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When Mom Gets Sick

What happens in your house when mom gets sick? I recently had an illness. It wasn’t severe–thank goodness–but it was enough to keep me out for a few days, and then then to limit me for several more. It made me think about several things, like contingency plans. And in some ways, I am a better mom for it.

Since I am not working outside the house for now, my husband and I have arranged our schedules and our duties accordingly. For example, when I am home during the day, he obviously is not. But when you can barely stand up, how can you hold a baby? And when hubby isn’t home, who can do it for you? I had never thought about this. I considered calling a few people for help, but really, I felt a little lame asking for help. So I broke a lot of parenting rules to keep it easy in the short term (like a lot of pacifier use and applesauce). Now that it’s all over, several friends said, “You really should have called me…” Yes, I see that I should have.

And when the crisis first hits at 1:30 a.m. (as it always does), there is no time to figure out who will stand next to the baby’s crib and pat her butt when she wakes in the middle of the night. Though all of the best contemporary dads believe they equally share duty for middle-of-the night wakings, I don’t know a single family where that’s really true. (It may be true, I just don’t know any of those families.) Nighttime in my home has always been the duty of the person who doesn’t have to be at work at 7:00 am. And for the most part, it seems pretty fair to me. So when the baby goes through one of her cycles of not sleeping through the night (a few weeks on, a few off), my husband sleeps in our son’s room on the other side of the house so he can get some rest. Of course, the first night I woke up with the flu, he was out of earshot. It made me think of that Cosby show when both parents are calling for Theo who can’t hear them. Anyway, I was curled up on the bathroom tile, the baby was wailing, and my helpmate was alseep somewhere else.

What ended up happening was that I curled up on the floor of the baby’s room while she cried herself to sleep. It was a little more dramatic than I would have been comfortable with. But in the end, it really helped her sleep better. Maybe I should have done that a long time ago.

Then, who makes dinner? I like to cook, make time for it, and rarely have convenience foods around. I plan the whole week so I have simple meals for busy days. The first evening that rolled around, my husband bravely made ravioli for himself and our son. But that was the end of my freezer stash. They ended up ordering out after that, which is way too expensive. Being sick made me realize that planning ahead wasn’t all I needed to do. The first chance I got I made sure there were plenty of things in the freezer for emergencies.

I don’t have any earth shattering insights here. I just know I am back to full strength, and that I never realized how hard it is to get sick. I think I might reconsider that flu shot!

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