For the past few weeks, Slacker Mom has been on illness-induced hiatus. From everything. Since Thanksgiving, we've struggled through sinus infections, seasonal flu,unspecified viral illness (doctor code for, "Sorry, Ma'am, we really don't have a clue what's wrong with your kids, so keep bringing them back every 2 days until we figure it out. And thanks for the $20 co-pay each time!"), and a bout of pneumonia that landed my youngest in the hospital in the middle of the night (and prompted the ER pediatrician to try to talk me into going to medical school when I am, and I quote, "done raising your kids." Really? When I'm done raising my kids, I'm taking a nice, long vacation to Fiji and not leaving a forwarding address.) I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to disinfect the House of Germs; trying to do my Christmas shopping with two sick kids under feet (note to online manufacturers: do NOT put your company name on the outside of the box!); rescheduling everything other than kids' doctor's appointments; taking the "perfect" Christmas card photo despite illness, a reluctance to wear Christmas jammies ("Too babyish! Duh, Mom!") and a complete refusal to put on a fancy dress (with a bow! Oh, the horror!); and baking dozens of cookies without letting Germ Girl or her sister, Infection Incubator, anywhere near the bowl of dough. I'm beat, and I haven't even wrapped a single gift. And my mother-in-law is due in two days. I'm just thankful my husband hasn't caught anything. We all know how much fun THAT is.
I'm even rethinking my intimate relationship with Purell. It's just not working for me. I'm nearly ready to embrace my mom's philosophy on germs. You know, the credo of mothers who raised their kids in the 1970s and can't believe all this "nonsense" about cleanliness, car seats, and lead paint. She loves to remind me that there was no Purell, no antibiotic hand soap, no drug-resistant bacteria, and heck, we hardly ever remembered to wash our hands. She firmly embraced the five-second rule. When someone got the chicken pox, every mom in the neighborhood sent her kids over to play and just catch it already and be done with it. We came home from the hospital in her arms, not an armor-plated infant protection system with side air bags and memory foam. We ate lunch (without ice packs and mini bottles of hand sanitizer)out of Spider Man and Wonder Woman (her boobs flying everywhere)lunch boxes coated in lead paint. And we used plastic bags to hold our Cheetos, Oreos, and peanut butter sandwiches, not BPA-free re-usable containers - and no one was overweight, allergic to peanuts, or diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. But I digress.
So here I've been, stuck at home. I haven't left my house in two weeks, except to go to the hospital, the pediatrician's office, or the pharmacy. I've watched every Christmas special on my DVR, and I can recite all the words to every single Phineas and Ferb episode on any of the 3 Disney Channels that DirecTV so thoughtfully provides. I've memorized dosages for Tylenol and Motrin by age and weight, speak medical-ese with confidence and authority (thus the "just chuck it all and go to medical school" comment), and the receptionists at the pediatrician's office know my voice and recognize my number on their caller ID. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in weeks, and my poor husband is getting pretty sick himself - of sharing our bed with a feverish child night after night after night.
But here's what I got out of it: It could have been worse. And things can only get better.
While I'm sitting up nights watching my sick daughter simply breath, I've been thinking about parents with truly sick, terminally-ill children, the ones who won't be home for Christmas - parents who are watching their kids die and can't do anything about it. I've been thinking about mothers who don't know how they'll pay for their kids' medical bills or find time to shop for their other children in time for Christmas. I've been thinking about mothers with kids at war, who don't know when - or even if - they'll see their children again.
And I feel pretty damn lucky. I got off easy. A few trips to the ER, a couple hundred dollars in co-pays, but my kids will recover fully from these fairly minor scrapes, and I'll get back to "normal" soon enough.
Slacker Mom Says...it's so easy to get bogged down in the "my life is so hard" rut. We've all been there. And it IS hard, this parenting thing. It's dirty and messy and inconvenient and heart-breaking and exhausting, and sometimes it's downright scary. But it could ALWAYS be worse. No matter what I'm going through, I have reasons to be thankful. No matter how bad things get, I still have my babies to hug and kiss and annoy me with their middle-of-the-night appearances. And for that, I'm grateful. So I'll take my mom's (unsolicited) advice with a grain of salt (and maybe a very large margarita) and keep doing what we moms do: take care of our kids the best we can, and be grateful for each and every day with them. Living the dream, ladies, we're living the dream.