I often boast that I never get sick. I think my proximity to little kids who slobber on their containers before asking me to open them, who often have boogers/saliva on their hands when they touch mine, and who cough with abandon have made my immune system stronger than many. When a stomach flu goes through the house, I never get it. I tend to the patients, change pyjamas, and only feel nauseous when there's cold barf on my leg or foot.
Some women fantasize about a tropical vacation. Not me. I dream of getting sick...nothing too serious, but enough to demand that I spend a few days in bed while someone else tends to my children. My only stipulations are that I can knit/write/read until I feel better.
At the same time, I don't like being dependent on others. While I'm perfectly happy to take care of my family, I'm uncomfortable with being a burden on my husband, and insist that I'm FINE when really, I'm not (e.g. when menstrual cramps get the better of me).
I have a hectic life. From the minute I wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m., I'm a go. I consider it a triumph if I make it to 8:30 without raising my voice, because those are the hours I spend getting everyone fed, dressed, and organised to make it out the door. Three sets of clothes, three heads combed, three pairs of shoes/mitts. Work, pick up Margot, drive home, make dinner, do homework, have baths, read stories, settle kids into bed. Make lunches, do laundry, make a list for tomorrow's tasks...fall into bed, and have it begin again tomorrow.
I'm Everymother, at least every mother that has to work outside the home.
Sometimes, though, my body digs its heels in, after months of whispering at me to slow down. My body begins to shout. I had some slight pain in my left hip flexor a few days ago; this is an ailment I've experienced off and on since going through pregnancy three times in four years. It is inconvenient, causing me to trip up the stairs because I haven't lifted my foot high enough. But I generally push my way through it, because I have to.
Yesterday I stripped wallpaper, scrubbed the floor and walls, and took down coathooks in one corner of my kitchen. I sorted and tidied. I was on my feet all day, ignoring the voice of my body, that was getting louder and louder with each step.
Then, after tossing and turning and trying to find some comfortable position, my body roared and woke me up at 2 a.m. I was in tears with pain. I got my husband up to get some painkillers and ice for me. I had a hot bath at 3 a.m. I finally passed out, then was up at 6:30 to start the day again.
I've been staggering around like Igor all day, dragging the offending leg behind me. I am unable to lift my knee without nauseating pain. I barely made it through a half-day at school, then had a visit with the chiropractor who informed me that my pelvis is all messed up, my legs different lengths, my left side compensating for weakness on the right side.
I got my wish. I have to rest and stay in bed. I'm in considerable pain, however, which makes the idea of blissful napping and lounging a bit of a joke.
I don't like to slow down. I don't like to be taken care of. I don't like to be dependent.
But, this evening, I passed the evening routine of bath/stories/bed to my husband, then asked him to put some socks on my feet because the ice pack on my ass was chilling what should have been the warm nest of my bed.
It was humbling. But my body is forcing me to slow down, to stop and rest. I'm compelled to say "Yes" to this demand.