Once, when I was about fifteen, I got very sick. I had been feeling poorly for a few days before I finally told my mother that I probably needed to go to the doctor. It was there that we received the diagnosis of a sinus infection coupled with bronchitis. I was given a prescription and strict instructions to go home and take it easy. And take it easy I did. My mother spent her days making sure that I had plenty of OJ and watermelon (don’t ask me why, but I always want watermelon when I’m sick). She ran out and bought me the good tissues, the ones that were two-ply and had lotion on them. The absolute best part was that she made, from scratch, my favorite soup and served it to me in bed and with a side of saltines.
I got worse before I got better, but I did get better. And I got better in the lap of luxury because she let me stay in her bed since my room was always drafty, and because that’s the kind of stuff mom’s do for their sick kids.
That was about twenty (Jesus Christ, twenty?!) years ago. Oh, the good old days, when being sick meant a vacation from your life and a mom sized butler.
Now, I find myself having to sit down and try and catch my breath because I just stood for fifteen minutes (apparently the absolute maximum effort I can expend). I had to make myself chicken noodle soup because somehow I ended up with strep throat. Strep throat which, by the way, I’ve had for about a week already and didn’t do anything about except suffer in silence, because I thought that what I was experiencing was jaw pain from grinding my teeth during the two to four hours of sleep that my tyrannical toddler allows me each night.
A toddler who, by the way, just does not give a single solitary shit that I’m sick. She is too busy pulling my pants down while trying to get me to give her one of the carrots that I’m cutting up for the soup. Not so that she can eat it, noooooooo, she wants to take a bite out of it and then hide the rest somewhere in the house for me to find later*.
If my mother were here she would be telling me to lay down, take a nap, or at least snuggle up under the covers and rest.
Instead I am with my daughter, and if she so much as sees me look at a couch/chair/anything that could be used to rest, she immediately asks me for something; milk, a cookie, a snuggle (alright, I gladly give into the last one). But no, there is no rest for the weary… or the mother.
Being sick as a child relieves you of all responsibility. You don’t go to school, you don’t go to your afterschool activities, you don’t really even have to do homework if you don’t send someone to pick it up for you (like a nerd). You just lay around and let someone (mom) hand you whatever you need to eat, drink, and make sure the remote and tissues are within your reach. You know what being sick is like when you’re a mom? It’s like every other day except you feel like you actually might die while you’re making everyone’s lunch. And don’t get me wrong, you can ask your husband for help, and if he’s not sick he may actually give you some, but chances are that your kid is going to behave like an asshole and demand mom anyway because that’s what kids do.
When you’re sick as a child your mom usually calls and makes your doctor’s appointment, drives you there while you’re all safely snuggled up in the back seat wrapped in your favorite blanket, and she sits in the waiting room alternating putting the back of her hand on your forehead or cheeks and giving you kisses. In other words, it’s all about you. When you’re a mom, chances are you had to lock yourself in the bathroom to even make the phone call to the doctor (which hurt because you had to yell a little bit to be heard over the sound of your child frantically pounding on the door and screaming, “Mommy!”). You have to get both yourself and your toddler dressed and into the car so that you can drive to the doctor’s office, where you spend the entire time comforting your damn kid who is now convinced that you are there for them and that they are about to get a shot. If your child is anything like mine, you also have to hold them and bounce them throughout your entire exam as they scream at the top of their lungs while you get poked and prodded in all your sore spots. Then, as a bonus, maybe they will scream the whole time you’re in line at the pharmacy window to pick up your prescription because they want crunchies.
And the number one thing the doctor wants you to do (right after drink lots of extra fluids), is now and always has been, to get lots of rest. I’m assuming that he was able to hear my laughter above the sound of the screaming child. Okay, doc, I’ll get right on top of that. What part of this five minute glimpse into my life indicates that I’m going to be going home and taking it easy?
I guess the moral of this story is don’t grow up. Stay young and cared for forever. Also, thank your moms. Because at some point they most likely had to take you to the doctor’s office when they were sick. And like the saying goes, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
I love you mom. Please come take care of me.
*I found the carrot three days later under the crib.