I was really sick with a terrible stomach bug right after the New Year last month. It was bad. It came on quickly and hit me so hard that I was barely out of bed for more than 20 minutes for at least three days. Then the after effects lasted about a week or so, as the stomach yucky-ness went through my family of four.
It wasn't a pretty sight. I'm sure you all can relate, this winter seems to be pretty bad with sickness, especially for those of us with kids.
One of the bad sick days, I was literally in bed all day long. I only got up to use the bathroom and drink something a few times. Thank goodness my husband took over with the two kids. I was not able to be Mom that day at all.
I don't remember a time I couldn't at least do some of my mother duties. When my son was about 10 months old I got really sick with the norovirus, it was not pretty either, but I still could pump breastmilk and sit him in his high chair for food, even give him a bath and change diapers. It wasn't fun or easy, but I could do it. Whereas this winter, I seriously couldn't do anything. I was weak and dizzy.
People go through much worse than a stomach bug, I am not trying to get sympathy here. What I'm trying to explain is that I was not able to be the mom I wanted to be for my kids, or the wife who usually knows everything and cleans everything and has a Special Way of doing everything (aka control freak, admittedly). I was physically not able to do it. And mentally, I don't think I even cared for a second.
This not caring about the details momentum I found gave me SO much to think about when I got better. When you're sick, tired, just not feeling it, you give in to being helped, typically. You surrender, so to speak. You can't possibly care about if the kids got a bath that day (like you would have done of course) when you feel so awful yourself.
This taught me a lot about my husband. He's always been this guy who helps me TONS. I don't have one of those guys who thinks household chores or laundry folding or kids bathing or changing diapers is a Woman's Job. No way. I wouldn't tolerate it anyway, but I'm so incredibly grateful that we have a good teamwork thing going on here. He helps with everything. So when I was sick, it was sorta normal for him to take over with the kids and everything in the house.
He didn't do a lot of it the way I'd do it though.
He stacked the kids' plates in the cupboard instead of standing them up slanted like I do.
He didn't bathe them when I think it was their "day" to bathe.
He gave them too much sugar, probably left the TV on longer than we usually do.
I think they stayed outside in the snow a bit longer than I'd have wanted, worried they'd get a cold.
I don't know if my daughter got to the potty "on time" or not.
So many women complain, criticize, judge, glare at even the way their partners do things. It's not "right" or "perfect" or "how I'd do it."
Guilty, right?! We all are from time to time.
And I think that comes from a good place, from caring so much about our kids, thinking we have to possibly be right about how we care for them since it's their lives in our hands we're talking about here. WE can't be wrong on that, can we?
So sometimes our Mama Bears inside come out a little too strongly. Like yesterday when my husband was cutting the strawberries in a certain way for my son's birthday party and I was thinking "Um, no, they should be cut this way so that the toddlers at the party can easily eat them." He had a totally different take on it. Who really cares, right?! We all do sometimes a little too much, because we CARE. Not about what others think, but about making kids' experience great, fun, easier, happy and enjoyable.
Sometimes we need to take the back seat though, ladies, that's what I learned from being sick last month.
Sometimes we need to trust that our kids' other parent, aunts, uncles, grandparents, babysitters, teachers, etc. are doing it just FINE, maybe not perfect like we would possibly manage to do, but they are still taking care of our babies. It's fine to let it go sometimes, move on, give up control. I know we all need this reminder - including myself - so that's why I think it's important to write about today.
My husband stacked the plates instead of standing them up on the shelf. I'd never thought to do that. And you know what? It works MUCH better that way. Huh. He was right!
It's a silly little thing, the plates situation in my house, but honestly it's what it all comes down to in parenting - a bunch of silly little things that we think are HUGE decisions and that we feel mean so much in the long run, when sometimes they really just don't mean that much at all.
While I was sick and my husband was in charge, he didn't do a few things but he did a lot of greater things, too. With Dad, our kids got to play board games and puzzles that I'd never even thought to take off the shelf. My daughter wore a dress I'd been "saving for a nice time" and felt so pretty she was dancing all around the kitchen. My son picked out a shirt I'd said was too big for him... and it fit when Dad put it on him. They took a longer bath than I usually give them, I'm all business and let's get to the next time. Dad was way more fun during bubble bath time, putting in way more bubbles than I usually think to add.
Quite frankly, Dad handled being On Duty. Just fine. Without me.
We do this a lot in our house, where he takes charge, then I do, then it's 50-50, whatever. It's not all up to me around here. But, my schedule allows me to be with the kids more than he is so sometimes I do take charge of things. But on these sick days, he was IT and he did GREAT.
I learned from being sick and having to rely on others to take care of my kids that it's OK to NOT be Super Mom, doing it all. It's OK if the dishes sit a few days longer or the bed sheets didn't get changed on Saturday like usual. It's acceptable to lay around and read and play and watch another movie when you're feeling sick instead of doing craft projects or cooking some delicious meal that took hours to bake in the oven.
It's all OK. I say that often on this blog - it's all OK. It's fine to be who we are as mothers, to meet our families where they are at, to see our kids for who they are, to accept defeat sometimes, and to let go of the stupid Mama Guilt. We're all doing our best. And that's just perfect for our littles.
As for your partners, accept how they do it. Accept that it won't be how you'd do it, nobody does it like you do it, that's what makes you the Super Mom that you are. You ARE great and awesome and probably, if we had to debate it, YOU would win and be RIGHT and more awesome-r than your partner or whoever else cares for your kids.
But here's the thing, moms, this is not a competition. It's not about finishing first and accomplishing things better than others.
It's about doing what works, today, in the moment, and learning from our mishaps. It's about accepting HELP.
So the next time you start to speak up and criticize or question how your partner is doing something - bathing, dressing, feeding, playing with, etc. - your child, take a breath and observe first. Is it hurting anyone? Is it detrimental to the child's health or wellbeing? Probably not. So let it go. Then ask yourself what might hurt to hear the answer to: Am I just trying to be in control right now or the person who is right? If the answer is yes... just acknowledge it and move on.
The worst thing that might happen is that your partner fails. He doesn't do it "right," but nobody is going to be hurt. You'll swoop in and make it better, no issues, if need be. So let him try it. Let her take the lead. It's ALL OK.
For the record: My husband did an AMAZING job taking care of all four of us while I was sick, the house looked amazing, he actually re-organized half our kitchen and our closets in our bedroom while I was sleeping! Our kids got baths, multiple ones, were well-fed and played and read stories and had a blast with their dad. They missed me, but they were loving doing things differently.
Life in a mom's house is much easier and happier when everyone contributes, has a say in how things are done, and are appreciated.
Remember that, ladies, it's good to accept help and to let someone else take charge once in a while.