Motherhood Moments: Survival Mode

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For the last two and a half weeks straight someone in my family has been sick. Puking, diarrhea, fevers, stuffy noses, headaches, infections, chills – we’ve had a pretty rough time recently.

It started on the drive home from a weekend campout in Moab, Utah. We’d spent a few days off-roading with my sister and her family. On the drive home I heard a funny noise coming from the back seat followed by giggles by Little G and Big E.

“Baby L just threw up!” Little G said. Then the toddler heaving began again. By the time we pulled over on the interstate my poor baby was covered in sick. So were her clothes, car seat and the truck bench. We’re lucky her siblings stayed clear.

While I cleaned the car seat, Mountain Dad changed the baby and our two other kids decided to make a side-of-the-road potty stop. That would’ve been fine, except that it was private property and within five minutes of stopping, a gray pickup truck started patrolling the other side of the fence. Luckily no shots were fired before we hightailed it out of there.

When sickness comes to your kids it’s always a high stress situation. But when it hits you as well, it’s a tragedy. I’m usually the one up at night with the kids, making doctor appointments and cleaning up vomit. It’s not a fun job, and anything else on the agenda is shoved out of the way pretty quickly. Forget grocery shopping, floor sweeping or any kind of computer work. Sick kids means you enter survival mode. Getting sick yourself means you live in survival mode.


Survival mode: Your energy is completely focused on feeding, clothing and sheltering yourself and your loved ones.

Survival mode isn’t pretty. Everything that falls through the cracks does. After taking care of others through a week of illness, I got the full force of both the stomach bug and fevered head cold. I spent several days curled in my robe, moaning into my handkerchief. I suppose it makes sense that Baby L using me as a kleenex would expose me to more germs, or cleaning up Big E’s vomit at 2 am might make me more vulnerable, but it just doesn’t feel fair.

Survival mode meant watching my home fall to ruin and being powerless to stop it. It made me appreciate my husband, who was well enough to pick up my slack. It also made me appreciate every single day that I can accomplish more than just sit on the couch. Made breakfast today? Gold star! Got the kids to school on time? I’m amazing!

One interesting side effect of survival mode is realizing the nonessential things that suck up my time. Have you thought about this recently? How could your time be better spent? I bet it’s not in cleaning your cupboards.

Sick kids, sick husband, sick self make for a pretty terrible time, but when I cut myself some slack I can realize that I accomplish a lot when I feel good. And that’s gotta be worth something.

When was the last time you were sick? Who helped take care of you? Did you reminisce about your momma? That’s what I did.

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

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