I don’t know about you ladies but I think the one thing I miss the most about being childless is having time to be sick.
Let me start by saying that I have never been blessed with a great immune system. Franscois used to say if its going around, I WILL get it. For the most part I cant argue against this fact, I am often sick and when my body goes down it goes all the way down to what I like to refer as immune system hell.
I remember this one particular day, we were living in Roodepoort, Gauteng. Taylor-Reece was around 9 months old, and Savannah about two and a half. I had the most horrendous flu of the season and I could hardly lift my head off the pillow, you know the kind.
I begged Franscois to stay home from work so he could look after the girls and me, Savannah had just started school a month or two earlier for a half day playschool and I just without a doubt did NOT feel I could look after them the way I needed to in order to keep them alive, honestly I had absolutely no hope that they would be ok with me that day. Franscois had important clients to deal with and even though he went into the office a bit later he could not stay with me and the girls that day.
Looking back on the situation, I wonder if it was in preparation for my many further sick days I would entail without him to help me in the near future. I also like to believe if he knew this was one of my last sick days before he died he would have chosen to stay home with me instead of worrying about work, clients and his career, but no matter how much we want to live in the moment as if we would die tomorrow no one can deny that we also have to live like we will not be dying anytime soon, am I right?
So as he left for work on his motorbike, I remember locking my bedroom door with the girls inside, our one dog for protection and to hopefully bark should I need to be pre-warned of any dangers. I mean this was Gauteng we are talking about so there should always be a plan in place for extra security. I strategically scattered toys around the room to wishfully keep the girls occupied and praying that I would have the strength to get up if either of them needed me.
Needless to say I put my head down listening to them playing one second and the next… I open my eyes to them having completely destroyed my bedroom, anything you wouldn’t have thought they would do, THEY DID. Anything you wouldn’t have thought they would get hold of, THEY DID. And anything you thought they didn’t know how to open, THEY DID.
If you can bare with me here, picture the scene, wet wipes scattered all over the floor, baby bum cream smothered all over their tiny arms and legs and their hair, previously a beautiful brown had now transformed into rather grey looking tone from the baby powder that they so flamboyantly thrown all over. My pillows were… everywhere! You could hardly make out an empty space on the floor and the only part of my dog sticking out was her black and brown nose.
Now although I am a very tidy person, I was just so sick that all I could do was look up realise they were still happy and alive and laid my head back down waiting for the clock to edge ever closer to 4/5pm when I would hear the rev of the engine and see Franscois coming up the drive to rescue me from my challenging day and to take care of me like I so badly
needed wanted. That is back when I didn’t think being sick could be any more exhausting as a mom.
Being sick now after Franscois died is an entirely different ball game. It is without a doubt even more exhausting and what I thought was impossible back then is even more hugely challenging now. There is no end to the day, there is no need to clock watch because NO ONE is coming to rescue me, there is just ME, MYSELF and I… plus three. How is that for pressure!! Feeding, comforting, entertaining, it is all on YOU.
Most times one of the children gets sick, they recover, then the next one gets sick, they recover and I am still well and pretty impressed that I am still holding strong at this stage, then the next child gets sick and once they are well its time for me to sink like the Titanic.
Now even though the kids were all just sick they cannot at this age understand how I am feeling even though just days earlier they felt the same way! I just cannot get sick, it does not work that way for us moms, even when you do have a husband I believe it is the same way BUT I can assure you that when there is no hope insight of a break, a nap without worry, someone to bring you tea and medicine then we are talking about an entirely different challenge.
The children still require a bath, they still require food and I don’t know if it is just my kids but when they see that I am sick, instead of offering to help or being extra good they tend to act out instead. Now I do realise that the territory that I am in is very different to many co-parenting households. Instinctively my three children no matter how old they have been in the past know that I am their only caregiver. It is amazing how as in mammals, instincts kick in and they know that if I am injured they cannot survive. The fear in them surges and turns into anxiety and as their mom I have to not only realise this I also then have to put an action plan into place to help them navigate and feel safe in a situation where its ok for me to be sick and remind them as they did I will also get better.
Getting sick is not standard practice for me anymore. It comes with a lot of extra emotional baggage that as an under the weather situation calls for is just so hard to muster up. This is where I believe we must understand that as moms the courage will come, the strength will be dug out from any inch it can be found and we will still read them their bedtime stories, we will still pray with them and somehow we will still find the energy to tuck them in for the night so that they can go to sleep knowing that mom will be better in the morning. After this happens il tell you a secret, I have on many occasions stumbled to my bed hoping I can make it without falling over something, I have even crawled to my bed before knowing that all I had to do now was rest my body, my mind and my heart. Wishing that tomorrow I am as well as my children believe I will be.