I’m the mom of a preschooler. Which means I’m used to having to shuffle my work schedule around my child’s sick schedule. Especially in the winter months.
These past few months I kept my little girl home sick from school an average of about once a week. There were fevers. Mornings she woke up vomiting. A runny nose and crusty eyes too gross to send her anywhere with. And after each and every bout of illness, there has been that inevitable 24 hours after a fever or vomiting where kids are still required to be kept home from school.
Even when they are otherwise totally well.
Here’s a fun fact about my daughter: She rarely acts sick. The kid caught the stomach flu in December, and I had to fight to keep her out of the refrigerator. She ran a 103° temperature for three days in a row in January, and spent the entire time bouncing off the walls. By the time she was actually well enough to let out of the house, she was so stir crazy that we were both miserable.
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My child constantly walks the line of being too sick to go to school, but not quite sick enough to just want to curl up and relax. It’s a line that most working mothers will tell you they truly dread.
As someone who owns her own business, I don’t get sick days. No one pays me to stay home with my little girl. So when she's walking that line of sick but not really sick, I’m usually left juggling the attention she’s begging for with the work that still needs to be done. It’s not ideal, and both of us tend to be pretty bitter by the end of those days.
We all have a lot on our shoulders, and unexpected sick-but-not-too-sick days just add to the pile of stress we’re carrying.
Look, none of us wants our kids to be sick. Our preference would be that they just stay healthy forever. But if they are going to be sick, and if we’re going to be home with them on a day we should otherwise be working, is it too much to ask that they be sick enough to relax a little? Or better yet, give us a chance to keep up with what work we can from home?
Even if I didn’t have to work, isn’t it kind of common sense to want to keep sick kids from expending too much energy? I don’t want to be chasing her around the house, I want to be serving us both popsicles and cuddling in for our third Disney movie of the day or putting her down for another nap. Because when I get sick, sleep is all I want to do. And usually when she’s sick, I’m on the cusp of catching whatever it is she has myself.
Why can’t we both just rest?!?
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And I know I’m not the only mom who feels that way. We all have a lot on our shoulders, and unexpected sick-but-not-too-sick days just add to the pile of stress we’re carrying.
Then again, I also know how lucky I am. My 4-year-old is mostly healthy and happy. She’s energetic and fun. She’s here. And she’s mine.
So if the biggest worry I have is another day home with her and a fever I know she’ll recover from, I try really hard to count my blessings and remember that there are worse things than a Tuesday spent playing with my little girl.
I don’t really want her to be more sick, I swear.
But I am looking forward to the day we get past this stage where she catches each and every bug preschool exposes her to.
That happens eventually, right?