I'm not one of these martyr parents who likes to wax poetic about all the sacrifices I've made for my kids. Life with kids doesn't seem so entirely different from life without them, except there's more stuff you need to do for other people, and less time.
It didn't take parenthood to make me a multi-tasker. I'm good at that and always have been. I have an aversion to sitting still and to too many consecutive hours of sleep. So on days like yesterday, when I'm sneezing and hacking all over the place, it seems like a long shot to imagine calling in sick, even after I fell asleep last night at 8:30, before both of my kids, a feat so rare that they were both concerned that maybe aliens had taken over my body. But then they forecast this big snowstorm for today (ooh! 10 inches of snow! what an anomaly for this sunny clime...), and I decided that wouldn't be the best time to go out with my sick self to the office. After calling someone at work to find out the call-in number, because it's been so damn long since I've done it, I actually claimed a sick day.
And then, you know, I went to the gym at 5:45 this morning. And did laundry. And made chicken enchiladas and chocolate chip cookies from scratch. And cleaned. And walked to a store to get stuff for my daughter's upcoming birthday. Yeah, I took a half hour nap and I took a bath. But this is how moms DO sick days, right? Hell, there's shit that needs getting done.
There's always shit that needs getting done. Shit needed to get done during m-effing CHEMO, and let me tell you I DID that shit. On days when I could barely stand I was going to work and picking kids up from daycare and doing chores around the house and even having sex for chrissakes and then I would just go puke quietly or collapse from exhaustion or whatever. I did all that shit and I wasn't even eating FOOD, people. I would eat fistfuls of frosted flakes and raw spinach and call it a night.
Shit needed to get done after surgery too, when this lady couldn't move her goddamn ARM. I couldn't raise my arm, and three days after surgery I called in a telecommuting day and used my gimpy half-working right hand to type a goddamn ARTICLE, something that got published shortly thereafter. Shit needed to get done during radiation, when I was all burned and surviving on 45 minutes of sleep a night for months on end due to having hot flashes every 10 minutes all day and all night from chemo-induced menopause. I would take my bald self over to do some pilates and then cook a multi-course meal for my family. Shit needs to get done after childbirth, when you're worried you might lose your job, when people you love die, when there's weather.
So. I get shit done and rarely feel the need to claim it or talk about it--just like everyone else who knows what adulthood is.
I work full time, and I'm the main breadwinner in the sense that I make more money than my husband. He goes to the kiddy birthday parties and the park and leaves his job earlier than he should to see the kids. But I do almost all the cooking and cleaning. He's out there right now sledding with the kids and later he'll be shoveling all the snow, but you know what? I walked my snot-nosed coughing little behind literally BACKWARDS UPHILL THROUGH THE SNOW to pick my daughter up from the bus stop. I'm sick and the weather's challenging and the walk that would normally take 8 minutes took all of 11 so that made me feel kind of pathetic with the laziness.
It's all in a day, and you do it, and you figure someday everyone will look back and remember that you got shit done.
Because you're living a paltry-ass LIE, I tell you.
After carrying her backpack in the door and helping her out of the snowboots and wet pants and into dry clothes, after putting out the homemade cookies as a snack and sitting with her while she did her homework, I asked her if there was anything in her backpack, any notices from school or anything, that I should see. And then, my daughter, the girl who is currently a Student of the Month, gave me a stack of past homework, all 100% ok fine, and said, "here mom, you might want to see this one."
It was a little story packet called "The Tundra," a story and worksheets about the goddamn permafrost and ground squirrels and shit. Why does she want me to read this? I wondered. Oh wait, here it is. The last question in the packet: "Would you visit the tundra? Why or why not?" And do you know how this child answered that question? DO YOU?!
"No. My mom would sleep all day and we would have to eat sandwiches for days."