Sick and Tired
My counselor (as if you thought I didn’t have one…) told me in our last session that “all kids get sick that first year in public care, no matter if that first year is their year One or year Five. And then one day it just eases up. It gets better.”
I don’t know if this is true across this board, but I tend to trust her with other things in my life like my aggressive confrontation skills and my inclination to say yes to too many things..so I guess I can believe her in this regard. But this is not an easy task when we’re in the thick of cold/flu/stomach bug/snot/puke/infection season. Look at how I tried to make this topic lovely by taking this picture…three out of the six of those items have my son’s boogers on them.
So as I sit at home on a Tuesday, in our fifth week of sickness (that’s right, one of the three people in my home has been sick every weekend for over a month now), I decided to compile a list of 9 things that suck about a sick household.
I write this for no other reason but for commiseration and venting. And also to remember in two months (or two years? says my counselor), when we aren’t being slammed by wave after wave of contagious everything, once again we made it through.
Here’s the storm I’m talking about…
- Gone are the days of catching something once and being done with it for that season. It is impossible—with a baby (who might as well be a smiling, wiggly sponge) making friends with all his snotty cronies at Mom’s Day Out and with our fairly social jobs and lives—to know when one virus stops and another starts. I used to think that you could only get the stomach virus once a year, but that is wrong. It is not correct. And someone owes me an explanation for this and also a few large packages of toilet paper. Where is the justice, man? We have stopped trying to determine which of us is currently “over it” and now “safe with immunity,” and which of us is vulnerable. We are all vulnerable.
2. How more women do not lose their jobs (and their minds and their savings accounts) this first year back at work is beyond me. Between the scheduled pediatrician appointments, the unscheduled pediatrician appointments, the recovery time for baby, and the recovery time for mommy…how in the world does the math pan out? A big shout out to grandparents, and partners, and friends, and nannies, and aunts and uncles who make the world go round for this sort of nonsense.
3. The laundry. Right now in my hallway is every item that I possibly touched, slept on, or looked at over the last week. I have been sick for six days now and am desperate for my guys (who just got over colds) not to get what I picked up at the tail end of last week. I’m talking comforters, towels, crib sheets, throw pillows, stuffed animal horses, table runners, YOU NAME IT—I’m washing it. Remember when being sick only meant watching Jimmy Fallon in your two day old pjs? Now it is work.
4. It does not take much for me to feel like I am missing out, but a month plus of semi isolation due to sickness, and the world might as well just be passing me on by. I start to look at different instagrams of people who are hanging out, eating, traveling, mardi gras-ing, and I start skulking around in an existential crisis. Asking questions like who am I, and what was I put here to do?
5. Someone has to take care of the baby, so taking care of you now gets to be a creative project for you and the friends that you are no longer ashamed of begging. “Can you take him for tonight?” “Can you bring us gatorade and crackers?” “Do you mind switching supper wagon days with me?” “Can you come tuck me in and wash the 17 loads of laundry in our hallway? No? Ok, can you pick up my W2 from the office then?” Have I mentioned before how humbling motherhood has been for me? My need for interdependency has been wildly highlighted.
6. People must get tired of you talking about you and yours being some version of sick, because you are tired of hearing yourself talk about it. You’re even tired of hearing yourself preface prayer requests with “I know I sound like a broken record…” *bangs head, bangs head, bangs head against the wall that YOU NOW HAVE TO DISINFECT because you touched it*
7. The questions of what I could be doing better, longer, more frequently, differently are at full throttle in this arena. What if I had been able to breast feed longer? What if one of us stayed home? What if it’s the way I’m washing bottles? Or my hands? Is it the dog? I’d love to blame the dog. Could I be diffusing more essential oils? Cooking more vitamin enriched baby food? Meditating on mantras and rain dancing good vibes toward our bodies? Is this my punishment for getting sucked into The Bachelorette during maternity leave?
8. You have to get real brave and fast when it comes to warding off possible contaminated things headed toward your child’s mouth. I’m talking, you must be the Venus Williams of knocking other kids’ toys away and there is no shame in asking someone if they’ve washed their hands before they grab your child who is now into gnawing on all knuckles present.
9. The kisses. I miss the kisses the most. My baby is right at the stage where he is undeniably showing affection by grabbing my face and trying to swallow my entire cheek and mouth and eyebrow. I love it so much and don’t care half an ounce that I come up out of these sugar sessions looking like a drowned rat; and this arms-length-distance that I have to put between us when I am running fever is the pits. Mark my word, the day I am 100% better, I am blocking out time in my planner just to get in some good face-eating.
Ugh, I’m already ready to move on to the next topic because I’M OVER NOT BEING WELL. So here’s a concluding pep-talk to myself and anyone else who is neck deep in sanitation and vitamin-C chewables:
You remember all the times that you thought “it has always been like this, it will always be like this,” but then the tides turned? Whether it was in the waiting game of trying for pregnancy or adoption, or in the miserably large days of the third trimester, or in the midnight feedings of the newborn months, or in the tantrum throwing circus of toddler years…you remember being there? And then not being there? And then how there were noticeable breaks in between, and daily doses of fun and good and calm? This is like that. It has to be. And not just because my counselor said so, but because that is apparently the rhythm of parenthood. We don’t ever arrive, but we don’t stay stuck either. To the parents of kids with allergies, the families burning the midnight oil for months on end in the NICU, the households that feel stuck in the virus cycle…we are thinking of you today. Wishing power for your forward moving lives.