Chicken Soup for the Aspetic Soul
By Elizabeth Thompson
My husband’s eyes were fixed on the television as he continued to iron his dress shirt while waiting for my answer.
He didn’t get one.
I was sitting on the end of our bed -- the center of a mass confusion of blankets, sleeping cats and unfolded laundry -- and noticeably struggling with a pair of socks. My breath was labored. My head was pounding. My throat was on fire, but I managed to say in croaking frog:
Do mommies get sick days?
I’ve had similar discussions with other stay-at-home moms -- oh, and if I am to have a label, I do prefer the title of Career Mother or Domestic Specialist -- discussing the concept of “sick days” and the stay-at-home -- I mean, C.M. or D.S. -- do we even have them?
The kids go to school, they become ill, and they go home. My husband goes to work, he becomes ill, and he goes home. I work at home, I’m sick, and I’m home already…no?
In other words, my husband has to share his sick days, along with pretty much every aspect of his life, with me.
This is the part where I struggle with the guilt, which -- as with pretty much every aspect of my life -- comes into consideration, along with one very important question.
How sick am I?
The criteria would include the following:
a) Requiring a Hospital visit sick. Yes (or) No
b) Requiring fluid evacuation sick. Yes (or) No
c) Requiring fever medicine sick. Yes (or) No
d) Requiring pain medicine sick. Yes (or) No
If yes, indicate level of pain... 1-3 ___ 4-6 ___ 7-10 ___
If I had characteristically followed the above in comparison, short of hospitalization, my situation would have proved not “requiring a sick day” sick enough.
So, I continued dressing.
My two youngest children entered my bedroom, running, and both took turns jumping onto the bed and my son – landing right onto the huge pile of clean laundry – with his bare backside opposite me, announced:
His baby sister, my youngest, then dives head first and screeched with sheer delight.
My two oldest daughters entered my room, arguing, about the time my ears had begun to ring and I stared blankly at my feet – one of which was still bare – as my head turned fuzzy, my throat began to burn and I felt as if the only thing I wanted to do was lie down, close my eyes and pass into oblivion.
I didn’t realize that I was thinking out loud, until my husband put down the iron and chased all four kids out of our room.
I don’t remember much after that besides my head hitting the pillow.
I felt a hand on my forehead, opened my eyes, squinted and was able to focus somewhat on my husband's clean-shaven face. I believed he was telling me to drink some tea, nodded my head and felt totally frustrated with myself.
There was so much to do.
The Christmas tree was still up. The washer and dryer had loads waiting to be switched. I still haven’t folded last week’s laundry. The hampers are already overflowing. My desk and house is a shambles and the bread-winning half of my spousal unit was now probably going to pay for it, because he had to use up an entire sick day.
No, really -- a real and tangible symptom, which just had to work in my favor -- now, if I could only produce a nice phlegm-filled cough…
Wait; what is that smell?
I pulled the blankets with me and attempted to sit up, but I just drop back into my pillow and inhaled, deeply.
The bedroom door opened slowly, as my husband peeked first and then walked in.
Okay…so, I wasn’t harboring some radically migrating germ and really didn’t have anything seriously wrong with me, physically, which required nothing more than a little bed rest and perhaps a few hours of quiet.
Being a parent is tough enough – but, does it really have to get so complicated – especially when moms (and dads) can’t afford to take the day off, without written permission, prior approval or a doctor’s note, first!?!
You won’t get an argument out of me.
But, man…I’ll tell you what -- it’s difficult to deny it, when even my husband believes -- I did need a sick day and some chicken soup!
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