And the second one’s down.
On Day 2 of Daughter the Elder’s full-blown cold, Daughter the Younger came down with a fever, congestion, and middle-of-the- night barfing, thereby making me very aware of three realities:
1. There are very few things that can shake a mother up like witnessing that horrible glassy-eyed stare of a child with a fever. You know it’s coming–she suddenly has no appetite, she keeps shoving her fist against her mouth, she’s begging for hugs like a child faced with the mall Santa at Christmastime. But then the fever hits, and the alarm on the thermometer goes off, and you reach for the medication, and your heart is racing. The. Pits.
2. Barfing is gross, especially when your poor child is too young to get to a bucket/toilet/trash can before she barfs, and she’s forced to crawl through it before she starts crying for you. It’s really gross. And when the child who just emptied the contents of her stomach all over her face and hands wants to give you grateful kisses, well, what are you going to do, except kiss her back and fully expect to be throwing up yourself when the germs kick in in two to three days.
3. The last reality is more superficial: if you’re a stay-at-home parent, it’s not until your child is sick that you truly are stay-at-home. Like most moms, I’m on the go with my girls a lot: preschool, activities, the library, playdates (though those are lots fewer now that that pesky preschool thing is in the way, and yes, I still hate that word), errands. I go stir-crazy if I’m inside the house for longer than 36 hours.
We’re now on Hour 52. Help. Me.
There are chores I could do around the house, yes. I could deep-clean behind the oven. I could organize the slew of photos digitally piled up in the dusty back corners of my computer. I could clean out that damned-darned coat closet by the front door that is so messy and disorganized it holds everything from wrapping paper (oh, to be like Tori Spelling’s mom and have a room just for gift-wrapping. No, I’m not kidding, on either end: yes, she has a wrapping-paper room, and yes, I totally want one) to old photo albums to a box marked “Teaching Materials” I haven’t opened since 2008. Trust me, it’s messy. Just ask my friend Molly: She’s seen it, opening it by accident in search of her coat at a party. She screamed. Actually, she screamed, then slid the door closed so fast you’d think we were hiding a skeleton in there (get it? A skeleton, in the closet? And not just because it’s Halloween? Hardeehar!).
So I guess I should get to that. But I won’t. My children are sick. And I’m going to do what my mom did when I was sick, which is tuck a blanket over them on the couch, and let them watch as much TV as they want, and keep them in steady supply of juice and soup and all those hugs they keep requesting.
There will be snot. And a lot of tissues. And I will undoubtedly get sneezed on, coughed on, and used as a mom-sized handkerchief. But I won’t do any of my chores. Nah. I’ll probably plop down on the couch with them, watching Toy Story 3 or Trust Thomas for the 78th time (they may not watch a lot of TV, but when they do, it’s the exact. same. thing.). Maybe I’ll fold some laundry for good measure. But most likely, I will be there, adjusting blankets, refilling juice cups, trying not to grimace as yet another young girl manages to wipe her mucus-y nose all over my shirt.
And I will try very hard not to take note that it will by Day 3 of our virus-induced house arrest. Because what do I really need to do that can’t wait? Seriously, Target will be there. But when one child is laying her head on my lap, asking when she’ll start to feel better, and the other has wrapped her little hands around my sides just to lean her head against my shoulder (yes, at the same time), I don’t really want to be anywhere else, really, especially running errands or organizing ancient lesson plans.
Just don’t tell Molly, okay? It’s getting colder out, and she really needs that coat.