It’s naptime, we had a great morning and I sit down and think, “I should write something. Something brilliant. Something witty. Something to lighten a sunny Saturday.”
Instead, you’ll get something honest.
I hit my zero-point this past week. As a family we endured 2 straight weeks of illness, someone falling to pray (or sit upon) the porcelain god, with a recovery rate of 4 days. On average. Ah yes, the flu.
Everyone gets the bug from time to time. It infests households, moms wash loads of pukey sheets and hold back precious hair. Cartoons available in limitless availability. Cooking slows to chicken soup and jello. And then we go back to work.
Except, when you don’t.
As my first battle with the sick germs while staying home with the kids full-time, coupled with the duration in which it stuck around – seriously, 2 weeks is not a “24 hour bug” – I
walked stumbled crawled away from the experience enlightened about the toll in which simple setbacks can take on the homefront.
While I thank my lucky stars I have the privilege to choose to stay with my kids, I’m aware that in so doing, a person trades one set of stresses and frustrations for another. Because there are no profitability studies on clean-plate battles or naptime struggles (let alone a per-dishwasher-unload analysis), it’s tough to compare apples to oranges. The truth is, kids need the person caring for them much in the way that any job needs to be done.
The neediness of a child can’t be compared to the neediness of a functioning adult. Cuddles and hugs may seem elective, but in the development of children I assure you, they’re not. I don’t need to preach this if you’ve ever put a kid to bed at night. By nature, kids need love and attention. And when kids are sick, their pickiness and finickyness grows while their patience decreases exponentially.
While it sounds okay in theory, the reality of “needing mommy” is simply exhausting for any normal functioning human when endured for an extended period of time. That’s why God created them to be only 24 hour bugs, right? And for those of us without much outside-the-home responsibility, we enjoy freedom to sit and cuddle and be needed. Yes. We have no fear that the work project goes untouched.
But it still doesn’t alleviate the weight of always being needed.
Stand this in stark contrast to the isolation of SAH-motherhood, where rarely are you “wanted.” No one stops by your cube to walk for a cup of coffee. No one randomly IMs you to do an enjoyable recap of Modern Family. Actually, seldom arrives a personalized email in any form asking you to function as a contributing member of society.
Other moms probably do this SAH thing better than I; they’re connected to other moms for playdates, library storytimes and church MOPs**. Don’t get me wrong, they exist around here, but germy kids aren’t really welcome. So even if my phone was constantly text-alerting (because really, who calls anymore?), engaging during flu season poses a bigger challenge.
So it really wasn’t the puke. Or the laundry. Or even the whining.
I didn’t hit zero out of frustration, I landed there because of isolation. To be needed is to live up to your duty. But to be wanted is to be loved.
Seasons change; summer brings a new look upon my lifestyle (especially with a teacher-husband and a lakehouse full of family). Even spring and fall pose a few more opportunities to get out and about and interact, if even for a walk around the block or a trip to the park. So it’s for such a time is this that I endure. I realize it’s not forever – in fact, it will evaporate before I have the good fortune of being fully grateful for it.
On the one hand, I must stop the wallowing and see the big picture. On the other hand I make room to admit and accept the truth about what is an isolating experience.