By Angela Anagnost Repke

Last Spring, a debilitating version of the flu crept up on me. My husband had an important meeting, otherwise, he would have stayed home so I could spend my day shivering in bed. Instead, I had to keep the children alive — on my own.

After letting them watch cartoons for an hour, the chills and aches worsened. I called our college-age babysitter, and it was the best decision I could have made.

She waltzed through the door, and I crawled back to my bedroom. I never emerged again that day. The babysitter stayed until my husband came home from work. I woke up the next day fever-free and ready to be a mom again.

While in my delirium, I realized that the fact I even considered taking care of my kids that day was insane. 

I needed to start doing things for myself again. I no longer had a baby who needed me almost every hour of every day, my preschooler was fully potty-trained, and my toddler was becoming more independent every minute. My superpower would no longer be pleasing everyone. Instead, I would please myself and shovel out my identity that was buried under years of joy-filled monotony.

On that day I was sick, the old me would have tried to suck it up. I would have put that supermom cape on and stayed home to breathe germs in my kids’ faces all day. I would have thrown a massive pity party for myself — ticked that moms always have to do it all.

When I was a new mother, that cape helped me run the house, the kids, the job — everything.

I worked Monday through Friday, graded papers on Saturday, and meal-prepped for the week on Sunday. I rarely worked out, wrote, went out with friends, or did much of anything for myself. This is nothing new for moms. We submerge ourselves in the dishes and diapers — fueled by the desire and expectation to make the entire family happy.

But you know what? Screw that. It’s up to us to change that. We earn no medal for sucking it up. No one will ever give us a gold, shiny trophy for doing it all (shouldn’t that be the real Academy Awards, though? Starring in a movie is probably hard, but try being sick with no nanny and personal chef to call).

So, let’s stop. Instead, other people can chip in. Call the grandparents or a babysitter. Tell your spouse that you’re playing hooky for the day. Grab your supermom cape, and on the way out say, “So long, suckers.”

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