I overheard two mothers talking in Costa this morning. I think one of their friends must have been ill or something. One said to the other, “what would you do if you were a single mother, though, and you were ill? I mean, what would you do with the kid?”
S is 15 months old now, and I’m lucky that the worst I’ve had to deal with, illness-wise, is a bit of a cold, or a headache. The one day I had a monstrous migraine, S went to nursery and I was able to call in sick for work and sleep it off.
You can’t call in sick for parenthood though; especially when you’re a single parent.
The idea of getting properly ill, especially while S is still so young, scares the bejesus out of me. I have actual nightmares about it. What if I did get ill? What if I had to spend one or more nights in hospital? What would become of my beautiful girl?
In the early days, I was petrified that I would become ill in some way, and that her father would turn up and take her away.
Now I’d like to think I’m in a position where, if I ended up in hospital, he wouldn’t even know about it – and even if he did, would never have the nerve to rock up and try to take my child away.
But it still worries me.
And so, I just don’t get sick.
I think being a single mother has forced me to man up when it comes to illness. I can’t just laze about in bed all day if I feel a bit rubbish; S still need to be dressed, fed, and played with. There’s nobody else here that I can kick out of bed and ask, “can you just give me a few more hours’ sleep?” And so I kick myself out of bed, and I get on with it.
I take all sorts of supplements, religiously, so as to maintain some semblance of health. I try to exercise and stay active.
I have been very, very lucky not to have been seriously ill so far, and had to try and find ways to keep S cared for and safe.
Mostly, I try to stay positive mentally. I really think that makes all the difference. I don’t allow myself to think “oh, I feel a bit rubbish, I feel sick, I might be coming down with something…” I tell myself, “it’s just a niggle, drink more water, you’ll feel better.”
I’m interested to find out what other single parents think about this. Do you constantly worry about what would happen if you got ill? How do you deal with it when you are ill?