Lessons from Motherhood: Writing While Sick

Lesson from Motherhood #1: You get no days off.

Yes, you get the occasional night out, or even a childless vacation. But in those cases you are away, not off. Even when on vacation there’s the daily check-in, perhaps a phone call to say good night before bed, and the inevitable question or two that the babysitter has about what the child is allowed to do or not do, etc. And, of course, if there is an emergency, anything you had planned goes out the window and you race home. So, a parent is never off duty.

Which brings us to Lesson from Motherhood #1A: You don’t get sick days.

Now, this is a little more flexible than Lesson #1. When I had surgery that kept me off my feet for several days, my wonderful mother-in-law came and stayed with us so someone could look after Preschooler while Hubby was at work. And I remember one day a couple of years ago, I had a stomach bug with fever and was facing a full day home alone with a rambunctious 2-year-old. As I watched my husband get ready for work, I burst into tears because I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Hubby was a trooper and stayed home.

But except in extreme cases like that, if you’re sick, you still have to show up. Your child still needs to be fed and clothed and entertained. When they are babies it is both better and worse—better because they are not mobile and they sleep a lot, worse because they need you to do EVERYTHING for them. Now I have a Preschooler, and I often say the only thing worse than her being sick while I am well is me being sick when she is well. So much energy! So many questions! So few naps! Still, she is old enough now to understand that I am sick and be helpful in some ways—and not need me to do so much for her. But I still need to take her to and from school and feed her, at the very least.

So you learn to soldier on. To just get up and power through even if you feel crappy. Illnesses where, pre-child, I would have simply curled up in bed for a day or two and pampered myself, now I’m up and about and getting things done.

Which brings me to writing (you were wondering when I’d get here, weren’t you?). Sometimes you get sick, and you have deadlines. You have to power through. You have to get the words out. You have to make the deadlines. There are extreme cases, of course, but most of the time, you need to carry on. And being a mommy has shown me that I really can push through all but the worst illnesses and still get done what needs doing.

Of course, even as you are pushing through, it is good to marshal your reserves as much as you can. So yesterday, even though I had so much to do, when my daughter took a rare nap, so did I. We both slept for a much-needed two hours.

And I still hit all three of my deadlines.

What do you do when you’re ill and need to write? Any tricks for relief to share?

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  1. Like they say in the movies the show must go on. I made a commitment to submit a blog every week for a promo tour, and I made all the deadlines. There’s what I call “easy” write and “hard” write. Blogs for me come easy, and so does certain editing jobs. These are the jobs I can do if I’m sick. But that nap goes a long way into helping me power through. After I’ve recuperated, then I tackle the “hard” jobs, meaning rewrites and such. I did try to do rewrites while recuperating from surgery, and well, with painkillers on board, things got interesting.
    Barbara of the Balloons

    • I know what you mean about easy and hard writing. Luckily, two of my three deadlines were blogs, so I had an easier time of it. And you are not the first writer to warn against the perils of writing while on pain meds or cold meds! LOL!

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