One mother’s view from the sick bed

The Covington News - - SUNDAY LIVING -

This week’s in­stall­ment comes to you from my sick bed. Oh, how the mighty mom has fallen. I can’t blame my kids this time — they’re healthy as horses. I have a fever, sore throat and my stom­ach is rid­ing a roller coaster even though I’m sit­ting per­fectly still.

My lit­tle one, Eli, just bounced across my bed. When I asked him to stop, he frowned with con­cern.

“Do you feel like you have to frow up?”

When I nod­ded, he shrugged. “Well, just go into your bath­room an’ frow up then.” I wish it were that easy. I’ve had an aver­sion to vomit for as long as I can re­mem­ber. My stash of pre­scrip­tion nausea med­i­ca­tion is more pre­cious than gold, and the minute I’m fin- ished writ­ing, I’m pop­ping one and go­ing to sleep. Just last night, be­fore I fell sick, I took a stress test on Oprah.com. It was an eerie pre­dic­tor of my near fu­ture. It’s com­mon knowl­edge that stress not only weak­ens our im­mu­nity against germs but brings health prob­lems all its own.

I as­sumed my score of 41 fell nicely be­low mid-range on a scale of 1-100. Imag­ine my shock when I saw that any­thing over 35 was cause for se­ri­ous con­cern.

I’m in the cat­e­gory of those so stressed that they’re at risk for de­pres­sion, high blood pres­sure and heart dis­ease. It sug­gested mak­ing some ma­jor changes and that pro­fes­sional help might be needed to do so.

I don’t deny that I’m un­der a lot of stress. But like most moms, I con­stantly dis­miss it as a nor­mal part of 21st cen­tury life. It has been an un­usu­ally try­ing sum­mer, though.

My sweet grand­mother has needed more help from us re­cently. We are just ek­ing by fi­nan­cially, but we’re hope­ful that mov­ing across town to a less-ex­pen­sive house nearer my grand­mother will help ease th­ese con­cerns. Of course, a move is a huge source of stress it­self. We’ve dou­bled the chil­dren — and the clut­ter — through the years we’ve lived in this home. It’ll take a work crew and a cou­ple of bull­doz­ers just to un­cover what we need to pack.

Our dog died a few weeks ago, and our church dis­solved — some­thing that blind­sided us com­pletely. Some long-stand­ing friend­ships were dam­aged in the process, and it’s taken su­per­hu­man strength to not smack th­ese aliens who’ve re­placed our old friends. I’d have been less shocked if I’d come home one day and found my cats cook­ing sup­per. I just never saw it com­ing.

My chil­dren were dev­as­tated over los­ing their dog and their beloved church. They’re am­biva­lent over the up­com­ing move. One day they’re elated over get­ting new and im­proved bed­rooms. The next day, they’re cry­ing be­cause they don’t want to leave the only home they’ve ever known. Their stress hurts me more than my own.

To top it off, I turned 39 last week. That num­ber echoes the theme of my life right now: just hang­ing on by one skinny thread, dan­gling above the un­known.

Ev­ery­thing is be­ing shaken: my home, my friend­ships, my kids and ex­tended fam­ily. Thank heav­ens for an un­der­ly­ing faith that there’s a rea­son for the tri­als we en­dure.

If this col­umn res­onates with you, please join me in do­ing what we can to con­quer the stress mon­ster. There is a plethora of help avail­able to worn-out moms. We just have to ad­mit that we need it.

I’ll start with cash­ing in on a prom­ise to give my­self some down­time by hir­ing a babysit­ter a few hours a week. It seems there are al­ways a thou­sand other needs that trump per­ceived self-in­dul­gences such as hir­ing a sit­ter. But this time on my back has made me re­al­ize that if mama ain’t healthy, ain’t no­body healthy — men­tally or phys­i­cally. Eli just popped into my room again. “If I say I love you, does it make you feel bet­ter?” “Yeah, ac­tu­ally it does, buddy.” “Well then, I’m go­ing to stay here and say it over and over un­til you’re all bet­ter. I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you…”

He might be a source of stress some­times, but my boy sure knows how to heal me.

Kari Apted

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