3:05 AM. Z woke up an unhappy, sweaty mess. As I took his temperature, the thermometer formalized what I already knew: my kid was sick. As my husband slipped into the guest bedroom to get a few more hours of sleep before the workday, I attempted to calm our toddler. He shuffled for the next hour or so before finally drifting off to sleep. By the time he woke up, I was finally settling down. “Mommy, UP!” Unfortunately, it was time to start moving.
But I work, too. I called the office to let them know I wouldn’t be coming in that day. The thing is I adore my job and the people I work with. We are a true work family. I feel like I’ve let them down anytime I call in. Lately I had been missing more work than usual due to medical appointments. I didn’t want them to think I was taking advantage of them.
I attempted to navigate the day on less than six hours of sleep. Although I had been attempting to cut back, I gave in to the desire for caffeine. My body ached for rest. Even though I never seemed to have the energy, I would stay up far too late in an attempt to clear my mind and reset for the next day. It was a delicate balance and I was often just a little bit off.
Breakfast was easy, albeit very, very early. Z asked to go on a walk on two separate occasions, so we went. I needed the exercise and it was a perfect way for him to get some fresh air outside. The only problem was it was HOT. Texas hot. 90 degrees before 10:00 AM without much of a breeze. On our second morning walk, Z fell asleep in the stroller and I walked him to sleep for a brief 20 minute nap before successfully placing him in his crib. I felt relieved – and exhausted. Finally! A couple of hours to myself. Perhaps I could check emails or even take a nap, anything to recharge from the previous night. However, with Z’s birthday only a few weeks away, I found myself looking up birthday invitations and party decorations rather than taking time to refresh.
The nap didn’t last. Within 45 minutes he woke up screaming and grabbing his ears. “Oh no,” I thought to myself, “an ear infection.” He cried and cried, begging for daddy for several minutes as I hurriedly dialed the pediatrician’s office. They had one opening with a doctor I didn’t know. “I’ll take it,” I said, and headed out the door, crying toddler in tow.
The pediatrician’s office was fast (thank goodness), but the ear infection I was so sure he had was faint. At one point, they encouraged me to wait to start antibiotics unless his condition worsened. “Worsened?” I thought. As a parent – especially a working mom – the thought was foreign. Why would I want to wait? It is true I disliked the idea of giving my kid medicine he didn’t need, but if there was even a chance it was treatable, I wanted to act sooner than later so he would start to feel better and – let’s be honest – so I could get back to work.
The day was filled with ups and downs. I attempted to do laundry, but was easily distracted. Every time I started dishes, Z wanted to play in the sink. He was hungry, but then he wasn’t. I snacked, but never ate a real meal. I wasn’t doing anything at 100% and was running with less than a quarter in the tank. I was distracted and it was evident. At some point I gave in and allowed him to watch more TV than usual in an attempt to get him to rest and give me a moment to rest. Nevertheless, patience slipped. I said things I didn’t mean. Eventually, I made my son cry.
Within a few minutes of my husband getting home “The thermometer was on the floor for some reason and now it’s broken. How did this happen? Have you taken his temperature lately? He’s burning up!” The words stung more than they should have. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it, he was just worried about our kid.
The truth was I had no idea how the thermometer had gotten on the floor, other than I let Z play with it for several minutes earlier. He didn’t even have a temperature at the doctor’s office only an hour or so prior. How did this happen so quickly? How did I let it get this bad so quickly? Why was I so distracted? I had tried to do so much and I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything.
But I had accomplished something – several things, actually:
- Visited the pediatrician’s office;
- Picked up Z’s prescriptions;
- Baked brownies;
- Cleaned dishes;
- Started a load of laundry;
- Kept tummies full;
- Read several books;
- Went on two walks; and
- Shared snuggles.
We were on the road to recovery.
Sometimes it is hard for us to give ourselves some grace, especially on really hard days. It is even harder when someone we love is sick. For taskmasters, the thought of spending the day taking it easy so everyone can get well is a foreign idea – and many times very hard. The truth is, there are some days we cannot do it all – and that’s OK. What is important to remember is we do our best and prioritize what is important. Right now, my priority is for my house to get healthy again.