What Happens when ‘Single Mum’ Gets Sick?

Posted by in Single Mum Life on August 17, 2011 0 comments

I came down with a bit of a sore throat today, one of those sore throats that ache your ears. I’ve been advised that the ear aches are just referral pain and that paracetamol and a touch of whisky will ease it. But what happens when I’m really sick? Who will look after me and my boys?
I had a big scare at the end of last year when my around 40 year old single mum next-door neighbour collapsed with a brain aneurism as she went out for a jog. Her ex-husband lived overseas and rarely saw their two children. She was lucky to have a very supportive boyfriend and the wider school community pitched in making meals, washing laundry, cleaning the house, etc. She was in hospital for about 3 weeks over Christmas, which was devastating for her family. She was lucky that she was with her boyfriend when it happened, as who knows if she would have survived. She’s still struggling now with headaches and still not completely fully functioning, but her support network is always around helping her.
The next scare I had was the early 30s neighbour next to her with husband and two children under three, started having headaches and was diagnosed with a brain tumour about 2 months ago. She had emergency surgery and now needs to be babysat by an adult 24/7 for the next six months. She has a team of mum, sister and husband looking after her, she can’t drive and feels completely useless not being able to do what she used to do. But she sees it as temporary, so she doesn’t let it get her down.
As for me, I’ve had two fainting scares in the past 6 months. I fainted at my son’s swimming lesson smacking my head against a toilet rim, needing x-rays to see if my nose was broken, and again on a flight from Sydney to San Francisco where I was whisked off in an ambulance to get the all-clear to keep flying domestically. It’s scary when you have to put your kids in an adult position to look after you because there is no one else.
So as a single mum, you have to teach your children how to fend for themselves. If you are lying in bed with the flu, can they cook themselves some dinner? Can they do the dishes or put them in the dishwasher? Can they put a load of washing on when you’ve vomited all over your bed clothes and you’re too weak to do it yourself? Can they do their entire daily routine without you hounding them? It does all depend on the age of your kids, but really, it’s never to early to start teaching them. My 10 year old was making his 12 month old brother breakfast at the age of three – throwing a couple of Weetbix into a bowl and a splash of milk which was never enough, but he tried and it was so sweet that he was considering his brother at such a tender age.
For those who know me, I get no support from my boys’ father – not now and never when we were married and my family live too far away to actually help. I have an amazing group of friends in the school community who are happy to help when I need them, but sometimes I’m too proud to ask because I haven’t the time to reciprocate running my own business and being the sole parent. And that’s hard for me.
So, as I sit here feeling sorry for myself with my sore throat, sniffles and aching ears, I think myself lucky to know that my boys will look after me with the day-to-day running of the house and that I am grateful that I haven’t had it as bad as my neighbours – some have it worse, some have it better, but in reality, as mums, we know that we always need to soldier on no matter how sick we are.