick. For folks in the drive/walk/bike/Metro to work world, when you get sick you take time off from work to heal and recover. (You see where this is going don't you and it's just the very beginning.) Then, you go back to work a day or week later all well rested and ready to go. Or, you get to where you can barely function and creep/crawl back into work hoping that your co-workers don't scowl but knowing that you have too much to do to stay home any longer (yes, I've been there too.) Well, moms have the same problem occasionally (the sick part, not the crawling back into work because of the piles). You see, moms don't ever get a day off - we just don't have sick leave. Fortunately, we get Mom Sick as opposed to sick, most of the time we come down with ailments. There are, of course, different levels of Mom Sick:

Level 1: You drag around, still accomplishing most of what you need to get done, but take long breaks sitting on the chair/bench/couch/driver's seat. You still are able to drive. You get random looks of disgust when you cough/sputter/drag around, but also sympathetic looks. Your parenting shifts towards letting things slip, but you are still feeling O.K. enough not to let that happen. Very little extra cleaning involved.

Level 2: You are running about 50%, still able to drive, but drop the kids off instead of walking them in. You shy away from human contact as you might infect/repulse/completely offend others. The kids come and ask you (while you are sitting on the couch/bed) to open their juice/hand them some milk/make their PB & J, and you give them just one chance to get you into the kitchen and no more. That second trip could have bad consequences. Some minor clean up (towels, clothing, floors) might be necessary, but at this stage you can generally get to the bathroom in time. (Sorry - too descriptive but necessary.)

Level 3: You stay in bed and sleep all day, yelling at the kids occasionally when they get too loud/close to you, but try to avoid any and all contact with them or anyone else. They end up watching TV/playing video games all day and have to scrounge for food themselves, but you do none of this for yourself. There's no way that you can drive so if your significant other isn't around, the kiddos have a sick day too. Massive clean up is necessary, but since you are the cause and you can't seem to drag yourself out of bed, it waits until tomorrow.

"Mommy Sick" kicks in at Level 2 and continues up through Level 3. For most folks who work outside the home (and some who work at home with help) and have kiddos, they can take those lovely sick days. (I am well aware that not everyone can take/has sick days, so this covers them as well.) Mommies, however, don't get those days off any way you look at it. Fortunately, I am able to parent from my bed, the couch, the floor of the bathroom (Ugh, again, sorry!) or anywhere I find myself when sick. My kids are all old enough to feed themselves (mostly) and my loving hubby has always been around to at least drop kiddos off at school and pick them up and dash back to work. The few times that I've hit Level 3 he's done that part for me, and I've been able to parent/ sleep off the rest in the comfort of my own bed. Sad to say, but while moms don't GET the sick leave, we do what we need, and run with the whole Mom Sick part for days, weeks, or sometimes months. Fortunately when we had those precious little bundles of joy they made us all take a training course in how to be mommy sick, and told us that it's really O.K. if your kiddo eats chips for breakfast, watches five hours of TV, plays video games for six hours, eats who knows what for lunch, and does who knows what to their playroom. Yeah, right.

But the best part, no matter whether you get sick leave and take it, have to use your Mommy Sick leave, or whatever way you manage to handle your illness, your kiddos will be fine. One or two days off the kiddo track will not destroy their little brains. While we joke that their brains have leaked out of their heads, this rarely occurs. Many a kiddo has managed to survive a day with mommy or daddy laid out on the couch and lived to tell about it. So Mom Sick is more of a mindset and while seemingly a bummer for us mommies, is not so terrible for the kiddos.

No comments: