Mommy-Flu by Sandra Beck, Motherhood, Incorporated


By Sandra Beck


“Have you been feeling tired and run down” asked the doctor, palpating my neck glands.

I looked back at her blankly. “No, I don’t think so,” I finally answered “not when you take into account that my toddler is still waking three times a night, and I’m on my feet from dawn ‘til dusk.”

In December we got hit by a winter virus. My brother who was staying with me hollylay in bed shivering, unable to do more than weakly lift his hand to browse the internet.  It was ‘Man-flu’, no mistake.

He faintly acknowledged the breakfast I’d brought up to him, and watched me plump up the pillows. “I blame you, you know” he said thoughtfully “You’re never quite ill, you’re never quite well. I think you incubate mega-strength angry germs”. “Ill-schmill!” I muttered back under my breath. “I don’t have time to be ill”. Then I paused for a coughing fit that brought up a lump of phlegm the size of a golf ball.

The one time I’ve been incapacitated with illness was truly frightening. I was in charge of the kids, and I was afraid I’d drop the toddler and fall down the stairs myself.

I find I take very little time off work ‘sick’. Since I work at home 6 days a week – and have a work laptop – I find I always plump for eyestrain, carpel tunnel and a bad back from typing in bed while my kids sleep beside me. Perhaps I’m saving my Karma, anticipating needing time off with kiddy bugs and illnesses.

It worked against me when I was pregnant. I went through a patch mid-pregnancy where I was on bedrest. My view was ‘my pregnancy – my problem”.  I soldiered on as best as I could, not wanting to burden the company I worked for at the time with feeling guilty or worried about me. All I earned for my stoicism was a comment on my appraisal “I felt you took your foot off the gas a bit at that point” . Harumph. Heroism doesn’t pay.