All I want to do is take a shower..
I'm writing this sitting on my bed, covered in ibuprofen, in desperate need of a shower. My hair is greasy, the covers are saturated in failed medicine-giving attempts and I feel like I'm losing my mind.
My poor son woke up screaming an hour ago, completely inconsolable - my child who is usually so adept at coping with illness, who can usually be easily distracted from his woes with a cup of milk or his favourite toy. My 21 month old baby was writhing on the bed, in pain, with his throat? I don’t know, too hot, too cold? Not wanting to be touched or soothed, just needing to scream out his pain and upset.
And little does he know, his Mummy feels exactly the same.
I know how lucky I am to have had a simple full-term pregnancy, to have a mostly healthy child with no ongoing medical conditions. I know with everything I have how lucky we are for that, but it doesn’t mean there aren't times that I find extremely difficult when my child is poorly. I never lose the sense of intense gratefulness for what I have, but sometimes life gets the better of me and I feel as if everything rational is picked away at until I hit that bottom line and the above ends up being the only thought that keeps me going.
Life isn't great right now. Archie's Dad works long hours and it's down to me to care for our son. I work, 3 days a week, but have been off myself for the past couple of weeks due to personal circumstances. They are understanding but I am not, I feel as if I'm failing.
I lost my brother a few years ago now. He passed away in his sleep in the early hours of January 7th, 2010 and it's been ingrained in my every thought and action ever since. Of course it would be, how do you pull yourself back from not being able to wake someone you love so much? It's possible to push it as far to the back of your brain as you can, to try and shut it away with a visualised door, but the door will never be fully closed, no matter how many pieces of imaginary furniture are pushed up against it.
When life is going well, when A is healthy and happy, what's behind that door still seeps into my conscious on a regular basis, like dribs and drabs or a slow leak. I'm happy but I worry, I know we all do as parents, but I can worry irrationally. I check A several times a night just to make sure he's still breathing; when I'm at work and A's Dad hasn’t replied to my text within minutes, the anxiety kicks in and every truly horrendous thought my brain is capable of thinking pops into my brain, it can be debilitating.
So when he's unwell, those feelings are magnified; the door opens a little bit more and the slow leak turns into a steady stream.
Beyond my capabilities of being a good parent, I struggle to function or stop to breathe. Every eventuality goes through my mind. But the good thing about it is beyond the forgetting to shower, and the exhaustion that matches having a newborn, is that my will is so strong as to not be swayed by anyone telling me that it’s just a virus, he’ll get over it in a few days. Every time I chose to ignore it and trust my instincts, and every single time I have been right. In the first instance, a ‘mild virus’ turned out to be raging tonsillitis and the second, scarlet fever.
I've survived the fallout of losing someone, the utterly debilitating life-changing experience that you don't think it's possible to live through. I feel for every single parent that has done it, because losing my brother was horrendous, but losing my child, is something I cannot even comprehend. There are many out there who have experienced it and have a strength that even I can’t understand, including my parents.
So, life is hard right now, but no matter how overwhelmed, stressed and upset I may feel, when my son smiles or holds out his arms to me, I know that we'll get through it and I hope that it will be ok, and being covered in sticky medicine and without a shower are simply not even things worth worrying about.
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