I recently took inventory of my paid-time off to use before the end of the year and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had more days than expected. A PTO surplus is not something I’ve had before, so I immediately texted my husband to inform him that we should play hooky. He had been wanting to see a movie in theaters, something we never do, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. With our son at daycare for the day, we had a solid six hours to do as we pleased. The sky was the limit when it came to my daydreaming of this day: we would go out to breakfast and lunch! shopping! see the movie and eat popcorn infused with candy! Not only this, but the day prior was Halloween and the day after was my friend’s wedding. So, I dreamed of how great it would be to stay up late after trick-or-treating, enjoying all the fun holiday traditions that comes with having a toddler, and there was the added benefit of having a day to relax before partying the night away at the wedding. Again, the sky was the limit with my expectations for this weekend.
You know how expectations and reality usually collide in a weird way? Well, my day of “playing hooky” was no exception. I had been fighting a nagging cough for two weeks by the time Halloween rolled around, and I was so grateful that we got off work early that day because I really wasn’t feeling that great. Next, they called for severe thunderstorms during prime trick-or-treating time. We thankfully managed to go out for about an hour, running home as the rain started falling. On a positive note, it was the warmest Halloween night I’ve ever experienced, thanks to the impending storm. It was nice not having to freeze! The run home did me in though, and I knew it was time to acknowledge that I was indeed sick. Friday morning arrived and I was in no shape to leave the house. My son also complained of not feeling well so we volleyed from the couch to the bed all day. I was very disappointed that the day date was cancelled. At the same time, I was glad that I had already planned to be off this day, as if I had given myself the permission and space needed to stay home and be sick.
There’s a Dayquil commercial that says, “moms and dads don’t take sick days.” And on Friday morning I was indeed worried that I couldn’t be sick and a mom. I was especially concerned when my son started crying for Halloween candy at 9:00 AM. I felt like I didn’t possess the patience or general wherewithal to make it through this tantrum or this day. Nevertheless, I pulled from my last reserve of energy and threatened to throw all the candy away if he didn’t stop crying. The rest of the day went quite pleasantly so it turns out that a person can be sick and a parent! It also helped to have help, of course. My husband did the lion’s share of the parenting and housework, for which I am thankful. Also, a special thanks to the Powers That Be for not taking us both out simultaneously!
A lot of times we push ourselves too hard, thinking that it will be fine. The worst experience I had with this was in college, when I was so sick but forced myself to attend my classes. I was miserable all day but would not go home. I felt obliged to be there: I had a rigid professor and a rehearsal that night, so I was literally there all day, totally sick. And what did I gain for my efforts? A lot of side-eyes from fellow students who were pissed that I had exposed them to my germs. I have not forgotten that experience because of how dumb I had been. Nothing is more important that our health. We cannot do anything or serve anyone well when we are ill. Since that time in college, I’ve made it a priority to tend to myself, taking as many days as necessary to fully recoup. But I will say this, we did attend the wedding. I slept it off as much as I could and kept a cough drop going at all times to avoid causing a scene. The bride is a dear friend and I decided that I would still go as long as I wasn’t deathly ill. Sometimes going out of your way for a friend means the world to the relationship, especially on a wedding day.