Do you know where I've been this weekend? Sick in bed! That's right: actually in bed, sick. I had a bad cold last week, and then Friday night things went downhill fast: chills, fever, burning throat, hurting all over. On Saturday morning my parents took all the kids, and Paul took me to the urgent care office that has weekend hours. "Upper respiratory infection" does not seem adequate to describe how crappy I felt and still feel, and so I'm not sure there has been a correct diagnosis, but I am willing to give it a little time. After all, on Saturday morning I wasn't sure I could wait the one hour until my appointment, whereas today I am sitting at my computer complaining, so clearly things have improved.
I haven't been this sick since I had strep throat several years ago, and that time was a real bummer because Paul had it too, and so neither of us could stay in bed. Since then, Paul has been "sick enough to stay in bed" (that is, run-of-the-mill headcold) about a zillion times, and I have been "sick enough to stay in bed" (that is, sick enough to stay in bed) zero times. So this was an interesting opportunity for me to see just how things would run without me, and how things will run without me when I'm in the hospital having the baby.
Here is what happens. Paul does a good job in general: children are dressed and fed and alive, and they have fun. But even though I think of myself as a crappy housekeeper, it is clear from even two days' absence that I must be doing certain levels of cleaning that keep things from falling apart. After two days without me, the kitchen floor is covered in crumbs, and there are chunks of food that fell under the high chairs without being cleaned up. Dishes have been done and even put away, but they are gritty and/or greasy, and they are in the wrong cupboards. My pink-and-white spring towels have evidently been used to clean up some sort of industrial accident. The twins' teeth haven't been brushed. They had pizza one night and no one's clothes have been stain-treated. Rob and William played outside in the mud twice, and their caked, muddy clothes are sitting in the hampers, chunks of mud sifted all the way down through the rest of the clothes. Saturday's mail is sitting on the counter. Elizabeth had a dreadlock that took me fifteen minutes to pick out this morning, because that's what happens if her hair isn't combed three or four times a day.
But I did get to stay in bed. And there were only about two total interruptions of the "Where do we keep the...?" variety. And there was not one single "Oh, do you want to go in there to be with Mommy?" And those are valuable things indeed.
In some ways it's nice to know that things don't go perfectly without me. It makes me feel as if the work I do for the family is important, useful work that improves the quality of our lives. On the other hand, it's irritating to see how quickly so many things fall apart if I don't handle them, as if I'm somehow the only person equipped with the magical powers necessary to hang up wet towels. I remember this being the same in the workplace: it's nice to be missed, but annoying to come back to piles of work that no one else seemed able to figure out how to do--especially the things a hamster could have done.
Also annoying, both in the workplace and in the home: having to congratulate co-workers or a husband for managing to do even a small fraction of what you usually do. I made it a point to thank Paul several times for handling everything. My intent was to set a good example for the next time HE stays in bed all weekend and I have to handle everything. It is hard to tell, though, when I'm "setting a good example" and when I'm "reaffirming that all of this is my job and he's a total hero to handle anything at all."
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...