I was thinking today about how being sick always seems to bring about a certain level of self-reflection. I was pondering this, of course, while lying in bed with my remote, a People magazine, and dry shampoo for the foreseeable future. Today, while trying to control my shakes in the waiting room, I realized that sometime within the past 36 hours, I had most definitely crossed the threshold between "man, my allergies are killing me," to "no really, just KILL ME." And yet, even as I schlepped out of the office with a script for Tamiflu, I still refused to give myself the mental space to be sick.
It's play week. Ella has four performances in the next two days.
Eve needs to be picked up from the groomers by 5.
I need to finish editing the session from last week. Then there's that write up that needs tweaking.
I haven't responded to emails.
Why can't I allow myself be sick? What's so hard about it? I mean, I used to fake fevers and phantom illnesses when I was a kid. (And let me tell you, my fake sick-schtick was on point). But apparently, motherhood has the capacity to turn convalescence into a scarce commodity. True, we can't just go back to bed every time we feel a bit under the weather. But we also don't make it easy for ourselves to leap from a narrative of "doing all the things" to "doing nothing," even when- especially when- nothing is exactly what we need in that moment.
Being present isn't something we get to pick and choose. But we do. I do. It's easier for me to talk about wanting to be more present with my kids because it's something that we read articles about and it comes up frequently in conversations with fellow parents (don't get me wrong, it's absolutely a conversation and struggle worth having). But I'm gonna be honest: I don't want to be present with my flu. I'd rather pretend like it's not here. I don't want to be sidelined, and I don't want to relinquish whatever illusion of control I have of my day-to-day life. But it's becoming increasingly clear that this virus doesn't really care about my itinerary. (Flu strains are like that, apparently. LAME). But you know what? Things get done. Kids get picked up. Food will be eaten. (It might be Poptarts for dinner, but just roll with it). Laundry will get washed....eventually. The main things will be taken care of; they always are. This is what any sickness has taught me: I don't actually have to do all. the. things. And when I can't- when I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with any excuse not to go right to bed and do nothing- I have half a dozen texts from people who are willing to step in and help.
So the flu is apparently where things get real. And gross. Okay, both. But when I can take a step back from the lucid dreams and night sweats, I realize it's also a beautiful reminder of grace. Maybe if my husband and kids and amazing mom-tribe can give me permission to be present with myself- dry shampoo and all- I can, too.