When you’re in the trenches, it feels like time stands still, or at the very least, slows to a turtle’s pace. And there aren’t many trenches deeper than when your kids are sick.
My phone buzzes and it’s the school. I know what that means. He’s sick. Before I even pick it up, I’m packing my bags and shutting down my computer at work. It’s instinct. Yet, it’s not something you ever really get used to. But you know you have no choice. And you’re really not sure it matters. You can picture a sick little boy sitting at school waiting, and you know he only wants his mom.
You also know it’s just the beginning. It could be days before he’s feeling like himself again. In the meantime, at the faintest murmur of ‘Mommy’ from his lips, you will run to his side with a wash cloth for his forehead, bringing him Sprite and crakers when he’s ready and lying in his youth-sized bed in the middle of the night when his temperature is high. And if you’re lucky, you won’t get spitup on your clothes, or in your hair. I’ll spare you the details, but at once very unlikely and unlucky moment, I had multiple forms of bodily fluid in my hair. At 3 a.m.
We begin another day, both of us tired from the night before. As he lies on the couch, shivering, blanket pulled up to his little chin, you wonder if there’s something you’re forgetting. The list forms in your head: tylenol, thermometer, fluids, favorite stuffed animal. Watching your baby suffer seems to add to the exhaustion and the already overblown commentary in your head. Rest. That’s all he needs now, Mom. That, and you close by.
To feel some sense of control, you grab the Clorox wipes, the bleach, the pillow cases, the sheets and you scour the house. You remind yourself that this may be all for naught. There will be a tiny spot on a counter somewhere and your 3-year-old will find a way to put his mouth right on that spot. But in your desperation, you convince yourself the 1 percent chance he won’t go there is worth it.
Now this may work. I’m still holding on for you 1 percent of lucky moms out there.
But within two days’ time, No. 2 has succombed to the sickness. And now, I’m home from work again.
Where does this stuff come from in the first place? Did they get it from me? Did he pick it up at school? At day care? On a shopping cart? Not that any of that matters. There’s no way to completely prevent it. Admitting it’s a matter of luck gives no real comfort at all.
I tell myself there will be an end. And that day would seem a lot closer if I hadn’t been sick myself the week before, if I wasn’t worried about their dad catching it, too.
My advice? Just hold on a little bit longer mamas and daddys, spring is now here. And although I know people get sick in warm months as well as cold, the chances of staying well seem a little better than 1 percent.
And I’m willing to take that bet.