Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mental Health Day

"My tummy hurts."
These are the three words I dread as a mom.  Choose any other part of the body to hurt as a child, and it can probably be repaired with a kiss and a bandaid.  
Maybe a couple of tylenols.  
But the stomach?  Tummy means trouble.
Like dominoes we went down one by one.  My school age child brought it home and my husband held out as long as he could, but eventually we all succumbed.  Normally being a mom and being sick isn't exactly harmonious.  Can we really ever have a sick day?  Sick means I can’t really indulge in my own well being, I still have to take care of everybody else.  It is the very definition of being a mother- no sick days.  However, this time it was bad.  Broke my washing machine doing laundry, bad.  I had to call in the calvary (ie my own mother) for support.
When she agreed to come, I wasn’t really full on sick yet.  I entertained the brief thought of perhaps being able to take advantage of the opportunity of having my mother here.  I dreamt of getting whole chapters of my newest WIP revised in between bouts of sickness.  
I think that is in the mother’s DNA.  Even when we are at our worst, we can think of something that needs to be done.  The reality of the situation was much less pleasant, in which I spent most of my time sleeping with my head next to the bathroom toilet, or trying to sip a disgusting concoction called happy belly.
It took a few days before my belly could be anywhere near happy again.
When I was conscious and not concentrated on immediate physical needs, I would stare at the ceiling for long spaces of time.  My brain hurt too much to try and concentrate on revisions, but it didn’t keep the voices out.  I began to hear long streams of character dialog.  I had a delirious breakthrough in my plot line.  
Then I fell asleep.
When I woke again the ideas were still there, and after a quick trip to the bathroom, I jotted them in my notebook.  It was right around this time that I thought I should call out sick more often.  Being quarantined seems to spark creativity in me.  With the lack of distractions and pressures on my time, I could really hear my characters.  Obviously I knew this on a somewhat subconscious level, since my best writing comes when all my children are far, far away from me.  
“Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.” Paul Tillich
It’s a fine line isn’t it?  I long for the day when my children will all be in school.  Fantasize about the long stretches of time I’ll have to write.  I feel I need a little bit more of the glorious side of solitude in my life.

For now I’ll settle for a sick day once in a while.



  1. Love this! I definitely feel your pain. I'm two weeks away from having my second child and I could really use a calvary right about now. I love being a full-time mom but I'm also looking forward to a little more solitude once the kids hit school age. I daydream about all the writing I'll get done. Or laundry. I'll probably end up doing laundry.

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