Sick Kids

110113_Jaffe-MaayanOh, the sounds of coughs and sniffles. The scent of regurgitated dinners and sour milk.

It’s winter. And winter always means colds and flus and stomach viruses — no matter how many times I use Lysol on the handles (and even on the crevices of the bath and showers), no matter how much antibacterial I pour on little hands and despite the decree that no child may leave my home without a winter coat, hats and gloves.

It is only the first week of December, and already the temperatures are frigid. Last Sunday night, I spent the whole night up with three sick kids; two with a 24-hour stomach virus and another one complaining of a treacherous head cold. By the time I switched my fourth load of laundry I was begging for the morning to come. It was exhausting for me, but it was also so sad to watch.

My 6-year-old, who is hypersweet and tremendously sensitive, was sitting against three pillows in my bed watching me drowsily fold a basket of clothes.

“I’m sorry, Mommy.”

“What are you sorry for?”

“Because I keep throwing up and that makes you have to do more work.”

“It’s not your fault that you’re sick, honey. I love you so much.”

She just melts me. I wished I really could make her better with my mommy kisses. Instead, I sat there feeling helpless; there was very little I could do to keep my adorable daughter — and her toddler baby sister — from turning into a pile of frowny mush.

What I find amazing about having sick kids is how you are constantly doing something, but nothing gets done. If you have a sick kid and
believe that you are going to stay home with her and accomplish all the things you’ve been wanting to get done on a day off, think again. A
sick-kid day is like being on those spinning tea cups, a constant circling between the bathroom, the bedroom, the kitchen and the laundry room. If you’re lucky, you’ll get 15 minutes to run out to the pharmacy to pick up the Pedialyte.

Admittedly, I was fortunate. The kiss of sick started Sunday night, so I could prepare for Monday. The worst is the dreaded daycare call.

I should be expecting it, because it always comes at the same time, at the minute I am knee-deep in the most important article I’ve ever written or at the first chance I have to breathe after a series of meetings. And it always happens the same way: The phone rings. “Preschool” pops up on the caller ID.  I panic — “Is my little one hurt?” Fever, the teacher says.

I want to be the mom who is eager to get there; she needs me. But let’s be honest, fellow moms, at that moment, all we can think about is the all-encompassing inconvenience of having to unexpectedly pick said child up from the place where she’s supposed to spend her day.

I hate it.

I loathe the moment when I realize I have to stop what I’m doing, shut down my computer and leave work. Taking care of a sick child is much harder than a desk job.

But they are only young once. And somehow, all of our best memories are of Mom making tea with honey and gently rubbing our foreheads.

I guess that project will just have to wait until tomorrow …

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief
mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

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