Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008: A View from the Pillow

I spent this, my fourth Mother's Day in bed. Swaddled in blankets, senses dulled by painkillers and antibiotics, I was not the queen for a day the jewelry store commercials promise. Instead, I was the queen of the near dead battling strep throat, exhaustion and the flu.

I have spent the past two days vainly attempting to block out the noise of my four year old and 9 month old fussing, wrestling and destroying my husband and apartment. One interesting side effect, besides slurred speech and swollen glands, was my husband's new found depth of appreciation for the actual work in motherhood. He was always involved, sometimes at the periphery, often in the middle, of the chaos of two children under 5. However, these past few days he was it. For better or worse their every need, and his survival, landed squarely on his shoulders.

I laughed as I vacuumed the crumb strewn carpet, in a vain attempt to recapture some semblance of order. Dripping with fever sweat, I picked up toys sticky with goodness knows what. I remembered last weekend. He was down with an ankle injury. Seated in the recliner, a cool drink in his hand, he never once thought to vacuum or pick up a toy. I, however, couldn't take it anymore. I simply had to straighten, soothe or care for something, someone other than myself.

This Mother's Day I had a lot of time to think. It wasn't quiet time. We live in a very, very small apartment, so I can still hear every move, every toy beeping and every 9 month old grumbling and fussing. However, with the fan running and a cd in the player, I could almost imagine true peace. In the peace I found out a few things about myself.

I found out I ignore myself everyday, a hundred times a day. I was coming down with this mac truck several days before I got fully run over. Had I taken a nap, some extra vitamins and tylenol could I have avoided this complete hijacking of my ability to breathe, eat and sleep? What would happen if I spent just one minute a day listening, instead of silencing?

I also learned how to turn off my inner guilty voice. Like an 80 year old Yenta, she chatters in my ear saying things like, "Look at you, Queen Mother, laying around. Suck it up. You gave birth--this, this 'little cold', is nothing! It doesn't matter you can't breathe, swallow, eat, see straight. Get out there and read to a child for goodness sakes. Well, in my day..."

The PPD Gorilla began to growl from the corner. He reminded me exercising and resting were key 'treatments' for my 'condition'. I reminded him to shut the hell up and let me sleep.

Finally, I learned a hard truth about mothering. Short of natural disasters and other accidents we dare not name, my kids will be just fine if I check out for awhile. They'll eat (though who knows what). They'll sleep (not in naps, but exhausted from overplaying, face down in their own drool in the exersaucer). They'll play (giggling at their silly daddy or at how the baby likes to gag himself on whatever is handy, a toy, his bink, the dog, etc.). They'll be fine. The days will pass on just like any other.

On this Mother's Day I am okay with missing a few moments with the baby where he learned he liked lasagna. I am okay with not having the conversation with my 4 year old about why lint on his pee-pee isn't a disease. I am more than okay with the spa gift from my husband and dad.

Surprisingly, I am okay with having checked out for a few days. I think I'll do it more often. Only next time without viruses and antibiotics (though maybe not sans the painkillers!).

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