Monday, January 9, 2012

The Sunny Side of Sickness

For a few weeks when Primo was an infant, I did something pretty out of character -- I took him to Mommy and Me yoga class in the neighborhood. Its not that I have anything against yoga : in fact, I quite enjoy it as a form of exercise. I just get turned off when I feel I have to subscribe to a certain way of life or be a certain kind of person to "practice" yoga. I am not constitiuonally capable of quiet meditation and anything that hints at that tends to get me deeply anxious. In this way, Mommy and Me yoga was actually perfect, because there is no slim possibility of quiet meditation in a room full of screaming babies and toddlers. So, for a few months, I took him and we sang Wheels on the Bus while in downward facing dog. It was nice.

The other reason I liked Mommy and Me yoga was the teacher who led the group. At one of the first classes I went to, she told a story which made a tremendous impression on me. I am fairly certain I will never forget it. In fact, I think of her story a few times a year, usually in the winter, whenever I get dog-sick, as I was last week.

The instructor was a young mom of little kids and she always offered a little chit-chat in the beginning of class, getting everyone nice and relaxed and comfortable. On this particular day, she was telling us how she'd been really sick the week before.

"I was feeling bad for a few days," she recounted, "But when you've got little kids, as we know, you don't get to take a break when you're sick. Its just business as usual, except you feel so lousy. But then, after a few days, something wonderful happened. I got so sick that I was let off the hook. And I'd never thought I'd feel happy about shitting myself AND throwing up at the same time, but I did, because I knew that it would mean I could finally take a break. That's what happens when you're a mom."

It was pretty hilarious and fairly un-yoga-like, from what I could gather in my limited experience. And also a little harrowing, a little like the beginning of the Deer Hiunter when the fucked-up vet talks to the new solider about the war. I mean, childbirth is no piece of cake and its certainly not pretty but a few months into motherhood and I couldn't even IMAGINE being so desperate for a release from my duties that I'd joyfully shit myself and yak in my own hair at the same time. To know that was coming was a little unsettling. But man, she was right.

No onw wants to be sick, and God knows I freaking deplore it. But being moderately sick, when you have young kids, is kind of the worst, because you can be moderately sick for a long-ass time, weeks really, always getting a little worse, more and more run-down because being moderately sick doesn't win you an exemption from ANY freaking Mommy duties. You'll just have to drag your queasy, headachey, unsteady ass to work and swim class and after-school playdates and trick or treating. You'll have to throw birthday parties and make dinner and clean up the house and meet your deadlines no matter how shitty you feel. But when you turn the corner and get REALLY sick, you just can't anymore and someone - you don't care who - has to step in, for the good of the children. You're simply incapable of carrying on with business as usual and its not even an option. Swim class can go to hell. Similarly, playdates. Parties will have to be rescheduled. Someone else will have to pick the kids up from school and wipe their asses. ANd you will take your feverish ass, your shitty britches, your upchucking mouth and park it in bed. And sleep all day. I mean, its living the dream in many ways.

But you can't tell that to a pregnant woman. It'd scare the daylights out of her. Like the nasty details of post-partum recovery, there are some things that are better left unknown.