Mastitis is as awful as I’ve heard, although I had preferred not to personally corroborate this. It’s everything I’ve heard, and then worse because it’s my breast, and fever, and family it’s affecting.
When mom gets sick, the whole family suffers. (When dad gets sick, this is true, too.)
I don’t mean to dismiss my husband’s multiple colds this season, gifted generously by our preschool daughter’s hugs, kisses and cuddles. I don’t mean to make him feel like I don’t care when he feels badly, because I do.
This getting-sick pattern is especially precise in our household: first the daughter brings it home from a playmate, and then my husband and baby get it (this order switches), and then I either fight it off, or fall last. (I often make it through if they are all sick at once, but when the baby gets it separately, and I’m around an illness for weeks, I generally don’t stand much of a chance.)
And when mom gets sick, there are—if you followed this pattern above—perhaps a few sniffles and a little fatigue still lingering around the house, but, more often, I’m a sickie in a house of well people by then.
And there are still appointments, and school bus departures and arrivals. There are still lunch times, and snack times, and books that desperately need to be read. There are still active little girls. (My husband recently remarked, with clear sarcasm, how he wished he’d had boys so that he would be surrounded by intense activity.)
And mom gets sick, and everyone cares—I know they do—but the world doesn’t stop for it.
My husband took a day off yesterday (one that I know he didn’t have to spare) because I was so unwell, there wasn’t a lot of choice. Mastitis had me totally down for the day (and then some).
He made delicious food, went to the grocery store, took me to the doctor, changed diapers, read books, and cuddled and was his typical-wonderful-daddy self while I did nothing except try to get better. I loved having him home, but I did wish it could have been for a more romantic reason.
Currently, the baby is napping, and my parents are here helping. (I can hear them in the adjoining room looking at pictures with my oldest daughter as I write.)
Life is funny. Sometimes, I feel so lonely being a stay-at-home mom without my family nearby—and then I get sick.
And my husband is there, always.
And my parents drive in.
And my sister texts me asking if I need her.
And my best friend texts to see if she can do anything.
And I realize that I don’t need an army of people to love me—I just need these few people so, so much.
I’m in a spot in my life, like many other parents I know, where I am the farthest thing from the social queen—I spend my days with two tiny people, and my evenings with them and their dad—and my life is exactly the way I want it, even if it does still feel reclusive.
And when mom gets sick, her general tiredness turns to exhaustion, her slight grumpiness turns bear-like—and her awe at these kind displays of the people who love her most skyrockets. Mothers take in the simplest gestures of love with great appreciation because every day we show our love in small ways, too.
We show our love by making food for small hands, hoping at least half of it makes it into mouths rather than winding up on the floor. We kiss foreheads that were the perfect height to collide with the dining table. We teach our children to say “thank you” and “please,” in an attempt to create individuals who will go out into the world with kindness and grace.
We are chauffeur, nurse, lunch monitor, playmate, dictator, and snuggler, and we do it all because we want to—because we love our children.
So when mom gets sick, make her soup. When mom gets sick, hand her glasses of water as she sits on the couch. When mom gets sick, let her choose what to binge watch on Netflix. When mom gets sick, be reminded of all that she does when she is well.