There's some strange comfort in reading about the flu epidemic on the news and then glancing around my house at the piles of laundry, the burgeoning pharmacy that is my kitchen counter, the permacrust of snot that rings my son's face, and knowing I have some solidarity in numbers.
It's been two full weeks of wiping up snot, mopping up vomit from all that snot, coaxing medicine down throats raw from coughing, 2 AM trips to Walgreens, 3 AM panic that he's not breathing, and daily, nearly incessant dancing to Living La Vida Loca/Just Dance 4 on the Wii because it is - of course it is - the only thing that gives Declan pleasure. (Maybe me just a little) What we do for our germy, flu chewed-up children.
Harlow was the first to fall. As soon as she was well enough to return to school, some ice fell to the ground and school was cancelled. None of the fevers she ran could touch the cabin kind. Finally no ice on the ground, no flu in her body, and Harlow was free like a bird out of the house, just in time for her little brother to start running a fever. Fortunately Harlow's symptoms were pretty mild. Declan has been flu's punching bag for nearly a week. I'm desperately grateful that we've avoided trips to the ER, that his fever hasn't reached panic-inducing levels. But these nightly coughing fits followed by his whimpers of pain are the worst sounds I've ever heard.
As hard as the two weeks have been, I've been largely ruled by a peace that, unpoetically, this is what it is. My life isn't on hold. I'm not being punished. This is just me taking care of my sick kid, holding him when he cries, trying to make him laugh when he's not.
And then daddy comes home and the kid wants NOTHING to do with me. Screams and cries if I try to hold him.
And I will love this child with his vomit and crusty-face and I will wash his sheets and I will comfort him the best way I know how. But I will tell you, unequivocally, I am not afraid to flip a baby off. Behind his sweet ungrateful back, of course, when he's running to Daddy.