Getting Sick with Kids

Last week brought with it a pretty heinous bout of the flu. The kind of flu that leaves bruises on your sternum from hours of hugging the toilet. The kind where you’re just not sure you want to go on living. The kind where your stomach says, “You thought you could sneak that single Saltine in here? I don’t think so!” and then laughs maniacally before rejecting it. Because stomachs laugh.

As you can all imagine, I did your garden-variety drawing of the curtains, lying in the bedroom bat cave for hours on end, moaning and groaning. There was a good deal of “Why me?!”ing, but the other question that popped up during my more lucid moments was…

How do parents with small children survive the flu?!

It felt, at times, like I was barely clinging to life. I couldn’t even gather the strength to walk down to the couch until Day 2…so how could I possibly have dealt with a screaming infant requiring food, a diaper change or endless hours of walking, rocking, jiggling and cajoling? And what if that baby had been paired with a toddler who would no doubt start eating dishwashing detergent by the fistful if I turned my back for a moment to puke? My ability to sleep for nearly 20 hours that second day is perhaps the sole reason I was able to (mostly) recover within a 48-hour period. How much longer would that have been extended if I’d gotten the standard 3 or 4 hours of sleep afforded most new parents?

Granted, my questions above sort of assume that I’d have zero help, which probably wouldn’t be the case. But what if you don’t have family living nearby? What if all your friends have actual jobs and can’t take time out of their schedules to lend a hand? What if your husband is out of town or has a critical work thing he can’t miss? What if your husband is imaginary and you’re actually a single mom? Who can’t afford a babysitter to come and take them away for the day? What do these poor women do?

I realize that battling the flu as a mom is a temporary and out-of-the-norm scenario, as are many of the things I worry about on this blog. But each of these are just drops in the bucket that continue to add up to a pretty overwhelming package of panic sometimes. So for now, I’m pretty grateful that I was the only enormous crybaby in my house last week.

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