|Close-up of Pneumonia. Isn't it pretty?|
If I had logged all of the hours I’ve cared for Claire and was compensated with sick days, I surely would be kicking back with a few reruns of LA Law right about now. But everyone knows that motherhood doesn’t stop when you do.
Instead of long stretches of horizontal recovery, life has gone on as usual -- with added challenges, such as: how to pick up a 20 plus pound baby without fainting, how to convince a toddler that dirty Kleenex is not a delicacy, how to read Goodnight Moon for the fifth time in a row without punctuating every two words with a cough. Then, there’s dealing with a generalized lack of resources when Claire: cries, screams loud enough to rattle my aching brain, or reaches for the outlet for the thousandth time.
However, much of being sick with a child came as no surprise to me. What was a surprise to me were the many upsides of balancing care of a one year old with care of oneself. I found Claire to be helpful in many ways:
1) She doesn’t care that I am beginning to smell, because I haven’t showered in three days.
2) Or that she is beginning to resemble an orphan with long, dirty fingernails and ratty, tangled hair, now that her bath time routine has been reduced by 50% or so.
3) She’s fine with staying in her pajamas all day or roaming around solely in a diaper.
4) Likewise with her mother’s daily attire and toilette, or lack there of.
5) She is happy to eat the same frozen vegetable for five meals in a row.
6) She doesn’t know that I skip most of the words in Goodnight Moon anyway to save a few tubercular breaths.
7) She’s oblivious to time, so she doesn’t realize we haven’t been out of the apartment for three days.
8) She finds all kinds of things to entertain herself around the apartment anyway, since everything inside is still new and fascinating too.
9) She actually enjoys that the apartment is a mess, because there are more things on the floor for her to explore.
10) Most importantly, when she takes a nap twice a day and goes to sleep at 7:30, mama goes nighty-night right alongside her.
But the best part is that Claire clearly still loves me, even though I’m not doing my best job caring for her. I can’t say that of any of the many other bosses I’ve had in my life (yes, Claire is my new boss). The next best thing is that dads like George can be great at picking up the slack.
Of course, not contracting pneumonia in the first place would be most advisable. But for the inevitable times when I am sick, I’ve decided that I’ll take my family over paid sick days any day.
Photo Source: Yale Rosen, Flickr