Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's my first sick day

So, I had a mom growing up. Obviously, since I've written about her before. The point is, that there are a few situations I mentally prepared for after years of observation.
I knew how it always was at our house when a sickness was going around. The entire family would get it one by one and Mom would take care of us. We were all a bunch of unapologetic whiners and the question "Am I dying?" was guaranteed to be thrown around with as much seriousness as though we had all been diagnosed with some terminal illness, even with a common cold. We are a family of wimps, what can I say? Mom would bring us drinks with bendy straws (because bendy straws are practically a miracle medicine), clean up our midnight barf episodes, and tell each of us for the millionth time that no matter absolutely positive we were that we were 105 degrees, we actually did not have fevers, and to stop taking our freaking temperatures every 5 minutes. She would get particularly frustrated when Dad and I would alternate with the thermometer contending to see who had the worst non-fever (98.9, take that!). After we all miraculously recovered and were back on our feet, Mom would fall victim to the malady.
If she asked us if she was dying, we would say "Geez, get over it, we all lived." She still had to be the finder of lost things, because no matter how sick she was, it didn't change the fact that I was missing one Sunday shoe. She got poked and asked "are you sleeping?" by my sister, and had to take a forgotten school lunch to my brother. She was still Mom, fever or not, still Mom, barfing or not. Still Mom, and still needed.
I saw all this, along with added testimony from my mommy friends that there are no sick days, and being ill just means your husband is going to become helpless and irritate you more than any normal day. I saw it, I heard it, thought I understood it.
Today, I lived it.
Being a sick mom sucks worse than I imagined. I've been sick alone in a college apartment during finals, I've been sick for my own wedding, and I've even spent part of my honeymoon throwing up violently in a public restroom (no, I don't want to elaborate). I've had entire workdays filled with pregnancy nausea. My point is, I know what it is to be sick, even without my mom or hubby to pamper me. I don't like it, but I've done it. I know what it is to be sick and have to keep going for my own good. I had no idea what it is to be sick and keep on working for someone else. It's relatively easy to get up and go when it's your final grade or your job on the line. It's easy to call in sick and let someone else screw up your job for a day. It's even somewhat easy to get up in the night to take medicine and try to clear a breathing passage so you don't sound like a chainsaw. It's harder to get up at 2am to feed a screaming baby when you just don't want to. It's hard to give your husband a pass on baby duty when you feel lousy, even though you know he's got finals for graduation, plus an 11 hour workday, and volunteer work for the church on his plate today, plus he doesn't feel so hot himself. It's really hard to balance the need to take care of yourself, your baby, and toss on the stress that you'll infect your husband or child and make life worse for all of you.
I'm sure better moms than me will say it's easy to put themselves last, or it's a labor of love and they don't mind, or something equally nauseating, but the fact is that for me, in this one capacity it's been excruciating. I've given up my job, my sleep, any semblance of attractiveness I once had, my waistline, regular forays outside of my home, and most of my brain capacity for my little angel and not genuinely missed any of it (okay, my brain I miss). It has been hard, but not nearly as hard as I thought. What I get back from my punkin doodle has made the sacrifices seem small. Oddly enough, giving up my ability to spend a day curled up in bed watching trashy talk shows, doped up on Nyquil, eating chicken soup and feeling bad for my pitiful self has been the toughest hurdle yet.
I guess it's because for the first time ever I am realizing that there will never be a circumstance that makes it okay to be selfish again. All those times I thought it was acceptable to make it "all about me" pale in comparison to the fact that I am living for others now, one of whom starves without my existence. So, maybe she won't starve--they do make formula--but the fact is, no one has ever needed me as much as my daughter. My selfish days are over forever, because I will always be a mom now, and I will always have a mom outlook on things. I guess realizing it intellectually and realizing it in reality are two different things. I didn't know that until this hit me like a ton of snot. On the plus side, I am surviving my first mom sickness with no violence directed at my husband, yet.
Oh, and for the record, I still feel disgusting.

No comments: