Our family is under a fatigue induced crawl. Three sick little girls take turns owning the mantle of mast pathetic, violet circles under glassy eyes turned a blue so pale it’s as if the bug is draining every last bit of color from their beings. Their normally robust and driven dad takes nap after nap, his cintacts shucked from his eyes as soon as he pass through the door, his carriage deflated. I am in a fog, the girls walk across the room and stumble over nothing, Sean plods up the stairs with only the need for the comfort of bed keeping him upright. I muddle through, longing to— write, fold, jog, eat, laze, but finding only enough to tend to whichever person is begging for a drink or medicine. It is awful and kind of wonderful at once.We have never been good at moderation. Marriage, house, new business and three kids in 4 years kind of proves it. Sometimes I revel in it, proud that we accomplish so much, striving always to do more and to be better. Other times, say, for example when there has been a successive run of work-past-midnight evenings followed by over-booked weekends and, one-parent scenarios, I question our madness.

Now, as we find ourselves in the crook of this bug, there are shades of comfort. A toddler that cups your face in her hands and holds your eye until she’s sure you won’t look away only to say how much she loves you and hopes you won’t be working again has a way of stroking a part of the soul inaccessible by any other means. The blessedly-still-pudgy hand of another daughter patting the spot beside her in bed with an, “I don’t mind if you just need to work if you let me be by you, promise I’ll be still,” presses heavily on my heart.

The solace is that at some point I shifted gears, deliberately and wholeheartedly. I am primed for care-taking and postponing. Emails go unanswered, to-dos become will-get-tos. The within-the-hour pace of my everything has come to a screeching halt, as a barrier of want staves it off each day. I want to slip into a cuddle without weighing whether or not there is time, I want to be looking at them when they look up to check. And I am, and honestly the cost is so much less than the reward of not doing so.

There’s only been one email that has barked back— Answer me, to which I think: I will. On my terms.

My fatigue has stripped me of urgency, there is just now. You see, as I stand here, hair unstyled, face un-retouched and shoulders dropped, I am going what is absolutely best for my family and for me. I may look like hell, but it feels a little bit like heaven to have it all so straight.