A Legitimate Question, I Think

I’m going to act like a a martyr in this post. I apologize in advance for that. People who act like martyrs have always rubbed me wrong. For one, I was raised in a suck-it-up kind of a family in which you might get some measure of sympathy if, say, there was a lot of blood or a broken something or other. But anything short of those two and you were more than likely on your own. And it was not until I met my husband—who comes from a quite sympathetic family—that I realized anything may have been out of the ordinary in my upbringing. At my husband’s urging (and particularly since we’ve had kids), I’ve tried to be more “compassionate” about complaints that I would have been laughed out of town for when I was little. (Let’s just say there’s a lot of “I’m so sorry your feeeeelings are huuuurt” bandied about in our home and I even manage to not say it sarcastically.)

In the last ten days or so, most of us had that big flu slash respiratory sh*t storm that seems to be going around lately. First my daughter, then my son, then me. We fell, one by one, like dominoes. When my daughter got sick, I was there 24/7. When my son got sick, I was there 24/7. And then when I got sick … well, there I was. My two beloved girlfriends helped me out with rides here and there, but for a couple of days there I had to slog through about eight hours of the most essential chores, including driving (and trust me, I had no business behind the wheel), when all I wanted to do was collapse under the blankets. And given how much school my kids had missed when they had been sick, not going to school and a half-dozen after-school classes was not an option.

And my husband did his best to be helpful but ultimately he had to go to work and even though I wanted to beg him to stay home because I really, truly, could not move, I didn’t. I felt guilty.

I even tried to hire someone but as it turns out that is not so easily done: (a) at the last minute; (b) on a short-term basis; and/or (c) on a budget.

So here comes the martyr part: I want to take a moment and ask a question. I really need to know the answer because maybe I’m missing something here: When anyone in the family’s sick, mama’s looking out for them. But who exactly is looking out for mama?

3 thoughts on “A Legitimate Question, I Think

  1. Simply answered: No one. Seriously, we as mothers have got to be more forceful with regards to getting help when we need it. I feel your pain…


  2. I hear ‘ya, Nazie! Not only is nobody caring for us, but we suck it up better than everyone else in the house, too! That being said, a big part of this is our refusal to take care of ourselves, no? One day last spring, my back went out after a night of being up with the baby, lifting her into and out of her crib, pacing around the room with her, etc. Come the morning, I could not move without a lot of pain. It was a workday, and my husband had to be at work by 7AM. I felt really guilty but nevertheless forced myself to just say it: “you can’t go to work today. I cannot take care of this baby.” And you know what? He called his employer and said “my wife is having health issues; I won’t be in.” And what he told his employer was the truth. I was having health issues, and part of those issues required that we find another childcare provider: him! With a day of heat and painkillers and rest, I was back on the job the next day. But it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t insist that somebody had to take care of me; even if that ‘somebody’ was me!

    Working parents don’t always have the luxury of calling in sick, and so sometimes sick parents have no choice but to slog through as you did. But sometimes, it is a matter of reminding ourselves that we have to be willing to check ourselves out when necessary.


  3. You are both so right. I think I need to work on the “guilt” part. I’m acting like I’m not deserving or something (but surely anyone is, if they’re just not well). I guess what complicated it for me was dynamics at my husband’s work that I didn’t want to contribute to. But if you can’t move, you can’t move! Also, now that I’m well, I’m wondering what the heck I was thinking getting behind the wheel of a car. Lesson learned. No easy fix here, though.


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