This past Saturday night some horrible virus jumped out of the bushes and attacked me. It started off with the sudden onset of a terrible sore throat and runny nose which then turned into fever and chills and then finally settled into my chest with really bad wheezing. I’m on the third day and still moving very slowly. The family stepped up and kept the house running and I’ve been trying to keep my distance, hoping against hope that I won’t spread this around to everyone else.
Being sick is really hard for me. I know it sounds crazy, but when I get sick I kind of feel like a failure. I’m failing my family. I’m being a burden. All the work is piling up. I’m just sitting here, or laying here, being a bum. Wasting my time. If I was a healthier person and took better care of myself, I wouldn’t be susceptible to viruses. (Even though I typically only get sick a couple times a year).
I’ve spent a lot of time just scrolling through Facebook. Which makes me feel even more like a bum. I have some intelligent books I could be reading. The only problem is my brain is so out-of-it that I can’t focus on anything. I decide that I will think through some issues that have been on my mind, and I can’t think. Everything has just checked out while my body fights to get better.
I feel useless.
A couple different friends posted this meme on FB
This really made me pause.
I am guilty of getting so caught up in the role of Mother that I forget that I am my own person. I forget that it’s ok to be human. It’s ok to have a sick day. It’s ok, and this one is really hard for me to grasp, to have goals that are unrelated to motherhood. Motherhood is so All-Consuming. It’s a role you take on and carry for the rest of your life. You never stop being a mom. And it’s such a heavy responsibility. You are shaping the lives of children. Your actions are going to have a big influence on these little human’s futures. It’s a heavy weight to carry.
There’s a bible verse, Matthew 11:28-30
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)
I feel very much that Jesus called me to be a mother. And according to him, when we are doing what he wants us to do, it will not be a heavy, overwhelming load.
So, what am I doing wrong? Maybe the problem is that I keep trying to do this job on my own strength instead of tapping into His Strength. Perhaps I somehow think that the fate of my children and our family rests solely on my shoulders. Instead of realizing God’s got my kids and he is more powerful than my weakness and my mistakes.
The other problem is I forget that I am a human being. A child of God. A valuable person. An individual worthy of respect and care. I forget. It’s so easy to disappear into the name Mom. It’s not even your own name. Other women share the same name. It’s a title. It’s a title that assumes you will become self-sacrificing, omniscient to the needs of the family, on-call twenty-fours hours a day. It’s really easy for Esther to slowly fade out into a memory. That person I was starting to become before I had children.
When I am sick, I have to step out of the Mom-role and just become Sick Esther, in bed. Maybe that’s why it’s so disconcerting. When my identity is completely wrapped up in my work as a mother and suddenly I can’t do that work, it sends me reeling.
The last several years, as I have worked my way through a long depression, I have been slowly doing the work of figuring out who Esther is again, outside of the mom role. Writing this blog is part of that journey. But, it’s really easy for me to slip back into I’m a Mom Only identity. I don’t realize it till things happen like sickness that knock me out of that role and I suddenly feel like a failure.
I need to post this meme really big on my wall somehow. A daily reminder that I am allowed to just be a person who happened to catch a virus, and just needs a little time in bed till she feels better.