Raise your hand if you ever envied your sick child’s excused day of lying on the sofa watching cartoons and napping.
OK, so I’m the only one?
No? You say you have felt that way, too? You have been burning the candle at both ends until there’s no wick left and you still haven’t found a way to extinguish the flame?
A week ago today I came home from a business trip to Pittsburgh to find Carlton vomiting. Welcome home. I can’t really complain because Carla had been dealing with it all day. The 24-hour stomach virus ended up lasting 72 and required at least four changes of bed linens. Seriously. Four.
The kid would run around all day without a symptom. He would go 18, 20, even 24 hours without vomiting and we would think we were home free. Then he would fall asleep at night, completely exhausted. Several hours into my own REM cycle, his cries would send us scrambling to his room where the evidence of his illness hit our nostrils before our eyes could adjust in the darkness. It was not remotely pleasant.
But Carlton was sick during the weekend. It was such a relatively busy weekend that I didn’t have time to envy him. Carla and I juggled him as we kept up our pace – she bought groceries, I went to a deacon’s meeting, she took Barron to youth group, I took Harris’ Cub Scout den bowling, and on and on, back and forth. We didn’t slow down at all.
Monday came and Carlton cleared the 24-hour hurdle. He was pronounced cured, so he could return to preschool on Tuesday. Carla’s day of teaching preschool was not threatened. We held our breath, hoping that our mandatory household hand-washing regimen and antibacterial wipe-down of every surface was enough to keep the scourge at bay.
Alas, at 3 a.m., Harris was knocking on our bedroom door giving off that now all-too-familiar malodorous clue that something was amiss. The cycle was repeating.
Fortunately, my two meetings of the day were such that I could phone in, and my very understanding supervisor permitted me the opportunity to work from home. This allowed Carla to carry out her plans for her preschool class without having to get a substitute, and everything else was fairly normal.
Harris was no distraction at all. After about 10 a.m., there were no more symptoms. He simply lay on the sofa with “Tom & Jerry” dueling in front of him. He ate a couple of crackers and drank a juice pouch at about 2 p.m. and seemed to perk up a little.
As I stood there conducting my visual scans for any hint of his condition an unfiltered thought burst into my consciousness: “Wow, I wish I could be sick.”
What? No. I didn’t mean that. No one would wish to have the awful stomach bug. It had completely paralyzed our family a couple of years earlier when we all shared it. That experience was seared into my memory. I couldn’t possibly want another dose of that.
I edited myself.
“What you meant to think was ‘I wish I could have a sick day.’”
See, public relations people even put words in their own mouths.
It’s not that work is overwhelming. I’m thoroughly enjoying my new job, and the challenges and fresh problems to solve and new people to meet have been invigorating.
It’s not that I don’t believe in service to my church. Serving as a deacon is a privilege, and every interaction with the families I care for is sacred and brings me closer to my community and to God.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy serving as a Cub Scout den leader. Those boys with their boundless energy and endless curiosity love tackling new challenges together and learning new skills.
It’s just that sometimes it all has to stop in order for me to get my bearings again. You know what I’m describing, right? It’s like when you’ve got nine browser windows open with at least two of them streaming sports highlights and one playing country music and your computer can’t process the data fast enough so the machine just locks up.
The real truth is that our bodies do the same thing. Whether it’s a head cold or a stomach flu or exhaustion, if we don’t have the good sense to slow down and rest, our bodies will force down time on us.
Rest is fleeting in the New South. Busy is the norm.
My wish for all of you is that it doesn’t take a sick day for you to find some down time. In fact, you should go ahead and plan on it right now. Go ahead. Put it on your calendar. Find a day. You need it more than you realize.
If you don’t, your body will.
If you couldn’t relate at all to today’s post, then great. You are a better person than I am. But if you have ever been jealous of your sick child because they got to rest, then you’ve got a problem. Share your story by leaving a comment below, and then go take a nap. You’ll feel better. I promise.