What Does a Mom’s “Sick Day” Look Like?

Maybe it’s an evolutionary side effect of being the ones who give birth to and nourish our offspring, but in case you haven’t noticed, women are tough. And fortunately for everyone else in the house, we don’t get sick. I mean, yeah, we do actually get sick, but when you’re in charge of caring for a family, there’s no time to act sick. So, most of us soldier on and take care of our usual tasks, even when we’re not feeling 100%. This is not to say that men can’t operate under the same conditions, but let’s just say that women do it with considerably less whining a bit more grace.

The following is a true account of a recent “sick day” that I had.

Friday, 5:15 A.M.

My alarm goes off as my husband rolls over. He is briefly disturbed by the noise but easily able to settle right back into a hardcore session of REM sleep. I get up, plod into the kitchen, and pour my coffee.

Ugh. My stomach feels kind of off.

But, I don’t have time for that now.

5:27 A.M.

With all of the pets fed and a few minutes left before I have to get up to unload the dishwasher and put lunches together, I sit at the table to check email.

Gurgle, gurgle, growl.

Oh man, my stomach feels weird.

5:30 A.M.

Time to hop up and start the kitchen chores, all the while battling back a sour stomach and running through what I ate the previous day that could have possibly caused this intestinal distress.

5:46 A.M.

Elementary-aged son’s alarm goes off. He grumps his way downstairs and immediately flops on the couch, covering his head with a blanket.

“What do you want for breakfast?” I ask, swallowing a wave of nausea.

“Meh. I’m not hungry. I hate mornings. I hate waking up. Why is it so cold in here? Why is this lamp so bright?” replies my charming son.

After several minutes of playing my favorite morning game called “Magically Conceive Son’s Ideal Yet Unrealized Breakfast Option,” my kid settles on an English muffin with peanut butter. As I slather on a smear of the sticky, pale brown peanut butter, I sway as another wave of nausea threatens to take me down.


5:50 A.M.

I head to the bathroom to try and sort out whatever is going on with my stomach.

6:10 A.M.

Feeling a little better, I began barking at my son to get moving. 

“We have to leave for the bus stop in 10 minutes! Did you brush your teeth?”

All of the usual morning questions and demands ensue.

6:20 A.M.

I leash up the dog, grab my flashlight, and off we go down the street to our bus stop. There, we wait, while my stomach continues to make sounds similar to an angry, faulty furnace. I smile and nod to the other bus stop parents as I thank my lucky stars for the pitch black darkness that is our ridiculously early bus stop, so that they can’t see my approaching “green around the gills” wave of nausea.  

6:26 A.M.

The school bus comes careening around the corner, lights blazing. I steal a smooch on the top of my son’s head, instruct him to “have the day you’re going to have” (my favorite quote from The Odd Life of Timothy Green, because “have a good day” is too much pressure), and then walk back home, feeling a smidgen better, with the dog trotting casually at my side.

Maybe this stomach thing has passed.

6:30 A.M.

Return home from the bus stop and hear the middle schooler daughter’s alarm going off. I head upstairs to make sure she’s awake. (Spoiler: she’s not.) Begin the delicate process of waking up a dead-asleep adolescent girl.

Grumble, POP, blurg, gurglehere comes the stomach thing again, dang it.

6:38 A.M.

Daughter finally finds her way downstairs, so I leave her to make her own breakfast as I head back to the bathroom, careful not to disturb peacefully sleeping husband in super-dark bedroom.

7:00 A.M.

Begin the process of giving out 20-minute, 10-minute, and finally, 5-minute warnings to middle school daughter to keep her on track and get her out to the bus stop on time. All the while, still nursing that funky-feeling stomach.

7:20 A.M.

Walk daughter down the driveway and send her off to the bus stop. Then, feeling a bit better, I put the leash back on the dog and take her out on our usual three-mile hike. Thankfully, my stomach cooperates on the dog walk. I’m also thankful that I don’t need to utilize a poop bag for anyone other than the dog on this walk.

8:00 A.M.

Return home, move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and find husband finally up and in kitchen, making his breakfast.

He asks, “How are you today?”

To which I reply, “Pretty good, but man, my stomach does not feel good today.”

He says, “Oh no! Why don’t you take the day off?”

Too late, dude. My workday has been well underway for three hours.


Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two (Anna, 2007 and Jack, 2009), who migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry (and sarcasm). Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, and is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, New Braunfels Monthly and San Antonio Woman, as well as assorted other publications. You can also find her on Instagram (introvertsguidetosobriety). Favorite Restaurant: Bohanan's Favorite Landmark: The Alamo (duh) Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Wurstfest (not technically SAT, but closer to Jenny's stomping grounds).