You’re a Mother who is starting to feel unwell in the evening. If only you could have a sleep in tomorrow morning by either snoozing through that alarm or completely switching it off for good. You know for sure that you are either going to feel the same or so much worse the next day. How lovely it would be to get some extra Z’s and try to fight off this illness?
How about calling in sick for work the next day! Oh hang on who you gonna call? Ghost Busters? They ain’t gonna help you.
Your head hits the pillow after dosing up on medicine and drinking a big glass of water. You grabbed the communal box of tissues for that emergency blowing of the nose during the night as this will save you from having to get up during the night to make the long walk to the kitchen, or the other option of using toilet paper. No Thanks!
So you allow your body to relax, you close your eyes and start to drift off to sleep. However no more than 5 minutes later, you are woken by a little person coughing and heading towards your room. “cough, cough, cough, niggle, niggle, cough, cough”. And even though you feel as rotten as they do, you drag yourself out of bed and tend to your child, comforting them, medicating them, taking care of whatever their needs may be.
You fall back into bed once they are settled. Perhaps you now have an extra little person in your bed and hope somehow both of you will fall asleep. Finally getting off to sleep and not certain of how many hours sleep you will actually get, you suddenly wake without fail either an hour, half an hour or 10 minutes before your alarm is due to sound.
It is most likely that you are woken to the sound of another little person sobbing, just enough to let you know its time to get up. You tell yourself 10 reasons why it is ok to just stay in bed and ignore their pleas, you consider just letting the kids stay home from school but then come to your senses. You figure it will be quieter when the older children are at school. Maybe the opportunity to chill out on the couch will come after fixing breakfast or coming home from school drop off. So you drag yourself out of bed sneezing and coughing with head all stuffy and get to work feeding the troops.
If only you could just go back to bed and sleep in utter peace and quiet. There is no such thing as a snooze button or a day off; when you become a mother you must keep going no matter what!
Even for a mother who works full time, I am sure if she took a day of sick leave she would still have to tend to her children by getting them dressed and ready for day care, school or whatever the day had in store for them. The only answer is to dose up on medication, tie that tissue box around your neck and take a rest on the couch when you can.
There are still lunches and snacks to prepare, nappies to change, kids to chase after, drinks of water to fetch and a dinner to think of. Yes you still have to feed the family who seems to be constantly hungry. Possibly you could throw them a loaf of bread and hope for the best! Nothing stops for a mother just because you are sick!
On the other hand, when “dad” gets ill, he does get to lie in bed; this is often called “man flu”; and of course they are on their death bed when they have this “man flu”. When a man gets ill, they let you know too! Moaning and groaning as everything aches, they have to stay on the couch, can’t move or do anything for themselves except pick up the phone and call in sick for the day. Mothers on the other hand need to soldier on regardless. Just pop some vitamins and hope it will boost your energy enough to get through the day.
If your lucky enough you may have some older children who can help you out with the younger ones. or who can help you with the dinner preparations, setting or unsetting the table, maybe even packing the dishwasher etc. But most likely you are left with having to do it all.
Then the thought crosses your mind what if you just went to bed? You start to picture yourself creeping to your bedroom and quietly slipping into bed and covering your whole self with that nice warm doonah so no one can find you. But it’s just like trying to go to the toilet on your own. The minute you are gone someone will come looking for you. “Mum, mum, where are you mum?” You try to stay quiet in the hope that no one will find you but they always do, its like they just know. So you ignore that thought and hope to get through the evening ritual of teeth brushing, toileting and tucking them into bed.
Finally you can crawl into bed with hope that you will feel better the next day.
Maybe one day there will be someone who will take care of a mother when she is ill. Or maybe us mothers need to start calling out for help? Perhaps there is a friend, relative or grandparent just waiting to be asked for help? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Or maybe you also have to tend to your own family no matter how unwell you feel, because you have no one to call on.
Maybe one day someone will decide it is time for mothers to have sick leave and help us out too.