In Sickness and . . .
By Patricia Darak
Mommy is sick.
My immune system had finally been overwhelmed with more than its share of sniffles, sneezes, coughs, and fevers.
Every time one of my babies came down with something, I was the main caregiver, nutritionist, cuddler, and nurse. So, it was inevitable that I took a little something away from each of those illnesses.
One sick person at a time? I can handle it. Three sick people at once? It’s tough, but I can deal with the symptoms better than the kids can. Everyone in the house, plus almost every stranger (who happened to be coughing and sneezing) that I came into contact with while running errands and shopping? Immune system overload.
At first, it started with a general fatigue. Then, a definite fever, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat. Lastly, my whole body began to ache, and I couldn’t stay awake for more than thirty minutes at a time.
Thank Goodness my kids understood that Mommy was down for the count. There’s almost nothing better than being the one taken care of instead of being the one doing the caring. So, while my oldest daughter recovered in her bedroom, I recovered in mine. As soon as we crawled into our respective beds, we had about twenty minutes of quiet, and then the chorus of the two youngest children began.
“Momma! She pushed me!”
“Momma! He pushed me first!”
“No, I didn’t!”
“Yes, you did!”
“Quit shouting! You’re the one who made Momma sick!”
“I did not! And, I’m not shouting! You are!”
“No, I’m not! Momma, am I shouting?!”
Their father, himself barely recovered from whatever virus that had stricken the rest of us, is left to tame the animals in the family zoo.
“Hey, hey, hey! Shh! You guys need to keep it down. Mommy’s sleeping. She’s sick and she needs her rest so she can get better. Let’s all play a game so we can be quiet, okay?”
“Okay! I want to play this game!”
“No! I want to play that game! It’s my turn to pick the game!”
“No, it’s not! It was your turn last time!”
“No, it wasn’t! That’s not right!”
Both pairs of eyes turned to look up at their father. Then, the quiet negotiations began.
First, our youngest daughter:
“Actually, it’s my turn. Right, Daddy?”
“No, I think your brother’s right. I think it’s his turn.”
“No, Daddy, actually it’s my turn. It can be his turn yesterday.”
“You mean tomorrow? It can be his turn tomorrow?”
“No, Daddy. It can be his turn yesterday. That’s in . . . that’s in . . . fifteen years ago.”
“Umm . . . no, sweetie. How about if we play his game first? Then, we can play your game after that. How’s that sound?”
“That sounds gross, Daddy! You’re being mean to me! It’s my turn, it’s my turn, IT’S MY TURN!” She then dissolved into tears of injustice, a weapon that she wielded all too often.
Seeking to restore some semblance of peace, my husband appealed to the logic of our five-year-old son.
“Son, can we play your sister’s game first? She’s crying and I want some quiet so Mommy can sleep.”
“No, Daddy. It’s not right that you do whatever she wants just ’cause she cries. It’s my turn first. You said. You promised!”
“But, son, your sister’s crying. Can we please play her game first?”
“Well . . . because she’s little, and we need to be fair to her. She’s not a big kid like you, yet.” Then, my husband gave a conspiratorial wink. “She’s still a baby.”
“She’s not a baby, Daddy. She’s almost four. She always cries when she doesn’t get what she wants. That’s not being fair to me, huh? Right?”
“No, I guess not. But, honey, life’s not really fair. Not always. We always have to take care of those smaller than us, remember?”
“But, Daddy, she’ll always be smaller than me. So she always gets whatever she wants? That’s not right, Daddy. That’s not fair.” Our son stopped, mid-argument, and took a deep breath. “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”
Their father, exasperated, let out a dramatic sigh and stared down at both angry little faces. He searched for any sign of compromise. Nothing.
“Fine! Then, I’ll pick the game. Then, we’ll all play together.”
The kids looked at their father, at each other, then back at their father.
“No, Dad, that’s not the way to be.”
“Yeah, Dad. You’re wrong.”
Suddenly struck by inspiration, they sped off together, laughing. My husband was suddenly left standing alone in the kitchen, holding a game in each hand.
“Kids? Where’d you go?”
“We’re playing pirate in the bedroom, Daddy!”
“Yeah, we’re playing! We’re having quiet play time!”
Their father put both of the games away, and then came in to check on me. I sat up and smiled sleepily at him.
“Did you hear what your children just did to me? They made a big fuss, and then ran off to play.”
“Mmm hmm. They do that to me all of the time.”
“How do you stand it?”
“I don’t know. Part of being a parent, I guess. Thank you for doing such a good job with the kids. You’re a great dad.”
He looked at me, perplexed. “I am? Thank you. And, you’re a great mommy.”
“Aww. Thank you.”
He looked down at me and grinned. “Hurry up and get better, okay? I’m going insane.”
I laughed and nodded. “Okay.”
But, for now? Mommy’s still sick, so back to sleep for me. I snuggled deeper into the covers and smiled.
I love my family. Yes, I do.