When I was a little girl and I was sick, my parents would make our living room couch up like a bed. They'd drape a bed sheet over the whole thing and bring my pillow out. I get tucked in with a big blanket and the coffee table would be pulled close; covered with popsicles, 7Up, and toast. They fetched me a cold wash cloth when I got too hot and a warm washcloth to hold over my nose when I got all stuffed up. If I started feeling nauseous, they brought over the trashcan and rubbed my back and pushed back my hair from my face over and over until I fell asleep.
And now that I'm a momma, when I'm sick it usually means my baby is sick too. So, I choke down daytime, non-drowsy meds with a cup of coffee while trying to wrestle my squirming child to the ground so I can wipe the stream of snot off of his face and then use the same tissue to take a swipe at my running nose. I call the daycare for the second time this week to tell them that the baby will not be coming today because he has a fever. I build forts out of blankets so that he will feel like sitting still and resting because my little boy still wants to play even when he's sick which only makes him tired and angry.
I take a five minute shower before my son wakes up screaming with a fever from his nap. I fight through the dizziness and stuffiness while I slap on a clown-happy face and sing to get him to stop fussing while I change his diarrhea filled diaper. I stand over the pot of steam to try to clear out my sinuses while I'm whipping up some soup to hydrate my sick family. I fall asleep while feeding the baby only to wake up to the dog throwing up on the carpet. I tiptoe out of the baby's room and close the door in hopes he'll get some much needed rest only to remember I forgot to fill the humidifier back up. I rub Vicks VapoRub on my neck and let the dog lick the rest off of my hands. I silently curse the garbage man for enticing my dog to start barking which then woke up the baby early from his nap. I dig to the bottom of our freezer to pull out a freeze pop from last summer. I attempt to give it to the baby, but I finally give in and let the baby eat as many puffs as he wants because its the only thing he's willing to eat today. I rub Vaseline on the baby's cheeks and under his nose to try to ease his poor, sweet, chapped skin.
I call the doctor and tell him that he needs to call in some medicine because there is no reason my child should be coughing like a sixty year old lifetime smoker. I call my husband and tell him to pick up the prescription for the penicillin, please. I let him play in the bath until his toes turn to raisins because the steam is clearing up his nose and thats the only time I've seen his happy smile all day. I lay him down into bed and push the hair back from his face over and over. I turn the humidifier on full blast and sneak out. I check that he's breathing three times before I go to bed because now I'm paranoid that he might be allergic to penicillin. I gulp down a full shot of nighttime liquid cold medicine. I wake up, astonished that even a cold medicine shooter can't keep my baby's cry out of my slumber. It's 3am and the baby's fever finally broke and he's screaming for a bottle - finally he's hungry. I make a bottle and in a state of zombiedom feed the baby, then tiptoe out of his room and collapse into bed. I dream of popsicles and laying on my parents' couch.
Why do the cliches have to always be true?
To that little girl that used to get her hair pushed back from her face over and over,
you don't know what you got till its gone.
Love, the one who now pushes hair back from her own child's face over and over.
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