Sick days. Every mother dreads them. As a child I loved sick days - I got to spend the whole day watching movies, reading books, and staying home from school in a house so quiet I could hear the furnace blower echo through the emptiness. My mom would lay me down on the couch, put a bowl next to me, turn on whatever movie I wanted to watch and then leave me to my own personal party. It was great.
As a mother, sick days are something else entirely. If you're lucky, your sick day happens on a weekend and someone else is around to referee the children's fights, feed them, and keep them from playing dance party on your bed while accidentally kicking the baby off in the process. Then you can groan on your bed of pain and complain about how horrible you feel in order to shout down the rising guilt about leaving your poor husband, who has been working like a dog all week, to spend his one day off chasing children around the house.
But if it falls on a weekday, you're on your own until husband comes riding home on his white horse to rescue you.
So when the tell-tale ache in my joints that warns of impending doom started mid-morning this week, I thanked my lucky stars that it was Friday and I had enough time left to finish school, feed the children, and toss them into bed before I crawled into my own bed to begin the misery.
Luckily the children are getting old enough to amuse themselves and so played fairly happily that afternoon while I rested, waiting for Brandon to come home and rescue me. And this time I was smart enough to lay on the couch where there wasn't enough room for a dance party.
When the question of dinner came up, I drew a blank.
So Sophia and I brainstormed. Grilled cheese? We were out of bread. For the past three weeks. Macaroni and cheese? Nobody seems to like it anymore. Leftovers? We had that for lunch.
Sophia interrupted my less-than-attractive dinner choices, "What about scrambled eggs and cereal? We could do that! And I could make it! All by myself while you rest on the couch. I know how to make scrambled eggs!"
Not one to turn down any offer to make food I agreed, figuring that if she needed any help I would be close enough. So I got Joseph ready for bed and put him down before collapsing on the downstairs couch. Sophia busied herself in the kitchen. "Okay Kathleen, Mom said that I could be in charge. So you have to listen to what I say and do it, okay? Now help me get the eggs out of the refrigerator..."
Remembering the adage about sausage and legislation, I listened to a book on my iPod, reasoning that if someone really needed me, I'd know. Right about the time the boy confessed his love for the girl, Sophia padded into the living room and poked my shoulder. "Mom, could you put the season-salt on the eggs? I can't do that. And Kathleen needs you to pour the milk."
I walked into the kitchen to find three plates heaped with fluffy scrambled eggs next to three bowls filled with Marshmallow Mateys and three cups waiting for milk. Everyone was sitting at the table waiting to pray after I filled their cups and bowls. Sophia looked very satisfied with herself. Edwin looked excited to be eating cereal for dinner.
So I poured their milk, sprinkled seasoned salt over their eggs, and prayed with them. Then I headed back to the couch.
After dinner they put their dishes in the dishwasher and they all went upstairs. Kathleen came back downstairs, dressed for bed with teeth brushed. Sophia came downstair trailing an almost-naked Edwin and gave me his pajamas, his toothbrush and the toothpaste. After I brushed Edwin's teeth and dressed him, I instructed him to go wash his hands at the kitchen sink. Sophia interrupted me, "he doesn't have to do that, Mom. I already washed his hands and had him use the bathroom."
So I sent them off to play until Dad came home to put them to bed. And enjoyed my sick day, one day earlier than expected.