The Mythic Mom-Cold

February 19th, 2017

You’ve heard of the dreaded “man-cold,” right? That terrifying superbug that manages to law waste to self-proclaimed tough males at the first sign of a stuffy nose. A slight fever, a few sneezes and – WHAM – he’s laid out, unable to help around the house anymore, resigned to lying pitifully on the couch with a box of tissues to keep him company while he watches ESPN. Poor dear.

But what about the mom-cold? Ever heard of that? Of course not. Ain’t no momma got time for nonsense like that! We have laundry to do and homework to patrol and we are the only ones who can possibly find the missing Captain American action figure that is sitting in plain sight in the middle of a distraught child’s bedroom. There’s no room on that to-do list to curl up into a ball of snot for several days and ignore the world around you.

Seriously, though, being sick when you’re a single parent is a pain in the nose. One day last week, I found myself feeling a little “off.” But I had several meetings to attend, grocery shopping to do, a child to take to gymnastics, another with a spelling pre-test, and on and on. When I finally paused to take my temperature, it was a balmy 102. Oh crap. Mayday, mayday! We’re going down!

Negotiating sibling squabbles is hard enough healthy. When you’re wrapped in a fever, it’s nearly impossible to muster any interest in the outcome of their turf warfare. Nudge me if anyone starts bleeding, dears, I’ll be over here on the couch. Dinner? Not tonight. Let’s discuss that idea tomorrow instead. You know where the graham crackers are.

Once they finally accepted that my misery was genuine, my children became very solicitous. They wanted to share their drinks. And touch me. And climb on me. And rub their faces on mine. It was all so sweet and loving and they seemed genuinely puzzled by my frantic attempts to erect barricades out of couch cushions to deflect their earnest smooches. Back, children! Back! Save yourselves!!!

I think that one of the best things we moms can do when we’re sick is to give ourselves grace. The world will not actually end if we’re not in top form for a few hours. Or a few days. I ordered pizza and put in a movie. Nobody took a bath. Teeth got brushed, stories were read (accompanied by jokes about how mommy sounded funny), and I was in bed as soon as they were.

Somehow my defensive maneuvers worked and nobody else came down with the bug. Or maybe they started it. There are so many germs floating around this house in the winter that trying to pinpoint origins and assign blame is utterly futile. There are more than enough sneezes to go around.

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