being a mom

It’s A Universal Truth Of Parenting: Moms Can Never Get Sick

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89004225I have said this many times before and I will say it again here: Moms can’t get sick.

I have NO idea how this stupid universal truth of parenting started but it may be the most universal truth in all of the universal truths about parenting. Moms can’t get sick.

If you are a mom you know this. If you are the partner of a mom you may also know this, but you probably don’t appreciate this enough. When a mom gets sick it’s business as usual. She may be on antibiotics , or nursing through an evil hell-cold, or she may even have pneumonia, but I can guarantee she is still up, getting the kids off to school, running the dishwasher, checking homework, and even deciding what will be for dinner, even if that is just making a list to be picked up at Panera. I’m sure even moms who are seriously sick, like those going through chemotherapy, are never truly sick. Even in the most dire circumstances while trying to rest in bed the second a kid comes into the room with a picture book or homework to be checked the mom does it. I have never known a mom to actually be unfunctioning when sick.

The only time I have ever wished not to have children is when I am sick. You childfree and childless people? You can crawl into bed with a cup of tea and just DIE, because when you are really sick you feel like you are dying, while those of us with kids are conducting business as usual, but with a fistful of used tissues and a head fuzzy with Nyquil.

I’m a professional at being sick the same time as being a mom. I have to be, and you probably have to be too. And it’s pretty much the worst. I know I am lucky, because my partner will make me bourbon and honey and bring home dinner and let me crawl into bed when he is home, but in the meantime I am getting by the best I can. At least I don’t have a newborn to care for, because when those moms get sick? Forget it. They have it even worse than the rest of us.

So as a PSA to the rest of you, if you are related to or know a mom who is sick? Go to her house. Take her kids. Leave her a few boxes of Kleenex and some soup and send her up to bed. If she has a newborn? Leave Kleenex and soup on her doorstep like you are some happy illness fairy. They say it takes a village and all I needed yesterday when my husband was out of town was a village to help me put my bra back on because I was too weak after taking a bath to do so. And I’m still not wearing a bra.

Moms can’t get sick. We may actually be sick, and we may feel like utter garbage, and we may stumble for a few days but we are never hiding in bed and not taking care of business. We may just not be wearing a bra while doing so.

(Photo: Getty Images)


  1. Cassandy

    December 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    As a mom who got “sick-sick” last year with a really serious illness that landed me in and out of the hospital for months (and am currently pregnant, sick, sick-sick, and still in and out of the hospital)… YES YES TO THIS ARTICLE. No matter how sick you are, you are still a mom. Still doing stuff you shouldn’t, still always “on”. And those days I’m stuck in the hospital or stuck in bed and actually physically can’t move… I’m still a mom, and still trying to skype with my son (using my special “happy voice”) or crying in the blankets, then calling downstairs to make sure the kiddo got his favourite snack.

    The real key is drawing the line between doing mom stuff, and making sure that you’re staying healthy enough to actually be alive to be a mom to your kids in the future. But still a mom.

    • Andrea

      December 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Ah the all important distinction between “sick-sick” versus merely “sick”. We all know what you mean!

  2. NicknamesAreDull

    December 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    During cold/flu season, I talked to my doctor about taking Zinc and Emergan-C (sp?). So I’ve started taking that, and it’s amazing. My husband (usually) works in the ER, so he is a germ magnet and our daughter goes to elementary school.. I don’t really stand a chance, so I have to use my secret weapons.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      I’ve been giving my toddler and baby Vit D drops, which are supposed to boost immunity (and work even better than a flu shot, I read) – please, please, please. I’ll report back!

    • NicknamesAreDull

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      We did/do something similar with my daughter, because she had a really awful reaction to the shot. It worked fairly well.

      When we started, he was working at sick call (where service members go when they’re sick, it’s like urgent care), so he was constantly in contact with colds, the flu etc. She got a couple colds, but not the flu. She’s never had the flu. Since my husband’s job is (usually) dealing with the sick masses, we try a lot of herbal remedies, because ain’t nobody got time for that.

      So, in my case, they worked pretty well. I don’t know if she’s just super human, though.

    • Bethany Ramos

      December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      My son was the WORST last year, so I’m hoping for the best. We have him on tons of natural remedies – probiotics, spirulina, the works. I’m hoping for a better year this year. 🙂

  3. Andrea

    December 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    YES YES OMG so much YES!
    Why is this? Why should it be? But it is!

  4. Lee

    December 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Over labor day I had a nasty flu. I practically begged my mom to come pick up my almost 2 year old up. Thank god she did. I spent more time in bed that weekend than I had since I was in the hospital after giving birth. It was awful and glorious all at the same time.

  5. Bethany Ramos

    December 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    My husband and I have the most epic sick fights (he’s a work-at-home dad) – we can’t see at the time that we’re both irrational and feeling shitty and worn down from a sick toddler and baby. “You woke me up before my alarm, RAHHHH! That is an offense punishable by death!” 😉

    • Frances Locke

      December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      If my husband wakes me up before the alarm, he feels my wrath. All. Day. Long.

  6. keelhaulrose

    December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    This article is spot on.
    I was so sick Saturday I could barely move. I was too afraid to cook anything, as standing on my feet too long made me feel like I was going to topple over. But my husband was working, so I somehow plowed through it, and the saint I married let me sleep 13 hours until he had to go back to work. I’m still sick, but thanks to that I’m able to function.

  7. Holly

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I had full-on pneumonia about 2 months ago. The stunned, speechless look on everyone’s faces as they stood in my bedroom doorway was beyond pathetic. I tell my husband all the time how lost he’d be if I got hit by a truck.

  8. Véronique Houde

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Wow, am I the only one who totally doesn’t feel guilty being sick and on off mode? My boyfriend totally knows how to take care of the baby and steps in when i’m not 100%. My daughter trusts both of us just the same when it comes to taking care of her! Thank god for this, because the three of us have been spreading every single strain of the cold bug imaginable while I’ve just finished my first trimester of pregnancy. I’ve had a lot of off time to rest up!! (so has my boyfriend when he’s been sick).

    • LiteBrite

      December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      Well, the first day I don’t feel guilty. Instead I milk it for all its worth. 🙂 But I do feel guilty when it’s going on the second or third day. That doesn’t mean I’m up and about; it just means I feel guilty for not being well.

      Edited to add: And congratulations on your pregnancy! 🙂

    • Frances Locke

      December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Oh, I definitely don’t feel guilty. The second my husband is home from work he is perfectly fine with me running off to bed to feel like dying in peace, and he’s excellent at getting shiz done. It’s those hours when I’m home alone and sick that suck big time.

  9. Megan Zander

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    YES! And I wish someone had told me this before I had kids because two weeks ago the boys caught thier first cold and my husband and I caught it from them and it SUCKED. My hubs has always been a bit of a baby when he’s sick, so it was worse for him when I couldn’t coddle him. Being sick with kids is awful.

  10. Shelly Lloyd

    December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Preach it sister. One of the things that I resent my husband the most is that he rarely ever gets the kids off to school. I have to have pneumonia or puking my guts up or in the hospital before he will get the kids off to school.

    • Frances Locke

      December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Ugh, that sounds rough. I’m thanksful that my husband is good with that stuff. Mostly because he is a morning person (yuck) and I am not. lol

  11. Frances Locke

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Ugh, I am going through this right now. I am counting down the seconds for when my husband gets home and I can retire to my cozy, comfy bed with a cup of tea (Irished up, of course). And like you, I am working from home too.

    • Eve Vawter

      December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Carrie is sick too! we are all sick! I hope you feel better 🙁

  12. Toaster

    December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Ugh I’m there today. Hideous cold with a baby who’s still up every 2 hours at night and a high-energy 3-year old. I love my kids more than anything but days like today I really miss my pre-kids life.

  13. TheGiantPeach

    December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I never wear a bra when I’m at home.
    The first time my son got sick was a real slap in the face. He had a stomach bug that resulted in nastiness shooting out of both ends. About 6 hours later my husband and I joined him in the fun. I had NO IDEA what taking care of a small human was like when I felt like dying.
    I had the flu this past January. My husband took our son to daycare and I spent 4 days moving back and forth from the bed to the couch trying to die as fast as possible. I didn’t change a diaper or worry about any other household issues – they were on their own and I didn’t really care. Does this mean I’m a bad mom or my husband is awesome?

    • Alicia Kiner

      December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      It means your husband is awesome.

    • ElleJai

      December 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

      I’m in the middle of a month long summer cold from Hell. I’d be ok to soldier through if it was just the Hell Cold, but sadly my body’s reaction to the mucus is to spend hours each day violently throwing up, getting headaches and severe muscle strains from coughing.

      I’m all but off duty because I can’t function and I’m being driven MAD by my uselessness.

    • Paul White

      December 3, 2013 at 10:16 am

      that happened to us this year…we basically kind of just passed him back and forth between our own trips to the bathroom. Hell on earth.

  14. Alex

    December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Because fuck you dads, you’re expendable to the family and as disposable as tissues!

    MOMSTRONG, amirite?

    • DeliciousIroning

      December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      There are plenty of comments here that give credit to Dads, so no, I don’t think anyone got that from this article. The author never once disparaged fathers. Plus it was an article about MOMS, not Dads. Sorry they had to sit this one out, but it happens.

      That said, my husband is worthless when we are sick. Last month we all got a raging flu bug that took out everyone including the five month baby. He put himself to bed, said goodnight, and left me with the kids and the responsibility. Even took a day off of work so he could spend a day in bed. I never got that luxury even though I was as sick as he was. When I asked for help he simply pissed and moaned about how much I CLEARLY didn’t love him in his time of need.

    • Kelly

      December 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      He sounds like a shitty human being. I’m sorry.

  15. JLH1986

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Because of our situation if the hubs and I ever actually get a baby, it will probably be him in this boat. He’ll be home with the kiddos and I’ll be working. Of course he’s horrendous at being sick himself so I’m not sure how that works. Even now as a non mom. If he gets a cold he’s all “OMG I’M DYING”. I’ll have the flu and still be running the vacuum. But I feel for all the parents who can’t turn it off when sick because the small humans need you. That sounds absolutely terrible.

  16. Alicia Kiner

    December 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    My hubby is great at taking care of the kiddos and their needs when I’m down, which is a lot thanks to chronic migraines… IF he’s home. He’s a train engineer, so he’s like a truck driver. Luckily, he has FMLA, so if it’s bad, I can call him, and they’ll drive him to his home dispatch center, and he can come home. The house, on the other hand is another story. I deal with it most of the time, because hey, if he has to come home from work to take care of the kids for a couple of days, we’re losing money. I have no right to complain, and I don’t. I’ll clean up whatever messes we’ve all made, and do all the laundry if it takes me a month to catch up.

  17. Blueathena623

    December 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Jealous of all the ppl who have awesome husbands when they are sick. Mine just turns into an asshole. So when I’m sick I get the joy of feeling like crap, still taking care of a kid (who is probably sick as well), and being treated like crap.
    I hate being sick.

    • Kelby Johnson

      December 3, 2013 at 6:45 am

      My husband turns oblivious. I do the same thing, sick, taking care of sick kids because I got them sick and still being expected to run the household.

    • Blueathena623

      December 3, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Ugh, that sucks!

    • Paul White

      December 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

      I’m nice when my wife’s sick but I’m an asshole when I’m sick. does that count?

    • Blueathena623

      December 3, 2013 at 11:57 am

      That makes me feel a little bit better ;). His issue is that he can’t distinguish between emotional predictions and actual events. So I say I don’t feel well, and he immediately pictures, I dunno, months of me being an invalid and him having to take care of the kid and the house and me. So he gets super stressed and starts acting like a jerk, despite the fact that NOTHING has happened beyond me saying “I don’t feel well.” And then, even if nothing ever happens, he never has to do a single thing more than usual, his memory still links wife sick = super stress, so he feels even more justified the next time I get sick to think that it will be a stressful situation. Most of the time I love him, but sometimes I just want to stab him with a fork.

    • Paul White

      December 3, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Use a spork. That way the puncture wounds aren’t *too* deep.

  18. The Kez

    December 3, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Urgh – sick with a baby is truly awful. A couple of months ago I had a terrible virus and felt like death. I was laying in bed with my 6 week old because I didn’t have the energy/strength to keep getting up to feed her. While laying there my two year old was alternating between jumping on me, demanding that I read books and hitting me in the head with a toy train.

  19. Simone

    December 3, 2013 at 4:52 am

    I used to really look forward to getting sick once a year, a good flu or a nice gastro, because I could stop work for a bit, lie in bed feeling like shit and drink lots of tea watching movies on my laptop. Illness was the only thing that stopped me working two jobs and studying and blah blah so I used to relish it.

    No longer. We actually did this in a gender lecture, how usually males who get sick are able to take (often paid) time out to recuperate but the unpaid labour of (predominantly) women has no such coverage. Society is basically built upon the dual unit of one paid, out-of-home worker and one unpaid, in-home worker, who accrues none of the status, prestige, advancement, or superannuation of the out-of-home worker. It’s no longer working out quite as well as it used to.

  20. Aussiemum

    December 3, 2013 at 5:09 am

    I had pneumonia 2 yrs ago. I was supposed to go to hospital but since hubby was working 12 hr days I stayed on the couch. I remember being asked, so whose going to cook dinner/wash clothes/watch the kids? You mean I (hubby) have to do it? After being at work? Guilt trip much?!?!
    This year I had surgery on my shoulder and was in a sling for 6 weeks. I couldn’t do anything. It was fucking awesome! Everyone finally realised just how much I actually do for them and the entire household. I actually got control of the tv remote and got drinks bought to me and dinner cooked.
    Hubby thinks he is dying when ever he gets a sniffle and will literally lay on the couch and moan about how sick he is. Last winter he had a cold and I had the full on flu, I still managed to carry on doing everything, while he refused to get of the couch, even spreading himself out enough to take up the whole entire thing. In the end, I told him if he didn’t get up now, then he wouldn’t be getting up at all cause I’ll smother him with his beloved pillow.

  21. Kelby Johnson

    December 3, 2013 at 6:50 am

    The only time I got to be ‘off-duty’ was when I had my gall bladder out. Thankfully the hospital drug it out over 3 months with removing stones and then finally my gall bladder itself. I was only able to lay around because I was in the hospital for about 2 weeks out of that 3 months.

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  23. Paul White

    December 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

    The worst part is when both parents and the kid(s) are all sick at the same time. Hell on earth. Passing a screaming upset infant back and forth between your own puking spells is just…ugh. Shoot me.

  24. Alfreda Wells Morrissey

    January 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    The only time I was actually off when I was sick, I had pneumonia. I remained at home one day from work (huge for me). He made dinner and took care of the kids. Then the second day I managed to scrape myself out of bed and go to work in agony. For some reason all the pain was in my back not my chest so I was worried that I had kidney stones or something. He assumes since I’m back to work, that means I’m better. He sends me a shopping list, including a very heavy case of Perrier. I manage to struggle that thing into my trunk with a painful back, get the kids get home. When he gets home I yell at him for making me get Perrier, tell him I’m not hungry and I’m in pain and leave him with the kids to pick up the slack. Later he comes and tentatively suggests I got to the hospital and drives me there. I spend the night and get told to take three days off work. About three days later, the Perrier case is still sitting in my trunk. I had asked him to remove it for me on the day I went to the hospital, he forgot. I remove it and things are back to normal.

    It seems when I demand time off, he picks up the slack, but for some reason I feel guilty doing this. Then I think the put the guilt on him, when really it is my guilt. At least I know if I need to he will take care of things, but I have a fear of taking advantage so I don’t ask until I am dying.

    There have been instances in the past where he basically told me to such it up and stop being a wimp, like when I broke my collar bone in a car accident and we were told it was a hair line fracture. But even then I think he said, “It shouldn’t hurt that much if it is just a hairline fracture,” I interpreted this to mean “you are a wimp”, and actually looking back I think he meant, “Maybe you should go to a doctor and get it checked out because it shouldn’t hurt that much”. Maybe I just need to ask for help when I need it, and change the lens in the way I see things.

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