Us girls are pretty tough when it comes to all things pain-related (periods, giving birth, even breastfeeding!), but isn’t it just the worst thing ever when we get really ill?
Without the risk of sounding like someone craving sympathy (stick with me as I have a good point here), I think it’s fair to say that the worst thing about getting ill is that life goes on as normal of course BUT we’re expected to roll with it.
Poorly? What’s that?
It’s okay for kids (and dare I say it, the other half) to get ill; if they get so much as a sniffle off they trot to bed, whining and expecting plenty of sympathy, coupled with round-the-clock drinks, meals, snacks, tissues…..
And who is doing all of this? Yes, it’s us lovely mummies who wait on our nearest and dearest hand and foot, clearing up snotty tissues, changing bedsheets, making wholesome food, supplying endless rounds of Beechams – and sympathy.
And then one day, seemingly out of the blue, illness hits you like a 3-ton lorry. You feel absolutely awful, you have no energy and your body is screaming out for rest.
But life just doesn’t stop – you have to summon all your strength to get up out of bed, feed the kids, make sure they are dressed, their book bags are packed, they’ve been tested on their spellings, taken to school, picked up from school, made their tea, made sure homework is done, bath them, read to them…the list seems endless.
You can’t think straight and every little task you do feels like you’ve run a marathon.
What’s more, we also do all of the above – and more – without complaint or even a little groan passing our lips.
The Mummy Trap
I call this scenario the Mummy Trap. We’re trapped into being ill, but as mothers we are also trapped into continuing with day-to-day chores and life because….well, there’s no one else to do it frankly. Or if there is, they somehow don’t seem to do it as well or cope as well as we do.
Apparently, a new study has found that the average mum falls ill 324 times over their kids’ childhood, with an endless cycle of sore throats, runny noses, migraines and sickness bugs meaning that we will be left feeling under the weather 18 times a year.
Unfortunately, I think I get my fair share of this – and someone else’s as well. Ever since I’ve been 12 years old I’ve suffered from god-awful migraines.
No, not the silly aura kind with the flashing lights – those seem like a walk in the park compared to the excruciating throbbing pains in my head that I regularly endure. It’s so violent that it makes physically sick.
Sometimes the pain is so bad that I have to make myself physically sick rather than wait to be sick just to release the pressure – and fleetingly take my mind off the worst pain ever.
When I’m having a migraine attack, I am literally useless. Nowadays, with the kids a bit older this isn’t so bad. They know I have regular attacks and that I cannot be relied upon to do tasks (without hurting myself – or others!), so they just get on with it.
But when they were younger…well, let’s just say I have absolutely no idea how I got through some of the attacks while looking after a crying baby or needy toddler.
Fortunately, in most cases I had my parents to turn to for help. If it wasn’t for them I honestly don’t know how I would have got through some of the tougher migraines.
And yet when we’re ill why do we feel guilty about it? It’s not like we make ourselves poorly on purpose.
We really give ourselves a hard time over every single decision we make. We question ourselves over and over….How does it affect the kids? Am I doing the right thing? How can I improve this…? But the guiltiness just never goes.
Is it just a mother’s instinct to feel guilty? I remember saying this to someone at a work conference I attended once. I think my exact words were “As soon as we give birth us mothers start to feel guilty.”
The person I spoke to at the conference was fascinated that I had made this statement; he couldn’t understand it – and he possibly thought I was exaggerating. But I told him to go home after the conference and ask his wife if she feels guilty about…well, everything.
Three days later I got an email from him saying that I could read his wife’s mind better than he could and asked if we could swap brains.
Anyway, without digressing too much, my point is this: As mothers we are expected to be Wonder Woman.
We are multi-taskers, all the household members depend on us and we are constant comforters and carers.
At some point or another, we will get ill; sometimes quite severely ill. And we will want to be left alone to recover. But life goes on and we won’t be left alone.
But if we can’t change the situation then remember this as you’re battling through with a ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude: you are depended on for a reason; your kids, your partner, your family…they all love you and are lost without you.
Maybe that will offer some condolence to you when you next have to drag yourself out of bed to clean up spilt milk or fetch a plaster for a finger that shows no signs of being hurt.
In the big scheme of things, we all just want to be loved don’t we? Even when we’ve just been sick and we haven’t quite summoned up the energy to wash in three days.
Just me? Okaaaay….just off for that shower now then. Oh hang on, the kids are calling…