MAMA DOWN! A Mom's Guide to Being Sick & Tired

‘Tis the season…sure, it’s all holly jolly and happy happy, but it’s also the season of runny noses, sneezes into the cookie tray, and hugs, handshakes and mistletoe – ripe for the germ-spreading. Not to mention the episodes of the Magic School Bus that we send our kids into every day in the form of classrooms, daycare, and dance class. (And no, this is not a PSA for quarantining your family, because I’m a firm believer that dirt and germs help a tiny immune system grow big and strong.)

But what about mama? Sure, when the kids are sick, it’s all hands on deck, feeding them whatever they’ll actually eat just so they maintain some caloric intake, extra cuddles, Tylenol on an IV drip, but mama…when we’re sick, it’s a full shut-down situation. Or we wish it could be. Instead, we’re stuck on death’s doorstep doing the best we can to keep it all together, but piling on the guilt for letting our normal awesomeness slip.

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Lisa just brought this very struggle to the I Am Mother of the Year Facebook group for a little support. And boy did she get it!

I'm home sick as can be, and daycare calls that my 18 month old son is running a fever and needs to be picked up. I drag myself off the couch, pick him up, and now feel terrible because I brought him home, cuddled him, turned on the cartoons, and fed him whatever he'd eat (fruit snacks and white bread with jelly). I feel like a terrible mom!!!

Thankfully, no one was going to let her feel guilty for too long. All the mamas jumped in to say:

Cassie: It's called survival. You do what you gotta do!

Michelle: You're doing what he needs right now. Don't fault yourself for it. Sick kids need to rest, but just lying around is boring. Cuddle him all you want. Cartoons are a good distraction too. My mom gave me ice cream and jello when I was sick. Sounds like you're doing a great job.

Carla: You’re a great mom! When you’re sick, it’s an absolute struggle! Then add caring for another human?! You’re super mom!

Aubree: I know the feeling! My husband and I were so sick a month ago. I was still nursing a 10 month old and we have a 2 year old as well. I felt so guilty for how little attention they got and how much TV they watched, but they survived and we survived and it was only a day or two.

Ahhhh, the feeling of empathy and support. You can’t beat it! In fact, Lisa jumped back into the conversation to thank all of the mamas for their wonderful responses. And even though her sickness wasn’t healed on the spot, the kindness made her grateful, and hopefully a little more guilt-free.

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So what do you do when you’re feeling sick AND guilty?

  • Unsubscribe from Mom Guilt: Seriously, call that guilt out for what it really is – a lie. A lie that will keep you trapped in a downward spiral, which is the last thing you need when your body is using all of its power to heal itself.

  • Realize It’s Only Temporary: You’re not creating new habits and dependencies in your kids when you allow screen time 24/7 in survival mode. Their diets won’t be completely wrecked when they eat frozen pizza and sugar cereal from the box. And the lack of attention they receive from you will go largely unnoticed because they think you’re the best mom ever, no matter what.

  • Ask for Help: If you’ve got somebody, lean into them! Don’t be afraid to tell your spouse, your neighbor, or your mom exactly what you need to recover. In fact, once I was barfing my brains out (delicate choice of words, I know), my husband left town for the day (with my permission, of course) and my sweet friend brought me all the saltines and 7-Up a girl could want. And when she asked if there was anything else she could do for me, I was glad I blurted out, “Take my kids!” And she did and I went back to a restless, but much-needed sleep.

I know all of that is easier said than done, especially for you wonderful perfectionist mamas out there. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, and I mean it more each time I say it – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Or a sick cup.

So load up on that vitamin C, hand sanitizer, and grace grace grace! You’re a rock star mama, whether you’re counting those victories all day or down for the count for a week. You’re loved, friend!

Lisa GraftComment