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Sick Day Lessons

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It started with a little belly ache late Saturday night. Within an hour, I was attending a puke fest. Unfortunately, one of our favorite blankets got the brunt of it. The snow leopard faux fur blanket can now be found in a black garbage bag on the side of our house.

Sunday was a day of rest with belly aches, fevers, headaches, and pink bubblegum Motrin. During the day, she fell asleep on the couch with her cold feet in my lap.

Today is Monday and she’s missing her first day of school since starting first grade. She argued a little this morning when she woke up proclaiming, “I feel fine! I can go to school.”

But within a few minutes, she surrendered. She realized that maybe she did still need some rest. She still had a low grade fever and her energy was much lower than usual. It kind of snuck up on her. This feeling of not being “ok” just yet.

We made a bed on the couch. She spent the day eating saltines, playing on her tablet, and watching movies. I sat with her, applying for writing jobs and scrolling Facebook. She’d have bursts of energy and we’d giggle about one of our silly jokes that are only funny to us. Then it would hit her like a ton of bricks again and she’d be flat on her back under the blankets. Her usually bright eyes would half close and she’d lay still for a bit.

I’ve been feeling a lot like her lately. Without the puking, luckily. I convince myself I feel fine only to have it hit me like a ton of bricks at the worst times. Times when I need to have energy and positivity and compassion and gratitude. But my low-grade fever of sadness isn’t always as manageable as I’d like. And so I half close my eyes and rest on the couch for a little bit and do my best to pull it together.

I think about my good health when many close to me aren’t so lucky right now.

I think about our happy ending of a fertility story when others weren’t so fortunate.

I think about our warm place to live and our selection of cereals, noodles, and soups in the cabinets.

I do my best to bring it back down to basics when I can’t manage the swirling thoughts. It’s my five-minute version of a sick day. It doesn’t always work, I’ll admit.

Sometimes my sadness is palpable. Sometimes my inner temper tantrums make their way to the outside and doors get slammed, things get thrown, some drinks are drunk, and too much spaghetti is eaten.

But sometimes I’m able to comfort myself the way a mother comforts her child on a sick day. A blanket, a remote control, and saltines can do a lot of good.

And an unsolicited “thank you, Mommy” quietly uttered reaches through me almost knocking me off my feet. Because they say you get what you need when you need it. And I need to believe that is true.

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