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In Sickness, and Sickness, and…


Maybe I missed out on that chain of “mother lore stretching back to Eve” or maybe it’s been broken by modern life, but motherhood has been full of surprises that really shouldn’t have been surprises if I had a) thought about it, or b) been clued in by someone. Not wanting to be too harsh on myself (hey, I’ve got kids, self-criticism will be superfluous when we hit those fun teen years), I’ll blame not being clued in by whomever.
One of the things that surprised me? Young kids get sick – all the time. I don’t mean serious stuff (knocking wood here) but simply the garden variety, or rather, infinite variety, of colds and flu and their variations and offshoots. Since I’m obviously somewhat ignorant on this subject, I’ve invited Moral Certainty Mommy, the mom in the know, to answer questions.
Q: My daughter has been sick 43 times this winter. I counted. And every time she gets sick she has to stay home for a while and she needs extra attention and I’ve got to rearrange my whole schedule and sometimes we don’t leave the house for a month and I feel like I’m going crazy.
MCM: Yes.
Q: I am going crazy?
MCM: Perhaps. I’m afraid that’s beyond the scope of this advice column to answer. I will tell you though, that if you go crazy it will be much as a great artist or mathematician does, sinking into the amazing, innumerable offerings of a world only he or she perceives. You can see the cold in all its glorious variety, the cold in the head, in the chest, the cold that produces coughs or phlegm, that turns into something serious, that fades away to nothing, that makes your child tired, that makes her restless, all of it, it’s all there laid out for your study. I salute you. In fact, I plan to head out for a glass of wine soon to do so.
Q: My kids always seem to be sick, but my friend’s kids never get sick – she’s starting to look at me like I’m some kind of Munchausen’s by proxy whack job. But it’s not my fault. Is it?
MCM: One hopes not. I assume you’ve tried the standard recommendations of progressive hand washing procedures, children’s dosages of echinacea, vitamin c therapy and a carefully calibrated, full-time, anti-illness diet and exercise regime for them. If so, you can have nothing to reproach yourself with. A mother must do everything she can to keep her children healthy. With my own, I found that only carefully administered doses of sunlight throughout the winter could keep them healthy. Through personal trial and error I discovered this sunlight had to be reflecting off a Caribbean beach and so I took it upon myself to supervise extensive health maintenance regimes there. But these are the sacrifices we mothers make.
Q: Here’s how it works in my house: I only get sick after my kids and husband are already sick, so no one’s left to take care of me. And I don’t get to rest. What can I do?
MCM: Remember, children are resilient creatures as well as creatures of habit. The routine of day care or school can be soothing when they’re not feeling well. Send them off. You need only disguise their symptoms enough to get them in the door, and then simply avoid answering the telephone the rest of the day. Husbands likewise are resilient, and creatures of habit. But they must develop proper habits. Every time he mentions a symptom he has, you must say you have the same thing, but twice as bad. He will soon learn not to say anything. And you will have the days of bed rest you so badly need to allow you to continue to be the font of support for your family.
Moral Certainty Mommy is off to give her tender care to someone ill, so we’ll say goodbye until next time.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 10:30 AM | Permalink

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