Life’s been busy. Very busy. It’s why you haven’t heard from me for a while. Oh, I’ve thought about writing. My most recent thought was a blog post on how I think that the parenting style my husband and I have chosen sometimes makes us really need a break. It can make us yearn for the occasional “day off”. Not because of missy. We drink in every part of her. But we have chosen to live a limited-screen time existence. To ignore our phones as much as possible. To be “present”. And, when you only have one child, that can essentially make you your child’s favourite toy. The one she wants with her all the time, to interact with, talk at (note I didn’t say to) and mess about with. It’s all sort of wonderful, but then you also become that parent who laughingly talks about “getting rid of the kid” for a day before remorse immediately crashes down in waves of sweet-smelling toddler love.
So, that’s where I’ve been at. And that blog post would have been fun, but this one’s a cautionary one. Cos here’s what happens when you don’t take that break. When you forget that taking care of a child also means taking care of yourself.
Related: Why maternity leave is not a break
More than a month ago I had an incredibly stressful period at work. I’m talking not-sleeping, working weekends, snapping-at-everyone-because-technology-is-crazy-type stress. It was made more potent by a supplier who thought abusing me down the phone and talking over me constantly while referring to me constantly as “she” (while I’m on the call I might add) was acceptable. Oh, and they did a shit job. A shit two-week job that blew out to about six weeks.
So, I got through that (amid organising our company’s annual award’s night), headed into a long weekend to relax and BANG, sick. No surprises there.
I took an extra day off work, and got back into it. But it continued. More time off, mostly working from home. Still receiving texts from colleagues, and logging in to do the odd job. I wasn’t really switching off.
I’d take the home time opportunity to pick missy up from childcare a little earlier to avoid grumpiness, tell Mum to head home early when she was looking after miss. All the things I usually do if I find myself at home early with an illness.
But here’s the thing. It didn’t get better.
Doctor one said it was viral. At this point I couldn’t eat, chew, barely swallow. A week later doctor two gave me drugs. A week after that he gave me stronger drugs. A few days after that doctor three had me packed off to emergency, and I’ve been in hospital for four days (one of those my birthday – poor me!) and counting, with what appears to be extreme locked jaw and an abscess in my throat. Basically, I’m wrecked.
I’m pumped full of steroids and antibiotics while the doctors talk about tonsillectomies (I’ve never even had tonsillitis) and forced to read books and stare out the windows. Parenting dream, right?
In some ways it’s nice to be forced to rest, but it’s a stark reminder of what we do for our jobs, our children, our families. We keep going. We keep going until we fall into a heap and a doctor is standing over your bed wondering why it took you so long to come to hospital and get treatment.
So parent, a reminder. Look after yourselves. Christmas is coming. It’s stressful. If you can, make some time for you. Give yourself a break. Outsource, life-hack, cook from a packet, say no to the occasional jaunt when you just can’t be stuffed. Whatever you have to do to give yourself a rest, do it. Because, while relaxing in bed for days on end might sound all sorts of wonderful, I’d much rather be with my beautiful family.
Oh, and shout out to my amazing hubby. Pretty much rocked the sole parent role for a month now. I know not everyone has such great support, so it’s worth a virtual high five.