sick day post

Fair warning, I am actually sick today so this might not be great
but at least it's long

Imagine you wake up this morning and you feel like absolute shit.

You're coughing up little phlegm nuggets as chewy as gristle, tapping the river of slime from Ghostbusters II from your left nostril, and shivering under flannel pajamas, a hooded sweatshirt, and 2 pairs of socks.

You're sick.

ah yes
mommy's little fun drawer

So if you're not a parent, what you might do is, you might call into the office and say, "I don't want to spread this around. I'm going to hunker down and try to nip this in the bud." And then what you might do is take a hot shower, crawl back into bed with a box of Kleenex, a mug of tea, and an iPad, and get right.

(low whistle)
check out the loft
on that body pillow
mm hmm
oh that's real nice
i'm gonna crawl all up in that
and watch every episode of big little lies
to back
to back
with soup

But you know what's coming next, right? Parents don't get sick days.

Mommy wake up!
 I pooped!
I have poop on my neck!
Buster is licking the poop!"

Welcome to a sick day with a stay-at-home parent of preschoolers!

And a very merry sick day to you, madam!

My kids aren't school-aged so they're home with me all day.

That means that my "sick day," is just a regular work day in which I have all the same demands but am handicapped by an excruciating sinus headache and my full commitment to demonstrating the richness and complexity of my self-pity.

If y'all think DUDES do dramatic head colds, you should have seen me this morning, bundled up in three layers, eyebrows set to "Poor Little Match Girl" tilt, mouth hanging open as if I hadn't the strength to close up shop between tiny whimpers of agony...

It was like I was auditioning for a one-woman double-header production of Grey Gardens and Wit.

All of my regular-day-demands got far more emotionally complex and dramatically layered... you know, the way they would if I were an agoraphobic Long Islander with mild dementia and a hella good costume closet, or an acerbic spinster with 14 doctoral degrees and a terminal diagnosis.

Or, you know, myself, with a sinus infection.

Regular Day
Cook breakfast for kids
Cook breakfast for kids while grimacing and shuffling around the kitchen half-bent over even though my back doesn't hurt at all, it just feels like this person would walk like this, you know? 

Say “Oh, man, what happened” when Buster crashes Chicken’s Magna-tile tower, then negotiate the terms of a truce and the equitable division of the play room so that each child can play in peace.
Say “SSSSHHHHHHHH” with my eyes closed until the kids notice that Mommy’s gone into a fugue state, and then say in a hoarse voice they don’t quite recognize, “Y’all have until the count of 5 to decide who stays in this room and who goes into your room. I don’t care who goes where and I don’t care what you take with you, I just need a door between you. DO NOT ask me for help deciding. One. Two. Three…”

Text Ryan to see how his day is going
Wait for Ryan to text me to see how my day is going and then respond “Not great” WITH A PERIOD AT THE END. #OhShit #TextPunctuation

Clean up bucket of gravel Buster dumped on the floor
Stand dejected over a pile of gravel Buster dumped on the floor. Sigh heavily. Lumber down to my knees and begin scooping the gravel back into the bucket. Sigh again, louder. Pause to squeeze the bridge of my nose. When Buster asks if I’m okay, whisper, “I’m not sure, buddy. I’m just not sure.”

Today I do all my regular stuff PLUS I have to make sure that everyone around me knows that I am simultaneously

a) miserable, suffering an agony so profound that if another person were able to feel it, they'd look at me with awe, possibly even tears in their eyes, and murmur, "But how, you warrior goddess? How did you make instant oatmeal? Through this?"

b) courageously sacrificing my own health for your happiness

c) not complaining, no, I would never complain, just occasionally a few yelps of agony leak out in a moment of weakness, but I try to bite those back... for you, my darlings... (cough cough) For what is this life, but the slow march through fields of poppy flowers... toward eternity?

... and scene.


But seriously, "Moms don't get sick days" IS REAL.

I HAVE to work today, no matter what, and my kids are just old enough to resent my crankiness, but not quite old enough to actually help me out that much.

When I say to my kids, "I don't feel well, I'm really gonna need your help, can you please just not hit each other today" I might as well be making earnest eye contact with a vending machine, like, "Listen, buddy. I'm gonna level with you. I don't have any quarters, I skipped breakfast, and I can see you've got a bag of zesty Chex Mix goin beggin. So whaddya say? What would Jesus do?"

When people get sick, work is the last place on Earth they'd want to be.

When homemakers get sick, they have nowhere else but work to go.

So as I cooked breakfast this morning, I imagined what it would be like if a person took a sick day in a place of work, rather than the sanctuary of home.

Because for people who work at home, that's exactly what happens.


Imagine if the space behind your forehead felt like it were being filled with hot magnets that were trying to get out of your head THROUGH your skull. Imagine the soundtrack of the inside of your head sounded like a nuclear reactor in a Mission: Impossible movie - womp, womp, womp, womp.


And imagine you did that, breathing deep "haaaa-hooooooo" yoga breaths to try to reduce the rage that always comes with having to pick tiny things out of things with your fingernails.

And imagine that while you picked staples out of a piece of paper with your fingernails, your boss sat next to you, slurping a cup of milk, and exhaling through his nose, enjoying the pure, piercing tone of the nose whistle that he just realized he could do: zeeeeeeeeeeee...

Womp womp, pick, pick, pick, haa-hoooooo, womp sloooooorp, womp zeeeeeeeeeeee....
Womp womp, pick, pick, pick, haa-hoooooo, womp sloooooorp, womp zeeeeeeeeeeee....

Boss: Can you hear that?

You: Yeah.

Boss: Pretty cool, right?

You: Actually I find it pretty irritating.

Boss: Wait, let me do it again.


Imagine if every time you stood up you got woozy and off-balance. And then imagine if, every time you stood up, your co-worker ran full-speed into your body, straddled one of your legs, sat down on your foot, and screamed, "DANCE ME!"


Imagine you went to the break room to get a glass of water, praying that you might have simply missed that CDC breaking bulletin that, ha, turns out the flu can be cured by a single glass of water.

And imagine that as you're standing with your cup of water under the tap, you look over at your desk, and you see that someone has emptied a bucket of gravel onto your keyboard.

y'all didn't think i just imagined that one up
did ya
except in our house it wasn't the keyboard
it was the heating vent

oh, you're wondering why i have a bucket of gravel
i'm wondering what the fuck you're doing here
because you're not asking the right fucking question
and you're obviously not on the fucking team

i'm sorry
i'm sorry
i didn't mean that
i'm just

my head...

ps in case you're wondering
the right fucking question was
"nice gravel
did you find it in his shoe
or his lunchbox?"


Imagine your boss calls you into his office. He asks you to sit down. You sit down, coughing and holding your head.

Boss: My shoes are low.

You: Uh, (cough, cough) yeah, I guess they are kinda low.

Boss: WHY are my shoes low?

You: What?

Boss: Why are my shoes low?

You: I don't know.. they're your shoes.

Boss: But why are my shoes low?

You: (Cough) I--

Boss: Why are my shoes low? Why are my shoes low?

You: (Holds head) I don't--


You: (slams fist on desk, snarls, accidentally reveals the beast within) BECAUSE THEY JUST ARE, OKAY?

Boss: Oh.

(moment of silence)

You: I'm sorry--

Boss: Why is the desk smooth?



I might have tended to my self-pity until it bloomed into sad little poor-me blossoms, but I didn't conjure it out of thin air. I have two very good reasons to feel sorry for myself today.

At this moment those two good reasons are sitting on a pile of pillows watching Mater's Tall Tales.

In about 25 seconds the big one will holler "HEY MOM I THOUGHT YOU SAID WE COULD HAVE PIRATE'S BOOTY," and I will wince, shuffle over to the cabinet where the plastic bowls live, whimpering as I bend over and the womp-womp-womp in my head surges to a new high and I cover my eye holes to make sure my eyes don't actually explode out of my skull.

I will fill the bowls with the booty of pirates, sighing heavily, and then I will smile the "a greater peace awaits me in the next world" smile of Jean Valjean as I deliver the snack to the boys.

They'll say "thanks mom," without looking in my direction, and I'll curl up on the floor next to them, a heating pad pressed to my face, and dream everyone's favorite sick day dream... that Ryan will come home early today. With takeout.



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