Being ill is rubbish. Clearly. We all want to be able to huddle in a ball, shut out the world and wait for the illness to pass. But pre-children there was a familiar pattern to sick days:
- Stay in bed and sleep off the worst of your symptoms.
- Emerge from your lair around lunchtime, potter in the kitchen making a restorative meal before….
- Curling up on the sofa with a blanket to watch ‘Diagnosis Murder’ and ‘A place in the Sun’.
A day of this and most illnesses were quickly knocked on the head.
However…….when you have small children and you are feeling under the weather, you suddenly realise that your pre-children strategies can no longer be so easily implemented and, as such, recovery is much harder to achieve.
Take stage 1 – the staying in bed element. When your children are tiny, you can pretty much rule out any chance of this happening. Babies need feeding or they scream. Toddlers need watching or they cause mayhem. In either case – ignore them at your peril. Even in the depths of your illness, you know you need to keep one eye open and be prepared to dive (or possibly fall) out of your momentary resting place and answer their calls and demands (and there are many!). I recall one memorable afternoon when my friend and her husband were both struck down by an evil sickness bug unable to care for themselves let alone a lively toddler. Popping round to take their toddler out for a couple of hours to give them some respite, I discovered a pitiful sight. My normally cool, calm and collected friend was dragging herself round the floor of her living room, unable to summon the energy to stand and yet still expected to be fully responsible for a small human being. This…I thought to myself…this is the true reality of parenting!
So do things get easier when your children get bigger? Well in some ways, yes…you can ignore then a lot more and they can make their own breakfast (albeit badly), but that only really works if it is the weekend. In the week, there is school and – irritatingly – they have to go even if you are too ill to get them there.
Generally this involves dragging yourself out of bed feeling like death (without the ‘warmed up’ element to give you a fighting chance!) and battling through a blurry fog of dysfunction to get your charges ready for school.
Now, even though your now more grown up children may have the ability to empathise with your illness in a way that toddlers cannot manage, and they may even give you some sympathy in their kinder moments, when getting ready for school all bets are off and they revert to normal rules and display the usual supremely frustrating behaviours (refusing to get up; ignoring repeated requests to clean their teeth; screeching like a banshee when you try to brush their hair – that kind of thing) only NOW you are physically incapable of responding to the mayhem and find yourself in a crumpled heap by the front door 5 minutes AFTER you should have left the house crying weakly up the stairs…’Please girls…we really need to get going…can you just help me out here…I….AM….ILL!’
And that, my friends, is part of the joy of parenting…illness in any form WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!