Tuesday, November 09, 2004

She Pays For My Day

I should have known that mental health day was going to come bite me in the ass. Shouldn’t I have known? It must be karma or something. Well, I don’t really believe in karma, so it must be God punishing me for telling a dirty, nasty lie about my daughter’s health. And I definitely deserve it.

Don’t I know yet that every time I lie that my daughter is sick, she will get sick days later?

I was having a hard time falling asleep last night. It was getting later and later and still I hadn’t been able to summon the elusive (to me) sleep gods. But finally sometime after midnight, I found the perfect position, propped my pillow just so, arranged my blankets around me and felt my body relaxing toward a deep, restful, though short, sleep when karma and/or God decided to have a little fun with me. I was jerked from my semi-conscious state with a cough, cough, cough and a cough, cough, cough, this time louder and more intense. The coughs are so miserable in sound and followed by an even more miserable set of whimpers and last of all a weak uttering of “momma.” The sounds warred with my desire to roll over, put a pillow over my head and hope it all goes away, but then the mother in me settled that battle, and I dragged myself out of bed and into Audrey’s room, the source of the miserableness.

“Mommeeee, I neeeeeed waterrrrrrrr, cough, cough cough.” Her face was scrunched up with tears streaming from her eyes and snot from her nose. I padded into the kitchen to fill her request as well as to find some cough syrup. I brought her both but could cajole her only into taking a wee sip of both, and I wasn’t in the mindset to tousle with her. My mind was growing fuzzy with fatigue, so I gave her hugs and comfort and asked her if she wanted me to lay down with her. She nodded her head in that way kids do when they know they are being spoiled because they are sick, and I lay beside her.

She rolled over and I struggled to get comfortable. Her bed is pretty – an antique iron head and footboard double bed size – but it is just too darn short for me. I couldn’t stretch out my legs, which is normally fine since I sleep in a fetal position most of the time, but the knowledge that I couldn’t straighten my legs because of that footboard was taunting me. I was tossing and turning and keeping Audrey awake. Finally I willed myself to hold still, hung my feet off the side of the bed and waitied for Audrey to fall asleep. I could literally feel the minutes ticking by. Her coughs grew less and less frequent and soon her breathing became smooth and regular, so I slid out of her bed as quietly as I could and then proceeded to trip over her toy vacuum cleaner, the hose somehow managing to wrap itself around my leg.

Audrey jerked awake, “Momma?”

“Honey, Momma’s okay,” I said, clutching the sore toe, “I just need to go to my room now, all right?”

There wasn’t an answer. I can’t tell you how relieved I was as I limped back to my room. I eased myself back into bed, pulled the covers around me and scrunched into a ball, forgetting the once intense longing to stretch out.

But of course, it wasn’t as easy as all that, of course I didn’t actually get to enjoy the soft caresses of sleep that began to soothe my body back into unconsciousness. Less than two minutes passed before the coughing began again. And so it was that I spent the majority of my night in a cycle of soothing Audrey and nearly falling asleep. Some time near morning both Audrey and I did manage to fall asleep, and when I woke up to the alarm radio blaring the Tom Lycus show (I have no idea how my radio got on that station), there was Audrey, asleep on my floor, curled into a blanketless ball, head propped on one of my pillows that had fallen to the carpet sometime during the night. I lay watching her sleep on the floor. She seemed so peaceful, so content. I didn’t want to wake her and make her go to school. Heck I didn’t want to be awake.

I tossed around ideas of calling her in sick, but wondered what the bosses would think this time, besides I think one of my co-workers saw me writing about my mental health day (where I mention that it was a horrible lie), so I was afraid that she might say something (I really shouldn’t write this stuff at work). I thought of calling and saying that she had a doctor appointment and I would be a couple of hours late, so that she could catch up on her sleep. Finally I just decided to get up, take a shower and let her sleep in until the last possible moment. Though she really was sick this time, I couldn’t figure out how to make this absence seem legitimate after the illegitimacy of my mental health day, so I took my poor, sick daughter into school, and have been calling Sam ever since to try to get him to call in sick and retrieve her from daycare. So far I am only getting his voice mail.

Poor Audrey. I really am a dreadful mother.

*Update* Sam finally called me back and arranged for his brother to pick Audrey up from daycare. I only had to swear at him twice.
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