When I was an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting, before Edgar came home, people would tell me, “You should go out and do all the things you won’t be able to do after you have a baby.”
It was never that simple. And I would never say that to anyone who was a parent-in-waiting like me, true as it may be. Yes, you probably should go out and do all the things you won’t be able to do after you have a baby, like staying out late or taking great trips. The problem is, if you’re like me, you don’t want to do any of those things; you just want a baby to love and snuggle for the rest of your life.
The only time when I was able to appreciate my status as a childless parent-in-waiting was when I was sick.
I hate being sick. I know, everyone hates it. But I really do. I hate feeling limited. I dislike the pain and discomfort.
Additionally, I have a couple of weird mental habits that arise when I’m sick. First, I always think that I’m ‘making it up’ – that I’m either not sick at all or not as sick as I’m feeling. I don’t trust that my stomach actually hurts or that I am actually experiencing fatigue. That’s why things like a fever or a strep test are incredibly helpful for me. When there is a calculable measurement that can be used to pronounce me Sick or Not Sick, it allows me to stop questioning things and just rest.
My second hang-up about being sick is even weirder: I automatically think that if I’m sick, it is somehow my fault. I haven’t been eating well enough, I’m not exercising the way I should, I don’t wash my hands as consistently as a mom with two young kids should.
It all adds up to me becoming a little down, even slightly depressed, whenever I get sick. But Pre-Kids Kerriann would just sink into it all. Not the depression, necessarily. But Pre-Kids Kerriann was really good at just saying, “I’m sick today. Shut it all down,” and then watching Netflix while eating trail mix for the rest of the day.
During the adoption wait, when I got sick, I was very aware that I was “enjoying” my sick days in a way that would not be an option after I became a parent. Once I had kids, I would not be able to spend the entire day on the couch watching old episodes of Veep. Once I had kids, I would not be able to eat all my meals on the couch and have “all my meals” consist of mostly Skittles, which to me are medicinal because they are practically cough drops. Once I had kids, I wouldn’t be able to put off any and all household responsibilities until I felt better, because dirty dishes can wait but dirty diapers cannot.
It was a strange thing to be grateful for during that stressful and painful two years that I was an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting. But I was grateful. Every single time I came down with a head cold or a stomach bug, I thought to myself, At least you can just be sick right now. This is the one thing in life that definitely will NOT be better when you have a baby.
Fast forward to 2019, when I am a happy mom with a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old, and I am currently on the mend after experiencing a super-annoying stomach bug for the last three days.
You guys – parenting while you’re sick is the worst. I am not the best mom on sick days. I am disengaged, and I lack creativity. I woke up one day, tired and nauseous, and I knew I had seven hours to get through until Edgar’s nap time. We watched a few episodes of Daniel Tiger, which is a pretty rare treat in our house. I stumbled through making them breakfast. I allowed Jonas to pull every book and every puzzle off the bookshelf. Then I looked at my watch and it was 7:45 a.m. SEVEN FORTY FIVE! It felt like I’d been awake and mommying for 19 hours by that point, and I wasn’t even two hours into the day.
Sometimes I do wish I could magically have one of those Pre-Kids sick days, when I can 100% focus on resting and recuperating. But then – my kids are pretty awesome, and I’m a pretty happy mom. So I will power through my sick days with as much grace and gratitude as I can muster.