Yesterday I was sick. Sicker than I’ve been in a long time.
To be honest, I’m not positive I was sick. I think it might have been exhaustion.
Whatever it was, my body felt like it was shutting down.
My legs and my back hurt so badly that I couldn’t stand up.
I was so nauseous that every time I tried to get upright, I started sweating profusely and was sure I was going to puke.
I couldn’t eat. I could hardly drink anything.
And for twenty-two consecutive hours, I stayed in bed.
I hadn’t planned for this. As it is, surviving a day here when I’m on my A-game takes quite a bit of planning.
But there was no planning here. I woke up and as soon as I managed to get the last kid out the door, I was down for the count.
I had a to-do list a mile long. I had three swim practices to coach, I had multiple basketball practices to get the kids to, I had meals to prep and laundry to get done and emails that needed to be sent and a whole bunch of other stuff I had to do.
People were counting on me.
I think it can be easy when you are doing the stay-at-home mom thing to feel like things can’t go on without you.
Because when that’s your job, it’s nice to feel like you matter. A lot.
And let’s be honest. It’s nice to feel wanted. Needed.
I think I spent about the first seven years of being a mom feeling that way.
I was a stay at home mom, and I needed to be needed.
That’s a lot of fucking pressure.
Especially when you are sick.
It’s also a little (or a lot) codependent and unhealthy.
There is only so long a person can be at work 24/7/365.
I mean, even the president takes vacations.
About two years ago when I had a slight nervous breakdown I realized I needed to give up some control. I needed to ask for help.
And accept it.
I needed to stop feeling the need to carry the weight of the world, or my children, on my shoulders.
I needed to start giving the kids way more responsibility.
So they started packing their own lunches and filling their own water bottles and folding their own clothes and picking out their own outfits.
And you know what happened yesterday when I went off the parenting grid for twenty-four hours?
In fact, the world continued to spin. And all the kids made it to school. Appropriately dressed. And fed.
I was sure when I dragged my ass out of bed this morning that I’d have to pack up lunches because I hadn’t been conscious the night before to remind everyone.
But instead, Number 3 got himself breakfast and then came into my room while I was attempting to wash the sick off of me from the night before and said, Bye Mom! I love you! I hope you feel better today!
And he was even wearing a hat.
I shuffled out to the kitchen and told Number 5 and 6 (who are 6 and 5 years old) to get their lunch boxes so we could pack them up and they looked at me and said in unison,
We already did it!
I was shocked.
No, things didn’t run completely smoothly while I was down for the count.
Number 5 spent most of the afternoon crying. Number 6 had about fourteen massive MY-LEGO-THING-BWOKE-AND-NOBODY-CAN-FIX-IT! meltdowns. And I did forget to have someone pick Number 4 up from swim practice.
But since I’ve become so good at asking for help and Number 3 and 4 have been driven to and from baseball and basketball and swim and band and chorus practices by a whole bunch of different people, Number 4 just asked a friend of mine for a ride.
She didn’t freak out or panic. She just got herself safely home.
So if you are where I was a few years ago, needing to be needed, and feeling like if you take a day or a night or an hour or a second off that your family won’t survive, or even worse, that they won’t need you. You’re wrong.
They will still need you.
I know, because last night Number 3 came to say goodnight to me and said one of the sweetest things any of the kids has ever said to me…
Mom, when you’re not around, everything goes wrong.
They will always need you.
But it sure does feel nice when you know you’ve taught them and prepared them enough so that they can take care of themselves.
And that way, when those situations arise, you can do the same thing for yourself.