I am seldom ill, and I think as a result, I don’t do sick very well. While I would love to be pampered and to become one with the couch as the TV sucks me in, having a toddler makes that a little difficult. I am grateful that, at two, she’s old enough to entertain herself for a whole half hour before turning her attention to me, climbing on my lap, asking me for stories or songs, or to just wrapping herself around me like a human tortilla.
But I can’t blame the little one. She’s not why I haven’t recovered after six miserable days of hacking my lungs out. I fell sick over the weekend and refused to cancel all of the plans I made ages ago to stay home and confine myself to chicken soup and hot tea. Instead, I proceeded with my Saturday evening plans – hey, we had a sitter; I couldn’t possibly let that one slip – that went too late into the night (or rather too early into the morning) and the next day, continued with brunch plans with another family. When coordinating with other parents with wee ones, it’s hard enough to find the time to get together, I couldn’t risk a raincheck as I wasn’t sure when our stars would align again.
I work full time and Monday came too quickly as usual, but it didn’t occur to me to take the time off to convalesce. Since I wasn’t sick often, the luxury of paid time off was usually reserved for fun things like vacations with the family, but never really for myself. I commuted to and from work with icicles on my lashes and by that evening, I felt like I was dragged into the fiery furnace of hell and back. That was when I knew I could no longer fight this. Ignoring my ailment, hoping it would go away on its own, was not only a terrible idea, it was also to my own detriment as I plunged deeper into my misery.
What I needed was a day or two with no obligations, household chores, deadlines, errands and responsibilities. The time to heal. And that’s exactly what I didn’t allow myself, (erroneously) thinking that slowing down meant succumbing to my sickness. I didn’t want to be weak that way; I wanted to beat it. I didn’t want to yield. But that would’ve been the best thing I could have done for myself.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Regina Brett’s Life Lessons lately, ever since my chance encounter with it two weeks ago, and “Yield” was one of the 50 that stood out for me. It’s not something I’m very good at mostly because I’ve always thought that to yield is to surrender. Yet when I really think about it, sometimes it’s more courageous to know when to step away than to battle to the bitter end, only to wind up irreparably wounded, or worse, still be defeated.
To yield suggests the strength to admit defeat for now so you can come back stronger for a surer victory. It humbles us as it makes us realize and accept that we are not infallible, but it allows us a perspective other than the do-or-die kind. That there are alternative paths to our destination, and if there’s a bit of a detour, so what? A scenic route isn’t so bad.
Growing up, I’ve been taught to only strive to be the best, to fight until the end, that winners never quit – these words that influenced me only encouraged my self-defeating behavior, like always wanting to be right or never knowing when to stop. It’s exhausting. Knowing the pressure I face with my own inability to yield, I couldn’t possibly teach that to my own daughter. I need her to know that it’s OK to step down or aside sometimes, to apologize when we’re sorry, to take a step back one day only to gather the courage and strength to move five paces ahead the next. That stepping back doesn’t mean we’re not moving forward.
But these are lessons I struggle with myself. Every day. For now, there is tea and honey to be had and a warm bed calling my name. If I am to learn how to yield, perhaps it’s prudent that I pay them heed and head their way so I can finally get better.
And live to write another day.
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