Almost immediately upon returning home from ENMNCON15 I got sick. Since then, one or more members of my family have been sick. One. At. A. Time. And E is cutting molars.
It's true you really don't appreciate what you have until it's gone. This summer, we finally moved out of my parents' house. I love having a space just for my family again. I do, however, miss having backup when I'm sick.
I remembered how difficult it was having one sick child. I remembered what it was like having two sick children. I've never been on my own with three sick kids, or on my own sick with three kids before.
And G was actually out of school for a full week. This has never happened.
This was physically and emotionally draining. One of the kids, or me, or my husband were coughing, or sniffling, or even crying every night.
We would be better for a day or two, and then another one of us would start feeling sick. This had been going on for about a month - a full month - when N was hit with something that had her vomiting every 30 minutes or so. On this same day, my husband left on a work trip out of town. I hardly slept that night trying to keep N from getting sick in her own bed. As soon as I'd hear her start to whimper, I'd run into her room, ask if she needed to vomit, and subsequently swoop her off into the bathroom next door. As a result, I got very little sleep. In fact, I set up camp on the small couch near the kids' bedrooms so I could be closer and quicker to take action when N needed me. It was noticeably less comfortable than sleeping in my own bed, or a real bed, or even just a full size couch, if you're wondering.
In the morning, I managed to get up in time to get G ready for school. He leaves early - a full hour earlier than last year - and my husband usually gets him ready and off to school in the mornings so I can focus on the girls (which makes my morning routine infinitely less complicated). Being alone with the kids, I loaded all three of them in the car, covered N in a big towel, and hoped for the best as we drove out to drop off G at his school. I barely got him to school on time, but he hadn't eaten breakfast, and we forgot his backpack at school along with his snack. On the way home, N was feeling nauseated, and vomited again almost immediately once we got home.
I couldn't do it anymore. I was spent and defeated. Then - only because I felt so bad about G having to spend 3/4 of his school day on an empty stomach - I finally gave in. I called my mom for help. We're living about half an hour apart now (which is nothing big when you've spent the last almost 40 years of your life living half an hour away from everything). She showed up in time for me to deliver G's backpack to his school before his class had morning snack. And when I got home, I got to take a shower. And then? My mom told me to take a nap. A NAP.
I slept, and slept, and slept. And when I woke up, things didn't seem quite so bad.
I am so grateful to my mom for coming out that day. My parents are both retired, but I know they have their own things going on. She could just as easily have told me she was busy, but she didn't. She rearranged her day to help us. And I'm grateful that we live close enough that she could be here for us.
But here's the thing - why did I wait until I was so far off the edge of my rope before asking for help? I know I'm not the only one who does this. Why do we feel like we need to do it all? Or why do we feel it's necessary to even put on that appearance? Taking care of ourselves leaves us better equipped to take care of others, right?
I recently took a couple hours to run a few errands on my own. I didn't even have the baby with me. I took the opportunity to get a tea latte for myself from a local teamaker and just soaked up my "alone time". By the time I was heading home, I felt peaceful, relaxed and rejuvenated. You'd think I'd start scheduling this as a regular to-do on my calendar, but I still struggle with guilt for "not doing my job" and putting myself first.
Lessons for myself (and maybe you) that I'm still trying to beat into my head now:
1. Don't wait to ask for help. You know you'll need it before it becomes an emergency.
2. Don't feel bad asking for help - people want to help you, but don't always know how.
3. Don't feel guilty doing something nice for yourself. It doesn't make sense avoiding things that you wouldn't hesitate to arrange for someone else.
What are some lessons you wish you'd finally learn? And what are some things you love for people to do for you? For me, it was such a Godsend when my mom told me to nap. Napping. That feeling of being well rested could never be replaced, could it?