I approached this half term with some trepidation. Not because of a week with my kids; I was rather looking forward to that. I was anxious that ill health would get me again. I’ve recently had three bouts of tonsillitis (bacterial; the type with raging fevers) in eight weeks and developed tinitus. The last two school holidays have seen me laid up, on meds, unable to parent at times and if I can, just bloody exhausted. My illnesses led also to time off work which I always find stressful. It reminded me of the following rant I wrote down when in my first bout of tonsil raging, feverish hell. I thought I’d share it.
I’m lying on the sofa, on my side. My head propped up so that the bicarbonate drops I’m pouring into my ear will travel down. I’m also coughing quite viscously, which apart from making my tonsillitis hurt (a lot), also has me wondering; is it more important to let the drops do their job or to sit up and breathe air…..I’m not very well. I’m feeling rather sorry for myself.
I’m also staring to worry about work. Today I should have started back for the new term. I absolutely couldn’t have worked today and doubtful for tomorrow. But I’ve just remembered an event on in two days that I’m meant to be in charge of. It’s such a regularly horrible dilemma; how much do I give of myself to work to remain a good professional, someone people will remain respectful of and wish to be a colleague of. And if I don’t allow myself this time will I get better or will I too soon again collapse with something? Because I have three great children to parent and nurture and that’s definitely something I haven’t done any of in last four days.
I know that working parent guilt is a widely known truth and often talked about but really can I just shout “its SHIT! ” And when I say ‘working’ can I be clear that I mean any parent doing something as well as parenting.
Currently I work every day but term time only. I’ve done this for two and a half years now in a swap with my husband, so that he could have a chance at better things for himself.
I’ve been iller in the last two and a half years than even before. What does that tell me? Because two days ago lying in my bed full of fever feeling like I’m never going to feel better, not even having the motivation to see my children, I thought a lot (all be it a little deliriously) about why I get so ill now. I figure that it’s not worth it, that it sucks for everyone and if work/life balance is to blame then what do I need to do?
But whilst simple answers may be calling out: “cut down working hours”, “look at a swap with husband”, none of them are actually simple to get a handle on. For a start we can’t afford things now, let alone with two of us part time. And for an end, if I ask us to swap roles back then I might be happy and healthier but my husband won’t.
Perhaps with another day or two of medication things will feel simpler (I’ll just except that the next few days recuperation will include feelings of anxiety about when to call work and what they are all thinking).
So thankfully good health does provide a more realistic and forgiving view. I’ve got through this halfterm unscathed and well and have enjoyed every day with my kids (this should probably read enjoyed a part of every day!).
What does happen though is when I’m at work I am trying to develop and that means taking on more challenges which can feel good……. Until I come home and snap at my children who simply want my positive attention at the end of the day, or worse spend weekends and holidays getting ill.
When I’m on holiday or have a weekend I make plans with the kids to try new hobbies or have friends to play or I aim to develop our home and take on DIY projects or gardening and return to work resentful and not rested.
Is my health a sign that this is not balance, that my happiness is not optimum and half terms will always be a struggle? I know I’m one of so many women in this situation. When laid up ill it was amazing girlfriends who bought my homemade chicken soup an a magazine.
All advice is welcome.
In the mean time I will return to work tomorrow and after a day or two we’ll settle back into some kind of routine (and I’ll ignore that slight ache in my throat).