25: Mamas Don’t Get Sick

25: Mamas Don’t Get Sick

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Mamas Don’t Get Sick

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.

~Author Unknown

This has been the longest winter of my life. It started the day I remarked to a friend how healthy the kids had been. Now, I can’t remember a time when one of them wasn’t sick with something. They started with the nasal cruds. They all had it and passed it back and forth for a few weeks. It traveled from their sinuses to their chests and back again. We played musical humidifiers and bought Kleenex by the case.

From there we had a bout with a relentless stomach thing. We went from forgetting what the inside of our pediatrician’s office looked like, to a standing appointment every Monday. (What is it with sick children and weekends?)

About the time we were back on solid foods, we began our strep throat marathon. Every few days, just as I began to breathe a sigh of relief, I’d hear the words I’d come to dread. “Mommy, my throat hurts.”

But through it all, I’d managed to keep myself well. And, at last, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kids were back in school and the baby was on a semi-normal schedule. That’s when it hit me! The flu! I can’t do this, I thought. I’m the one who keeps this show on the road. I don’t have an understudy! I tried ignoring it.

It came on with achy muscles, cold chills, and hot sweats. It drained me of my energy and completely shut down my brain. All I could think about was crawling under the covers and never coming out. I’m not sure how I made it through the morning. The afternoon was a blur. By four o’clock, I used the last bit of strength I had to call my husband David at his office. My plan was to beg him to come home and bury me in a shallow grave in the back yard. As soon as he heard my voice, he said, “I’ll be right home.” I would have cried if I’d had the energy.

I collapsed on the couch where I could see the kids and waited for the crunch of his tires on the driveway. As soon as I heard it, I lurched toward the bedroom and aimed myself toward the bed. When I opened my eyes, again, it was dark outside. The house was quiet. I listened for the sound of “Daddy play.” You know how it works. They start off wrestling. The noise level gets louder and louder. Then, someone gets hurt or too sleepy or overly excited and everyone runs for Mom. I waited for the stampede to head my way and started mustering the strength to resume my duties.

I must have dozed off again, because the next thing I knew, it was morning. I felt human, again — even hungry. Must have been a twenty-four-hour bug, I thought. Thank God! I headed out of the bedroom bracing myself for the mess that awaited me. The family room wasn’t bad. My eyes scanned it critically. Those blocks didn’t go in that bucket. I walked into the kitchen and saw the pots washed but still sitting in the dish drain. David had swept the floor but left the broom and dustpan leaning against the kitchen wall. Then, I saw the kids sitting around the table. David, who to my knowledge couldn’t boil water, had thrown together a breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice. Molly was dressed in an outfit she’d outgrown last year. She looked like she’d brushed her own hair and Haley’s shoes were on the wrong feet. They spotted me and began to smile. David stood with a skillet in one hand grinning, as though he held a dozen roses. Shame on me for picking apart his efforts.

No, the house wasn’t the way I would have had it. But he’d taken the time to straighten it up. He’d kept the kids quiet so I could sleep and he even cooked. The man who never misses a day of work was standing in front of me on a Wednesday in jeans and a sweatshirt ready to spend the day filling my shoes. Suddenly I felt loved — completely, unconditionally, and profoundly loved. I’d hoped to feel indispensable. But instead I felt appreciated. I’d tried to be disappointed. But instead felt lucky — lucky to have been sick, lucky to have a family that loves me so much, and was glad for a chance to prove it.

I’m back on my feet now and waiting to find out to whom I’ve passed my flu germs. I have my thermometer ready and have restocked the Kleenex supply. Bring it on, whatever’s next. We can handle it. Summer will be here, soon, and with it the end of the longest winter of our lives.

 

~Mimi Greenwood Knight

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