Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Sick Mom: An Urban Myth Debunked

Originally posted on www.dullesmoms.com:

It doesn’t exist. Sure, in theory it sounds perfectly plausible, but stop trying to find one. You won’t. I know without a doubt that there is no such thing. Why? you ask. How? you ask, could I make such a claim. I’ll tell you. I learned from experience – an experience I’m hoping leaves my frontal cortex sometime soon, so I can go on again in blissful ignorance that under some dire circumstance of extreme personal illness I may be able to lay down for more than five minutes after puking a few organs up.

There I stood, half-witted, mostly delirious, ankle deep in vomit, with rags, Lysol, and carpet cleaner in hand. I was the last (wo)man standing - the lone soldier using my one good arm to drag a wounded comrade to the safety of the medic’s tent. Ok, maybe that’s an extreme analogy, but that is how I felt when I was in the thick of it. It had been nine bloody days of battle, and I came to the realization that I was the only one left to fight – not that I was in tip top shape. No, I was the only one left with enough strength, enough fortitude to clean yet another foul smelling explosion from a family member’s orifice off of my white carpet. The virus crippled my family. It held on for 15 days. One by one we dropped like sweat down the crack of my ass on a hot day. But, pardon me, I miswrote…they dropped, not I…not the mother.

Fathers, sons, and daughters have the luxury of staying in bed while sick and having a personal maid, nurse, and janitor all wrapped up into one lovely package called Mom. It’s not that I was the only one who felt well enough to be the caretaker. It was that I was the only one who had no choice in the matter. So, after dealing with a highly contagious and overwhelmingly debilitating virus for three weeks I can confidently tell you, as I am sure all veteran moms know… a sick mom does not exist! Someone in the family is always sicker, has a birthday party that needs planned, or a school project to be completed. The idea of the “sick mom” is much like the idea of the Loch Ness, Big Foot, and Moth Man. People have claimed sightings, there are legends, and tales, but no concrete proof, unless you read the Enquirer, and then you would believe almost anything, like chocolate isn’t at the bottom of the food pyramid and horizontal stripes make the blimp you call an ass look small.

You might get fooled. You might think you’ve spotted a sick mom in the emergency room while you’re there getting beans from an old art project tweezed out of your child’s nose. You will spot her right away. She’ll have dark bags under her eyes and hair that looks like it was rubbed in this morning’s bacon grease, which is swept up messily in an orange scrunchy, circa 1994, that was found in the cabinet under the sink just this afternoon while on a mission to find paper towels. The poor creature will be toting the token puke bucket, and the always attractive torn, stained, blue sweat pants, and a look that says “oh kill me now”. You will stare in disbelief as you arrogantly decide you are the first to spot the elusive “sick mom”. You will be wrong. As you scan the seats next to her looking for caretakers you will spot it. Oh yes. The “sick mom” is not the patient. She is only there to comfort her “sicker” husband. The poor woman will wipe her husband’s brow and pat his back in between bouts of decorating her bucket with pieces of her intestine.

It’s sad, but true. It is a lesson I learned too recently. It has changed my view of the world. I feel like I’ve learned that there is no Santa for the second time. The wound is fresh and new. The multicolored patches all over the carpet in my home are my medals of honor. When I see them I stop to remember the horrors of the three-week virus, my moments of weakness, bravery and strength, and all the other mother’s “who have never been sick” before me.