The day after Christmas, I woke up feeling just a little bit “off.” At first, I thought I had probably just overdid a bit over the holidays. But as the day wore on, I felt worse, not better. My throat hurt, I started coughing and I felt a little achy. By the next morning, I was well and truly sick and stayed that way for most of the week. The good news was that I tested negative for Covid three times, but the bad news was that I was absolutely miserable and unable to do anything other than lay around feeling sorry for myself.
Typically, I spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve relaxing and getting together with friends and family. The work of the holidays is over by then, but the decorations are still up, the kitchen is stocked with cookies and other Christmas goodies, and there’s plenty of time to enjoy it all. I hated missing out on all that, but as the week went on, I also began to feel guilty about all the other things I wasn’t doing: walking the shelter dogs, keeping up with my blogging, hosting a small family gathering for my out-of-town sister, and even basic housework. (I emptied the dishwasher one day and then had to go lay down for three hours to recover.)
Even worse, I was supposed to be spending at least part of that week helping my daughter care for her newborn son. Her husband was working and her older son’s daycare was closed for the holidays, so I had promised that I’d be around to lend a helping hand. But even if I’d had the energy, I couldn’t risk going anywhere near her house. I didn’t have Covid, but I was still sick and probably contagious.
So there I was, not only sick but feeling very guilty about being sick. I remembered how hectic caring for a newborn and a young child can be, and how grateful I was for any and all assistance. I hadn’t seen my out-of-town sister in months and hated the thought of her going back home without us getting together. I knew that every day I wasn’t at the animal shelter meant that the other volunteers had to walk even more dogs than usual, and that there was a chance that some dogs would miss their daily walk altogether. I even felt guilty about not keeping up with the comments on my latest blog post, or keeping up with my friends’ blogs.
The silver lining in all this mess was that eventually I realized that sometimes I’m not going to be able to do the things that others want or need me to do, and that I need to stop fretting about it and simply accept it. There are going to be times when I can’t live up to either my expectations or the expectations of other people, and I have to learn to be okay with that. Stuff happens, plans go awry, and sometimes, I just need to let go of the ridiculous idea that the world will crash and burn if I’m not carrying my fair share of the load every single minute.
My daughter made it through the week without my help; the blogging world kept right on going without me, and the shelter dogs all got their daily walks. Go figure. My sister was even able to stay in town long enough for me to recover and spend time with her, but she would have forgiven me if I hadn’t. Because the truth is, none of us is indispensable. Some of us just need to be reminded of that now and then…….