By Heather Sadlemire
I sometimes look back at my life before my daughter and choose to pretend I’m watching a slow-paced, sepia-colored movie montage scene, set to some meaningful melody. You know, by Fleetwood Mac. Or Taylor Swift. There are embarrassing teenage indiscretions. Hard lessons learned after even harder nights in my early twenties. And then, ah, yes, there they are. The parts I’m hate-watching today, as I’m sitting at a desk, hacking up a lung. They are “sick-days” of the past. I woke up with a sore throat? Oh no! Better snuggle back into bed with a hot cup of coffee and a good book. Certainly no work for me today! A headache? Possible – gasp – sinus infection, even? No! Down to the couch for a day of Netflix. The laundry will wait and pajamas will stay on. Nobody will be seeing that girl today!
Ugh. I HATE that character. Mostly because I’m so jealous of her luxurious, resting-while-she’s-sick life. You know what happens when I’m sick now, as a married mom-of-a-three-year-old? I usually still have to leave the house, on account of needing money to pay for boring stuff like day care and mortgages and all the things inside Target. And then I inevitably get hit with one of these five things:
1. “You look very pale. You don’t look good today AT ALL.”
Oh, honey, that’s just so, so sweet of you. First, please, let me start by thanking you for your unsolicited comments on my appearance today, because, as always, dear co-worker, I hold your opinion in the highest of esteem, above all others. I’m sorry that my translucent skin has caused an interruption in your day because we are now talking about it. I would like to start this conversation by reminding you that A) It is January and we are in Upstate NY where we both live. B) Unfortunately, I have fallen ill. C) I know I look like shit. Sorry I didn’t have the time nor the energy to slather on my usual make-up in order to make myself more aesthetically appealing, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles, cupcake.
2. “Did you take any medicine? You should take some medicine.”
Wow! What a novel idea! I have never thought to take any medicine. Actually, I’m pretty unclear on what medicine is. Any chance you could possibly explain “medicine” to me?
3. The flipside of #2 (usually from daycare/child activity/park mom): “Have you tried [insert naturopathic bullshit here]? It works wonders. I haven’t bought from big pharma in years. My kids have never had a drop of Tylenol. I never had to sleep train. Because of my essential oils [and the previously mentioned naturopathic bullshit I’ve already spewed on about], my children have been sleeping through the night since right out of the womb. In the womb, even. Of course, unless they were up nursing. We don’t allow any toxins in our home. That’s why we’re never sick. Does your daughter get sick a lot? I seem to remember you saying that she had an ear infection a few weeks ago. Strep before then. But anyway, here’s [the naturopathic BS]. I ALWAYS keep some in my purse.”
Listen. If that works for you, fantastic. But I ain’t about that life. If it’s been known to help elephants sleep, gimme it. If it kills a cold fast, for 7 out of 10 people within 24 hours, but it literally killed the other 3 people in 24 hours, eh, I’ll take my chances because Mama’s got stuff to do.
4. “Unfortunately, you’re running low on sick time.”
Right. Because of my kid’s previously mentioned ear infection. And strep. On account of the toxic waste festooning within my child’s bedroom walls. Noted.
5. “You should get some rest.”
This is a request that often comes from a good place and is usually uttered out of my husband’s mouth. For me, it’s impossible. It’s not because I try to martyr myself. It’s because of the mom guilt. Even with pneumonia, I found it incredibly hard to just lay in bed, healing and whatever. The floor needed to be vacuumed. The dishwasher needed to be emptied. And I was just laying there? I had to take my elephant sleeping pills just to keep myself from doing housework.
I wish someone made a medicine for the mom guilt. Now that’s a toxin I’d happily chuck down my throat. (Wait, that’s what the wine is for, right? I’m still pretty new at this.)
About the Author
Heather is a marketing director and NY native (of the Upstate variety) who has to cover the last few pages of a good book with her hands so that she doesn’t skim ahead and ruin the ending. In between scouring the clearance racks at Target and stalking Anna Kendrick’s Twitter feed, she performs Disney numbers for her daughter (a preschooler who doesn’t object) and husband (who knew what he was getting into when he put a ring on it.) She has been featured on Scary Mommy and Sammiches and Psych Meds. Follow her on Twitter.