15 April 2015

Why Moms Need Permission To Be Sick

A little while ago, we flew back from the Philippines, and I had a cold.

The next day, I took the kids grocery shopping and had to stop in the aisle and take a 5-minute nap on the handlebar of the cart. You can imagine what the kids were doing because I have no idea. Later that day, our houseguests arrived for their layover-in-Seoul visit. Things needed to be done.

I kept going.

And I kept getting worse.

Then, one morning I tried to rouse and realized I had no strength. "You're burning up," my husband said. No, I had things to do. "You're shaking," he said. No, I had to get my daughter to school. I had to make breakfast for my guests. I had to take care of my younger children. I had to--

Then he said it: No.

My stubbornness was shushed, and I felt myself breathe out in relief. I had permission to be sick.

Why is it so hard for us moms to give ourselves the health-attention we give to our kids and to our husbands--and even to our friends? Why can we say to others "get well soon!" but say to ourselves "tough it out"? Maybe . . .

  • We think nothing will get done (right) without us.
  • We think no one will take care of us.
  • We think there isn't time for us to "mother" ourselves.
  • We think taking care of ourselves is selfish.

But I realized a few things in my bout of bed-rest with the flu:

  • Things may not get done exactly as we would've done them, and that's okay. 
  • Given the opportunity, others do help. My husband stepped up big time. My children made their greatest attempts. (My littlest offered me her blankie. Now that is something!) My guests were golden--offering to help on their vacation. 
  • Really, if we don't look to our own health, it takes longer to get well. 
  • And--it's not selfish to take care of mommy too. Taking care of myself is part of my service to my family.

It's hard to be sick as a mom because we don't give ourselves permission to be still, to let the house go, to ask for or hire help, to allow the kids more screen time, to alternate takeout and cereal for dinner, and to cancel plans. In my mind, I thought it was strong of me to push through, but in reality, it wasn't time to be "strong." It was time to take shortcuts and to do less. It was time to heal.

That morning, my husband gave me a gift in telling me to get well first, to prioritize my health over my to-do list. And now I realize I may need to tell myself that in the future--because isn't that how we rearrange our days when others are sick? We zero in on that fever until it goes down. We choose to cuddle with a coughing toddler instead of folding laundry. But when we're the ones coughing, laundry wins? Hey now.

We need to give ourselves permission to be sick. 

{Maybe the point of this whole post was to heap gratitude on my husband for keeping us all alive for two weeks. And that would be fine--because he deserves it.}

Abide in Him,

What can you let go when sickness strikes? How does your routine rearrange--or how does it need to? 

Related articles you may also appreciate:
How My Exercise Dread Died
Staying Steadfast through the Go-Go-Go
Motherhood and the Blessing of Sight
How Friends Become Family Overseas


  1. I loved this post! I am not a mom yet (nor married), but I am a missionary teacher, involved in some outside ministries, and I sometimes slip into this same guilt trap (or I feel guilty for resting after a long work day, including when sick). my father, when skyping me, always reminds me- "Take care of self first, then you can take care of others." And we have to remember all the Bible verses about resting in God, taking His light yoke, being still because He is God. This could mean more than spiritual and emotional--indeed sometimes our spirits can only rest when our bodies have time to rest! And we have to treat our bodies like a temple...that must include taking good care of it when sick or tired.

    Loved hearing how your family stepped up and offered blankies. :)

    1. Yes! We certainly must look to the Bible, and the verses you shared are perfect. Thank you! Your father's advice is also wonderful--he is a wise man. :)

  2. This actually happened to me over the weekend. But it WAS really nice to lay in the bed for once and not feel guilty. As I started feeling better I was able to finish a book that I wanted to read. After a couple of days my husband did a great job but I was ready to take over again.
    This post was a great reminder that we need to step back and take care of ourselves when we get sick, and that it is also OK if things are not done right!

  3. I totally understand! I push through so much because I have a hard time letting go so thanks for this reminder. It's been a crazy 6 months since I've been sick and healing from a major car accident and I feel like I am going crazy. I so want to be normal and do everything I usually do, but after it became evident that this was going to be a long term thing, I let go of some things I didn't need to be holding so tightly to. It's funny how God sometimes has to pry things out of our hands even when they are His already. Thanks so much for sharing, Malia!
    -Sara, uncommongrace.net


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