No Rest for the Weary

The Next Family

By: Shannon Ralph

I woke up this morning, reluctantly opened one eye, and immediately though, Oh, shit. My throat was scratchy and swallowing was painful. I could only breathe through one nostril. The other one was completely plugged shut. I felt like there had to be no fewer than three gallons of snot swishing around in my head. How can a human head possibly hold that much fluid? The glands in my neck were swollen and tender. Suddenly, I coughed. Ouch. Searing pain. There was no denying it. The worst possible situation had come to fruition. I had somehow managed to catch a cold.

For a working mom—and show me a mom who isn’t a working mom—getting sick is one of the worst things that can possibly happen to her within the course of her day-to-day life. Personally, I would rather have all three of my children simultaneously sick—walking around throwing up their guts with their limbs falling off—than get sick myself. The problem is that a mom is not allowed to be sick. If I could shut the blinds, lock the door, and hibernate in my bedroom until I felt better, all would be well. I would come out happy and refreshed. A perfect Pollyanna of a mother. But no, a mom is not permitted to be sick. A mom is not allowed to take a nap. A mom cannot cuddle up with a blankie and watch trash television until she feels better. I am sure a cup of chicken soup and a little Wendy Williams Show would make everything better. Alas, it is not to be. A mom must plow through. A mom must get out of bed, get dressed, and start her day. A mom must feed the wailing cat and walk the whining dog. A mom must pack her son’s school lunch. A mom must feed and dress her children, even though every single fiber of her being is screaming, Let the little urchins run around naked!! They can eat cat food for all I care!! Yes, a sick mother’s mind goes to dark, sinister places.

At least it is simply a cold this time around, rather than a stomach bug. A stomach bug is the absolute worst-case scenario. You would think throwing up would elicit a tiny fraction of sympathy from my children. But, no. They are as cold-hearted as the day is long. The last time I had a stomach bug, I found myself sprawled out on the bathroom floor with my head in the toilet paying homage to the porcelain gods, when I suddenly felt Lucas’s presence behind me.

“Momma?” he whispered. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, honey. Momma is okay. I am just a little sick.” Though I was certain at that moment that I was surely going to die a grisly death that very night, I was afraid seeing me in such a predicament had scared Lucas. So I tried to waylay his fears.

“Momma is going to be alright, honey. You go on back to your Mario Kart. Momma will be in there in just a few minutes.”

“Okay.” He started to walk away, then turned. “Can…?”

I expected to hear “Can I get you anything, Mom?” or “Can I do anything to help you, Mom?” or “Can I pick up all of my toys and put them away so you don’t have to worry about it, Mom?” But, no. That is not what Lucas had in mind. Instead, as my stomach churned and my head sunk a little lower in the toilet bowl,  I heard,

“Momma…can you get me a glass of juice?”

Nice. There is no rest for the weary.

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[Photo Credit: sean dreilinger]

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