(image courtesy of Google images)
Being sick for the majority of the week, and my daughter having been sick for almost two weeks, has really made me step back, appreciate, and realize some things.
I am not a machine; eventually I break down when I push myself for too long and too hard. Not getting enough sleep, taking on too much, and not taking time to relax and rejuvenate are my three biggest crimes. Add to that not ensuring that I’m eating properly (even though I make sure my family does) and I gradually start to fall apart. At that point I’m forced to literally stop everything I’m doing and rest in order to get well, otherwise it takes a whole lot longer. (I know this from experience.)
Health is extremely important and should be appreciated each and every day. I have to admit that this is something which I often forget to do. There is no substitute for a well-balanced meal, a good night’s sleep, and positive emotional health. These things are vital to maintaining wellness. While I am diligent that these concepts are an integral part of my family’s lifestyle, they are also the components which I let slide for my own life. I have a tendency to ‘burn the candle at both ends’ by staying up late to complete tasks and getting up early only to jump on the hamster wheel once again. Skipping meals or grabbing something quick in order to save time has also become a not-so-great habit.
When my kids are sick it is worse than when I am sick. Being sick is awful, but when your child is sick and nothing seems to be helping is even more awful. Even the cold or flu can send a worrisome mother (or father) over the edge with frustration and anxiety, especially when your child has it for what seems to be a long time. My world, as I know it, seems to be put on pause, to hold its breath if I may, as my thoughts center around the health of my child and the hopes and prayers that the fever will break, the congestion will cease, and that she will soon be back to her spitfire self. It’s hard to think of much else, even when so much else demands my time and attention, including becoming sick myself.
During illness, things which seemed to be so important become less and less important. I hate to have my daughter miss her skating and skiing lessons. I am so afraid that she will miss out on some important new skill or that she will miss her evaluation time and not be put ahead into her next level, even that she will fall behind her peers. The same goes for my son – I dislike him missing hockey or snowboarding for fear that he will miss out on something important or that he will let down his team by not being there. Sometimes I forget that my kids are still kids, that they are going to get sick, and that they will need time to rest and recover the same way that I forget about that for myself. When I am not well I realize that things that seemed of utmost importance actually can wait, they don’t need to be addressed right now, and that they can even be left to slide a little (gasp!).
Unfortunately though, as adults, while our own world may seem to grind to a halt when we are sick, the real world keeps going on around us. The bills still need to be paid, the laundry continues to pile up, and the housework doesn’t magically go away. Groceries need to be purchased, meals need to be made, and lunches need to be packed. If there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all of those things while feeling well, there definitely doesn’t feel like enough time to get them all done when you lack energy from being sick. So begins the vicious cycle of “catch up”.
While many of us can freely call in sick to work, it seems impossible to take ‘sick leave’ from the world. The world does not seem to have a compassionate employer who reassures us that our health is most important and to feel better before taking on our responsibilities again. No, the world can often seem like a slave driver, pushing and pushing and pushing us to complete the things we are required to do and nagging at us when those things go unfinished. Even when we are beaten down, the world continues to beat on us to continue on.
My world does grind to a halt occasionally. A couple of times a year I am forced to succumb to the fact that I am sick and that I need to rest. At those times I am reminded that I am only human, that my weakness is normal, and that I need to stop and refocus on my own health and wellness. The real world will continue on, maybe even nagging, wagging its finger at me, but my own world can be put on hold for a bit – it is allowed and it is completely ok to take a break. There will be other days, some better than others, and life will continue on, its wheels in motion to get my world up and running again in no time.