At 3 a.m. on a workday, the last thing any parent wants to hear is a crying child.
The playpen diaries
A crying child in the middle of the night can mean one of any number of things.
It could mean your child has had a nightmare and with some loving, snuggles and reassurance they will be back off to dreamland in a matter of minutes. It could mean your child has wet the bed, not quite as easy a fix but still manageable. Or it could mean your child has woken up in a pile of vomit, is now covered in it and the entire room will need an overhaul.
I will give you one guess as to which circumstance I awoke to late Monday, or early Tuesday, depending on how you want to look at it - scenario No. 3.
It wasn't surprising since we're in the midst of flu season, and considering the fact that my children had just received their vaccines the week before and were most likely just feeling the side effects, but what was surprising was how the rest of my week played out.
After a long night of cleaning, snuggling, monitoring and eventually being kicked in the face by the tiniest bed hog I know, this tired mama was a bit run down.
However, in the real world, there is no time to be run down.
The following day I did the unthinkable - I called into work and stayed home with my kids.
I have to say, I was amazed at how guilty and torn I felt about this decision.
On one hand there was no way I was going to leave my babies when they were so sick, and on the other, I didn't want to let down those who were counting on me at the office.
This is the first time since having children I have ever felt this sort of inner struggle, but in the end I knew I only had one option - besides, it was only for a day.
After a day of movies, fluids and play, I knew my two little monkeys would be back to full health and life would continue as normal.
Well, life did not continue as normal. Although my children had made a full recovery, this mama was going down and going down fast.
By the time I had put the kids to bed I was feeling the chills, had some achy bones and the onset of a headache.
I told myself I was just run down and needed to get to bed. It's funny because when I called into work the night before my colleague had said, "Don't get sick," and my reply was, "Don't worry, I'm a machine."
As parents we think we can do it all.
I get up extra early so I can get ready, eat and do whatever I need to do before my children are out of bed.
During the day, I go to work, use my lunch to go to the gym and power through my day so I can be at daycare on time.
And last but not least, in the evenings I play, cook, clean and bathe and, if I'm lucky, my children will go to bed early enough, giving me a couple hours to relax. It's busy but I love it.
However, on the day I stayed home to take care for the kids, I should have taken advantage of naptime. While they where sleeping, I should have been resting because I was run down from the night before, but instead took the opportunity to do a few things around the house. Well, I am not a machine.
The following three days, I was taken down by the flu. Yes, I got my children vaccinated, but of course did not think to do the same for myself, a mistake I will only make once. My husband was out of town so I had no choice but to be mom.
Being a parent is a tough enough job. Being a parent while sick is damn near impossible. Not going to lie, my children ruled the house. Whatever they wanted, they got. Mom was not willing to put up the fight. This is where my second inner struggle came to be: do I keep the kids home because I am home? Or do I send them to the sitter and relax?
Not wanting making the same mistake as the days before, I took the kids to the sitter and took advantage of the couch. I slept, relaxed and recuperated.
I am still not 100 per cent, this year's flu is a beast, but from the entire ordeal I did learn a few important lessons - one, get the flu shot; two, no one can do it all; three, never let your kids eat ice cream for supper, it does far more harm than good; and last but not least, family is always first, no matter what the situation. We as parents may think we can do it all, but as this sick mama learned, we are not machines and even the best of us have to take a sick day.
Lyndsay McCready can be reached at 306-691-1263 or follow her on Twitter @Newsielou