The reality of a sick day for a parent is far from what we imagine when we anticipate staying home and recuperating.
It starts with the phone call or text to inform the appropriate person that you will be absent for illness. I always seems to debate this internally for a long while ...
Do I really seem sick enough to miss work? Am I being considerate to my coworkers by not spreading contagions around the office? Is a day of rest and liquids more important than my presence on that particular day? Are my kids going to drive me batty if they stay at home with me or should I throw my jacket over my pj's and drive them to school!?
And then the "sick day" starts by staying in pajamas for longer than usual, carrying your pillow to the couch armed with classics like The Matrix or Dawn of the Dead. Settling in with a lukewarm glass of Gingerale and a handful of crackers, and dozing off throughout the day with a box of Kleenex, or Halls or paper-towel lined ice cream bucket or whatever "equipment" you may need for that particular ailment.
Oh wait, that doesn't sound quite right.... right, I'm a parent. I now have a slightly different scenario, and plans are altered.
The day begins with a list of necessities.
Snacks and breakfasts; anything quick and easy, finger food and minimal cooking involved, cubes of cheese and cracker platters, sliced pickles and baby carrots.
Entertainment: favourite movies or cartoons, handheld video games and the toys you save for special occasions (I always have a rotation of toys yet unopened).
Atmosphere: conducive to sleep, soft lights, lots of blankets, heat set just a little warmer than usual to stimulate drowsiness. If all goes well and according to plan as it always does...(laugh out loud) it becomes a sleepy, content, mesmerizing day.
Kids eat until they're full, cuddle into cozy positions and generally stay content, allowing for the sick parent on duty to curl up nearby, sip hot tea or tepid water, and doze with one eye/ear open. Which is absolutely crucial, as any parent of a preschooler can tell you that permanent markers will magically appear just as you let down your guard.
The sick day for me always comes with a measure of guilt though and I find myself doing housework in between resting. The nagging thought of "Just tidy the mantle while I wait for the tea" or "Clean off this shelf in the fridge while I get the orange juice"... Odd jobs seem to miraculously complete themselves in sporadic five-minute periods.
So as I write this and try to keep my sanity during this never-ending cycle of rest, clean, chase and feed, I'm quite glad to be an at-work mom most days.