It’s this exercise in mind-numbing exhaustion.
Meetings all morning, in a pair of pantyhose and let’s be honest, no one likes those on the best of days, let alone in a cold room with a sore throat. You’ve been lobbying to attend this meeting for nigh-on 18 months now, so calling to cancel wasn’t an option. It’s interesting, yes, but the muscles in your back hurt and you can’t turn your head to the left and you keep stealing cough-drops from your Dad, thank goodness he’s sick too and did you really just think that?
The kids are with your mom having the time of your life and when it’s time to pick them up one collapses in tears because good god, anyone would be better than you right now. You. You take them away from Nan, you scold and push arms into sleeves and bite your tongue in front of your mother but if she wasn’t here you’d be snapping Come on! Hurry up! Just DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD!
Don’t sleep, don’t fall asleep, you tell them over and over on the half hour drive home, but sure enough the younger one succumbs ten minutes before you arrive. You contemplate just driving but you pushed your thumb through your pantyhose earlier and your feet are freezing in those heels and if you don’t get some Advil soon, you’re not sure you’ll make it. So you pick them up, one by one, and tuck them into bed.
It never ends, never-ever, and no matter how tired you are or how much you want to sink into the comfort of your warm bed at 2:30 in the afternoon, sure enough that will be the day that someone decides they don’t want to nap and you’ll fight for an hour, holding them tight in your arms with your eyes closed hoping like hell they’ll fall asleep and their sibling won’t wake.
They don’t sleep, ultimately, but at least that extra-strength Advil kicked in and has lifted, slightly and temporarily, the throbbing aches coursing through your whole body. The little monsters got you sick again at the most inopportune time of the year.
You have to drive back downtown to drop off your husband’s text books for class tonight that he forgot. It’s the second of three nights that he’s not home this week. Every week. You drive the half hour, meet him outside then turn around and drive home. The kids are fighting and your head is cracking and you contemplate getting Happy Meals for supper for about 30 seconds and then ask everyone if they want scrambled eggs in front of the t.v. tonight. They scream Yes!! of course, and their tiny usually sweet voices scratch against the inside of your skull my god the headache.
The kitchen is a disaster, there are mounds of laundry that you can’t even bear to think about dealing with. All you want is a movie on the couch with a mug of herbal tea tonight. And you would, after supper and bath and bed time, except you still have 20 pages of a paper to write that’s due on Monday.
It never ends, never-ever, even when you need it to. Even when you need an early night with some Neo-Citran. Even if you would give anything to press pause for one day, make everybody else stop until you get healthy again.
You want to cry at least once every 10 minutes because who the hell should be expected to work like this when you have the flu? It’s so easy to feel sorry for yourself when you’re husband works long hours and you can’t keep on top of the housework between exams/term papers and children. It’s so easy to mope and whine and complain. It doesn’t make it any better or easier, though (unfortunately).
I’ll catch up on the laundry next week, I promise. But all the bathrooms were cleaned this week, I can’t help but adding, looking for justification or at least some praise. He doesn’t hear me, or maybe just doesn’t acknowledge my desperate praise-seeking. He does everything perfect, you see. He works 11 hours days, takes two university classes and even has a six-pack. I sink further and further into my den of flu-infested-self-pity.
Term papers used to be on the top of the priority list, all those years ago. Now it’s hard to fathom that one as large as this is very close to the bottom. I can’t even care about it. At least not before scrambled eggs, bath, stories and lullabies.
The dark circles under my eyes seem to reach halfway down my cheeks. Kids laugh and play and giggle and fight about whose dress is more twirly. They need to eat and be cleaned and put to bed. They need reassurance that everything is ok.
But tonight, so do I. And my mommy’s not here.