After a week long bout of viral infection, I have come to the conclusion that feeling ill as a parent is one of the toughest situations. Weak and exhausted, as I lay on my bed moaning with body pain, the only thought that kept cropping up is why, oh why, did I have to fall ill? With two little kids, and a husband whose line of duty often keeps him away, I am the single caregiver and parent in the home front. Thus, by me falling ill, the household actually comes to a standstill.
I look forward to the monsoons almost every year. I love the smell of the wet mud, the gentle breeze that sweeps the trees and all things fresh and clean around. But this time around, I got sick. Really sick. My throat felt sore. I was running a high temperature, and could barely swallow. My doctor confirmed the seasonal virus at play, with a prescription of antibiotics and an order to stay put in bed and rest. For most moms I know, staying in bed and resting is a difficult task, and if you are like me, managing the whole scene single-handedly, it’s an almost impossible one. The kids need to be fed, bathed and tended to. Life has to go on and cannot stop because I wasn’t feeling well. Moms don’t get sick days or offs, do they?
But in illness there are lessons to be learnt, and my nine years as a parent has taught me these
- Throw in that emotion; seek help and no guilt about it
Of course this sounds like a no-brainer, yet trust me most of us restrain ourselves from asking for help. I called and threw open an invitation to my mom/mom-in-law to be around. I used emotional tactics to get the husband home, to abandon his duty calls and be by my side. I didn’t feel guilty about it, because every bit of energy saved is going to help me get back with vigor, to normal existence. Though there have been times earlier when my emotional tactics have worked and the family has been around me, this time around, none of them were able to be by my side. So I just had to double up the pay of my domestic help, to be around the kids. Of course I heard the pans and dishes clanging in the kitchen but I had made that conscious decision to let go, and have someone to step in and do the job. I let the domestic help be in charge – not something that comes easy for me.
- Let it pile on
The phone calls could wait, the laundry could too. It wasn’t my time to be the super-woman I otherwise am. With a viral infection weighing down my body and antibiotics stuck in my throat, the housecleaning and odd chores around were pushed aside. Yes, it was tough to ignore the pile in the corner of every room. But then, I had to tell myself that the more I rested the quicker I would be back on my toes. So here’s what I did. I picked up three classics and re read them. Nothing like books to make you forget the sores and woes.
- I let the kids know I was unwell
I didn’t want to be a super woman in front of them, not at the time I was unwell. It seemed just right to let the kids see that I was vulnerable and most importantly human too and not a robot. The result was quite a wonder. I was surprised to see the tenderness and empathy they exhibited, as I coughed up through the day. It actually felt nice to capitalize on the moment, as my nine year old fluttered around me. I loved the role reversal for a change.
- I threw that perfect parent hat away
The television time increased (Ah! haven’t I always said television is the best baby sitter?). I didn’t sit with them to read a book, I didn’t hover over them as they completed their school work, nor did I bother about the food getting cold as they ate their meals slowly. My priority remained to rest and to get well.
Back to routine and the shock from the kids
As the week passed by, and I regained my energy back, I felt like a newer version of the person I was. Much as the viral had bogged me down, the break from my usual routine felt good. I had read three classics back to back and felt energized in a unique sort of way. With an increased enthusiasm, I got the routine back; the home was spic and span yet again and the meals were served in the most appropriate way. I was pleased with myself, hoping the kids must be glad too.
But the shock came soon, when the little one blurted out that life was more fun when mom was unwell. It was a jolt from the blue, but gulping it down, I tried to rationalize what she actually meant. I realized all that the kids wanted was to break away from the usual routine too, just the way I loved the break from my routine.
Hmmm maybe I need to feign illness often? What do you think?
*Featured Image: Pixabay