When mama is sick

I woke up with a fever of 102 racking my whole body. I staggered into the girls’ rooms to change their diapers and get them dressed. Putting out two bowls of Cheerios and two sippies of milk, I turned on Sesame Street and promptly (and accidentally) passed out on the couch.

I was awoken from sleep by a kiss. My eyes snapped open, horrified that I had fallen asleep. I was staring into Ruthie’s enormous eyes. “Mama, you sick?,” she inquired. “Yes, baby,” I answered. Before I could stop her, she planted another big kiss on my lips. “I make it all better, mama.” “Thank you, baby.”, I told her, realizing how the whole “kiss it and make it better” thing had really backfired on me from a hygienic standpoint.

My husband was able to come home from work to feed the girls their lunch, and my mother, grandmother and sister were able to help me watch the girls and bring me groceries for the next three days, thank God (and them!) I felt so helpless. My children depend on me all day and all night. What is to become of them when I am out of commission? And how am I supposed to recover when I spend all day running around after babies and all night feeding the infant?

Today it got so bad between being sick and the children being more demanding than usual (I had two crib messes to clean up, and Ruth had four accidents in a row), I told my mom that I was going outside to lay down and die in peace and quiet. In retrospect, I was probably being a tad dramatic.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I have never personally subscribed to that belief, but there are times when I just can’t do it alone, as much as my pride would tell me I MUST do this alone. I sometimes find myself wrestling with guilt over needing help. I feel like I was the one who got myself pregnant all those times, and if I can’t take care of my children all the time, no matter what, then all those people who look down on me for having three under three were right. People these days tend to have such negative attitudes toward having children, I feel a lot of pressure to do it all myself and make it look easy just to prove them wrong. I once tearfully admitted to this guilt when my dad had offered his assistance and I turned him down without really knowing why. They way he responded to my concerns I will always remember. “You can’t think that way.” He told me. “Everyone needs help sometimes. That doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong. We love you. We are so glad for your children. We’ve been there ourselves and we know that it gets easier. And we want to help.” Being a mom sometimes means accepting help when you need it.

Thank you to my dear family for helping me out. I couldn’t do this without you. Someday, when my own children are grown and I see a mom with small ones struggling, I will be sure to pay it forward. Although having my three sweet babes is the biggest blessing of my entire life (besides my wonderful husband, of course), it would be disingenuous of me to act like every day is smooth sailing. It is difficult. But so is anything else in life worth having.

Never be ashamed of struggling, mamas. You are doing Herculean feats. Thank you for giving your all for these precious little ones. We are grateful for every little face and the mama behind it that makes sure it is clean.

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