Flu season is upon us. Flu shots, Vitamin C and hot green tea with honey can help keep the symptoms at bay….for awhile. But, even if you lucked out before, at some point it is inevitable that the flu will wreak havoc through your household. Vaccines, vitamins and all-natural remedies (can I get a what what for my neti pot?) can support your immune system functions, but they’re not magical potions.
I’m generally opposed to parents complaining about anything related to taking care of their own children. Sleep deprived? No personal space? Have to play with your kids and teach them stuff? And you’re STILL expected to clean your own house? Yeah, shut up. That’s what you signed up for. There are plenty of people out there without kids who have other responsibilities that result in them feeling just as tired and stressed out. And, don’t even get me started on the many who are struggling to conceive who would do anything to have our so-called “problems”.
Except there’s this. Being sick when you have children is a specific type of agony.
Uh huh. You parents know what I’m talking about. Being sick is never fun, but when you’re a parent, it brings the misery to a whole other level. Here’s why:
1) You can’t rest. Back in the day when you were sick, you’d stay in bed all day feeling sorry for yourself, sleep for hours on end, and give your body some time to heal. You might manage to summon the energy to call your mom or your significant other to ask for a home delivery of saltines and ginger ale. But, once you’re a parent, there is no resting in bed. You still need to feed your children, get them ready for school, and then feed them AGAIN for dinner (they’re so demanding). You also need to make sure they don’t flush all of their toys down the toilet or impale themselves with a shish kabob skewer they pull from a kitchen drawer. You trying to “take it easy” is exhausting and physically demanding.
2) You don’t get any sympathy. In the PK (pre-kid) era, your spouse used to feel bad when you got sick. They’d make you chicken soup, take your temperature and say sweet things like, “Feel better, babe!”. Nowadays when you mention your scratchy throat, or cough extra loudly for attention, your significant other just responds by getting pissed off. Gone are the days of getting special treatment and here to stay are the times of getting leered at with disgust and a growled, “Don’t get sick” request/threat. Because chances are, if you’re sick, so are they. Or, at least on the verge and you being sick means more work, and more exhaustion, for them.
3) Your body never actually gets a chance to heal. In the past, an infection would run its course, and be in and out of your system in a jiffy. No, back then a few days didn’t FEEL like a jiffy, but now you have the perspective to realize that your body used to heal itself with lightening speed. These days, your immune system is less efficient than the federal government, and you’re lucky if that seemingly harmless cold doesn’t linger for weeks, or more. A virus that doesn’t mutate into a lethal condition is reason to celebrate. I’m quite certain that the white blood cell count of parents are at a perpetually statistically significant level of elevation, compared to non-parents.
4) You might infect your poor child. It’s not just about you anymore. Nothing is worse than a sick child. In contrast to being completely pissed off when it comes to your spouse being sick, you have nothing but sympathy for your little one. When your spouse gets sick, don’t be surprised if you alternate between thoughts of, “Help me out you lazy bum!” and, “Get away from the baby – what are you trying to do, kill your own offspring?!”
5) You will probably get infected by your poor child if you have escaped contamination thus far. This sucks for multiple reasons. For one, you probably got infected while having face the repugnant task of cleaning up a bunch of puke from the kitchen floor, from the kid’s car seats, or – the worst – out of the heat vent when your kid leans over the side of the bed to puke in the middle of the night. Great placement, kid! You earn some parenting bonus points if this happens when you’re sitting on the side of the bed, placing a cool dishcloth on your germy bundle of joy’s head, and some of it splatters on your face/lap/in your own mouth. Not only does this make you sick in the Stand By Me sort of a way, but it exponentially increases the chances of you becoming actually infected, and from the looks of it, possibly with Ebola. If this happens to you, suck it up and don’t expect any niceties from your spouse until Spring.