Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Preparing for the Worst

I truly believe the #1 rule of parenthood should be that mothers are not allowed to get sick. Ever.

I will say that I don't get sick often, but when I do it's bad. Like, DEFCON 1.

A few weeks ago my husband was quite ill and we had to go to the doctor's office 5 or 6 times in a week. A doctor's office is a great place to pick up a plethora of ailments, I must say.  We finally had him on the road to recovery (albeit a long road, but a road nonetheless) and I had started to relax. I took the kids to a park, and then out to dinner. At the park, I thought I felt funny. Once at the restaurant I knew I was in for it. My stomach was making strange sounds and I couldn't swallow one bite of my favorite cheeseburger.

"Finish your food ASAP,"  I said, "We've got to go. Now."

These kids know when I'm serious. They flagged our server down and let her know we needed boxes, and we were out the door in 5 minutes flat.

My four children each take a different tactic when I'm ill, depending on the illness. The oldest feels sorry for me, but from afar. The second born is mainly concerned about contracting whatever illness I have so she also mostly stays away. My third is a boy at the age where he still adores me, so he'll do kind things for me. If it's a cold, I get tea and crackers and broth after begging for a fairly short amount of time. If I'm actually running a fever he will throw a towel, only slightly damp, over me and leave the Advil just out of my reach. Our fourth is only four, but he will bring me his Pooh bear, a pillow, and a cup of milk. The problem is they don't want to catch what I've had, or they've each had it and gotten over it and quickly forget how absolutely horrible they felt.

 However, if I've got the pukes no one will come within 30 feet of me. Well, once when Liam was three he hung out with me for all 3 main events, clapping and shouting, "Great job, Mommy!" Not so much now that he is four.

Now, my husband was so sick that he could barely move. He had a serious infection and was on 3 types of antibiotics, as well as pain pills. Once we got home I started scrubbing toilets (you need a clean canvas for Pete's sake) and tidying the kitchen.

"What are you doing?"  my husband called.

"Preparing for the worst,"  I answered. "I'm getting ready to launch like NASA, which means I'll be down for at least 24 hours, which means if I get it clean maybe they can keep it clean."

By 'they' I meant our four children, ages 15 to 4. Surely to goodness they could pull of 24 hours of being parented remotely.

The night was still young. Children paraded in and out of the guest room, where I had set up headquarters,  as if I were the Queen and they were coming to court. My boy wanted to stay the night at a friend's house, so he and his friends came in and out, passing me handwritten notes begging for an overnight. There were tears as I remained firm in my decision - we were going to need all hands on deck the next day and I didn't need a sleep deprived ten year old to deal with. The older girls know when to take advantage of a situation and began reminding me of money I supposedly owed them. I think I finally shouted, "Go. Leave a woman in peace before all the food I've eaten in the last twelve hours makes a re-appearance."

The kids went on to bed and I watched a movie while I waited for the final countdown.  My darling husband dragged himself from his sickbed to hold a wet washcloth to the back of my neck. That is love, people.

When I finally came to the next morning, around 10, the kids had already eaten breakfast (sugar cookies and pizza) and had a second breakfast (bowls of cereal and hot tea). Apparently they wanted me to know what they had eaten because the dishes were laying everywhere. I asked them to put their dishes into the dishwasher but received no acknowledgement.  So, I made gagging noises and boy did those kids move!  Nothing like the fear of your mother puking on you as motivation.

They cleaned up, I talked them through making chicken soup (open can, pour can in pan, heat) and then slept some more.

A couple of hours later they poked me with the end of a broom as the little guy poured tea over my head.

"What the heck?"  I asked.

"Are you awake?" the older ones asked.

"I made you tea, mommy," the youngest one said. Apparently he wasn't trying to waterboard me, but was attempting to give me sustenance. Tricky to tell sometimes.

"Mom, we have a problem,"  my oldest child said. I was worried. I had survived a stomach bug, and in the middle of it all my poor husband had driven himself to the emergency room after a serious case of hives (he looked like a klingon after battle), so I could only imagine the worst.

 "We're out of dishes."

"I'm sorry,"  I said, worried I had thrown up my brain and was not comprehending what was being said.

"No, it's true, Mom,"  my older daughter said somberly, "All the dishes are dirty. The pans, everything."

I rolled off the couch and crawled into the kitchen.

Well, those kids weren't kidding. There was a mountain of stainless steel, plastic containers, mugs, plates, and bowls. Sticking out sporadically was silverware, like decorations for the mountain. I think they must have gone to the neighbor's and used their pans, too. I must say, I was stunned.  These kids have daily chores that include loading and unloading the dishwasher.

Then it hit me. They were trying to cure me by scaring the virus out of me! Everyone knows that when a mother feels needed she is miraculously healed, right?

I attempted to get off the floor but my stomach let me quickly know that wasn't a great idea. I had the smallest kid bring me the pillow and beach towel from the living room so I could give directions from the kitchen floor. An hour later they were done, and used my towel to wipe up the floor.

Then I made my husband sign a contract agreeing that we would never, ever be sick at the same time again.

Later, when we were all saying goodnight, Spencer said, "Isn't it nice to be needed, Mom?"

Yes, yes it is.

1 comment:

  1. Love it and you are so right. Moms are not suppose to be sick. When I start getting sick my husband says "Go your room and don't come out until well." He then tells the kids "Keep the house clean and don't wake up the mom, I can't have her sick for more then a day." Fortunately my older twins who are now in their 20's are able to rangle the younger kids and keep my house from falling apart and when dad leaves for work my son becomes man of the house telling the kids to go to bed. It works.