When Mama’s Sick

crafts n legos n tv

Okay, so I’ve been really sick lately.   It was bound to happen.

I was lucky enough that when my husband was deployed the first time and our daughter was in her Terrible Twos–with tantrums, teething, and terrors at night, and all sorts of terrific things–to have avoided the plague that crept around other peoples’ houses.  If someone had the sniffles, I avoided them completely, and my efforts paid off:  for that entire year, I was lucky enough to have avoided injury–either from roller derby practice, or the calamities of the common cold.

When your spouse is deployed, being sick is sort of like getting shot in the back as you’re running away from the enemy.  “AUUUUGH, they got me!  Save yourself!” you scream, as you fall dramatically to the ground, like in a scene from a Vietnam War movie.

Okay, well.  That’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea:  when you’re the sole person having to take care of the kid and the dogs and the bills and the house and school and appointments and everything and you’re suddenly out of commission…things can go from bad to worse really fast.

Our kid is an only child, and because she is, my only complaint about her has ever been that she has trouble playing on her own.  It’s not her fault, really–being isolated indoors in the frozen temperatures of Alaska for most of her early childhood, I was her constant companion.  I get it.  So I worried when I was sick, that this would be an issue.  But this kid is CONSTANTLY surprising me.

“Mama is very sick,” I croaked, because my voice would only allow a raspy whisper (another dangerous disability when you’ve got a small kid who usually needs constant vocal supervision).  “Can you help me by playing on your own?”  And to my surprise, she did.  And there was much rejoicing.

And here’s where you have to “let go” a bit, and take care of yourself.  Forget what the house looks like right now.  Forget the mess, forget the dishes.  We dragged out the Legos, and dumped them on the living room floor.  I put a tablecloth on the coffee table, and dumped a bunch of crafts on it.  Things that didn’t need much supervision, like stickers and elmer’s glue and washable paint, kid-scissors, and construction paper.

crafts n legos

painting with your toes

Also, a friend had just cleaned out her craft room and sent us a LOT of craft things, so that kept her busy awhile, too, and required minimal supervision…


I let her drop the Alka-Seltzer Cold tablets into water and watch them fizz, which made her feel very important.  And she had fun giving me a spoonful of honey (especially when she got a little spoon for herself).

And OH!  The TV!  Our daughter will only watch two movies right now (she’s going through a phase where she’s afraid of “bad guys,” and won’t watch anything with bad guys in it.  Um…they ALL have bad guys), so all she’ll watch is the Croods and Frozen.  So we watched them over and over and over.  And I didn’t really mind, because she was busying herself doing crafts, singing the songs, and keeping herself occupied while I lay all day on the couch and rested.

When I was feeling a bit better, I kept her busy with another project:  I printed off some photos (mainly of myself, because hey–I can take a joke) on cardstock and told her she could paint whatever she wanted on them.  Her eyes lit up.

photo 3-2I drew a little with her to sort of give her some ideas, and turned myself into a strangely decorated peacock or something (not at all influenced by my foggy flu delirium, I’m sure).  She turned me into a purple cat.photo 4-2

Didn’t take much energy on my part, and I was still spending time with her.  I only did one, and she got the hang of it herself.

photo 3-3

She asked for more, and entertained herself for a couple of hours, just painting and drawing on the printouts while we watched movies.

photo 1

photo 2-3

photo 4-4

When it’s just me and her, I can’t really lie down and take a nap.  But I found I can let myself rest a little as long as she’s touching me somehow.  So I lie on the couch or in bed, and she sits near my legs and plays Ipad games.  This works for as long as I have physical contact with her–unfortunately, as soon as she’s up, I’m up.  That’s how my mama brain works.  Thankfully, the kid was WONDERFUL this past weekend and I was so very grateful for it.  I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have worked when she was two…

I have some issues with feeling like I need to have a handle on ALL things ALL the time.  But I can’t help it–with military life, I often HAVE to, so I have trouble letting that go when I’m sick.  But I forget sometimes to take care of myself.  For example, it took a call from my husband from Afghanistan to remind me to get a specific medicine, since I often get overwhelmed and forget it.

But being sick, it’s OKAY to let things go that don’t matter:  that laundry can wait.  No one cares what your dishes look like.  So your kid’s been in her pajamas all day?  I’m sure she doesn’t mind.  So we spent the whole weekend with the TV on?  We’ll live.  There are worse things out there than Sprout TV.  Are you feeling guilty for not spending quality time with your kid?  I’m pretty sure, with all the things in our life that we do, this one weekend of laying around the house will not affect her in a negative way.  Even Supermom needs some rest.

I tell myself all this stuff because when I’m in the moment, I have trouble believing it.  But it really is OKAY.  Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do just to get by.  As long as you’re not neglecting anyone’s basic needs, the rest can wait til you feel better.

Anyway, that’s what happens in our house when Mama’s sick and it’s just us.  What do you do?  Do you have any special magic tricks for feeling better and keeping the kids entertained?

22 responses

  1. These are wonderful thoughts about letting go. When I am having a hard time taking care of myself, I try to remember that I teach my girl most by example. So, if I want her to take care of herself when she has kids, I’d better do that myself!
    (Sorry if this showed up twice, not sure what was happening posting this comment…)

    1. Definitely a good point! So hard to remember, but a really good one. Thanks!

  2. You said that you hadn’t spent quality time with her, but you had! You spent time with her and she wouldn’t have been bothered that you weren’t as involved as usual because she got to do things that she wouldn’t normally do. Never underestimate the power of novelty!
    Get well soon!

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I was sort of “there but not there!” Heheh! But I think she enjoyed a weekend of just chilling around the house, even if I felt like Gollum! 🙂

  3. You’re probably forming cherished childhood memories of ‘that time she took care of mama.’

    1. I hope so! Letting her do a few things when I’m sick really seems to brighten her up. Thanks!

  4. you are doing a great job! even when you’re sick!

  5. Awesome blog post!! I also have found myself in a situation like that when sick, and it is HARD. Being a sick mommy is a whole new level of misery when you are in charge of every single thing. Sounds like you found some great ways to rest and keep the kiddo happy. Who cares about the house, dishes and laundry!! Those will still be there when momma is better. Yeah, tv is the easiest way to kill some time. I also let my kiddos get in to the tupperware cabinet or let them play with old bibs, baby bottles and such. The house ends up destroyed, but at least mom gets the very much needed rest. You have to let go of that stuff sometimes, or else you will literally drive yourself crazy. Let’s hope those germs stay away for a looooong time!

    1. DEFINITELY have to let go! It’s really hard, especially knowing you’re going to be the one picking it all up eventually. But what Ive found is that when you start feeling better, it actually feels GOOD to pick everything up and get back to normal again! Thanks so much!

  6. My kids are grown, but I still struggle with letting things go. You are a wonderful Mom. I love your work and your words. You lift my spirits. Im sending you get well very soon wishes.

    1. Thanks so much! SO good to hear it!

  7. Another creative idea, whether you’re sick or not. I love that you looked at making art out of the face photos and the part about how you can take a joke. They’re beautiful, and again, I love hearing about how you are raising your daughter to be such a creative spirit. Feel better!

  8. I was a single mother when I gave birth to my daughter in 1970, so I had lots of these times over the years. Plus, I was run over by a car when she was 12 & spent 2 weeks in the hospital & 2 months in a wheelchair. I refused to allow my infirmities to get in the way of her having a childhood, so I learned how to do dishes & cook with one hand & I hired someone to come in once a week to do the thorough cleaning. I’m sure that I didn’t get everything perfectly, but we both somehow survived & went on to being adults together. You did a most wonderful thing for your daughter this weekend!! She was probably happy as a chicken in a cornfield…or something like that. LOL

    1. Gosh that must’ve been hard! My sister is a single mom, and I often think “If she can do it, I can too!” And I have the extra benefit of a sweet guy calling me from a million miles away to remind me to take my medicine. Thank you so much–I’m pretty sure she WAS happy as a chicken in a cornfield?!? Hahah! She didn’t mind at ALL being in her pajamas all day, covered in paint. 🙂 Thanks!

  9. You’re doing GREAT. You are not only a fantastic mother, but also an awesome educator for your kid – her childhood is wonderful, with all that art and you involved in it so much! Prints of your portraits is a cool idea, love the brown paper (and you’re gorgeous!).

    Get well soon!!! Ginger tea – grate some ginger, put in a cup, pour on it boiling water, let sit for awhile, squeeze in lemon, add spoonful of honey, drink as many cups per day as you want and can – works for me.

    1. Thank you so much! Honey tea seems to help–I haven’t tried it yet with ginger. Sadly, I don’t remember that sort of thing until about 4 days into being sick. Silly me! Thank you!

  10. I’m so sorry you haven’t been well. And that it’s not easy being The Mom while The Dad is away.
    But you are the most industrious sick mama I’ve ever seen!! And creative on top of that sick!!! You win!!
    Get better, and please remind your daughter how well she took care of you. She’ll never forget it. I promise.

    1. Thanks so much–I will! I bragged about her to grandma and daddy and her aunt. I think she felt pretty special!

  11. I have been very fortunate that the times I was so completely knocked down from being sick I happened to have a relative visiting. Maybe the sickness was waiting for a safe moment to arrive. When I don’t have back up and I sense ‘something’ lurking, I announce a movie night for everyone and lay on the coach snoozing while the kids eat pizza and laugh. When they were much younger, I would have them sit on me (totally get you about needing to feel them there) while I napped.
    I really like your idea about printing the photos and letting her do whatever she wants to them. I am absolutely doing that with my kids! (hopefully not because I’m sick…)

  12. Respect, girl! You’re doing an amazing job. And I’m sure your man agrees. 🙂

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