Sometimes parenting is like walking into the surf during a hurricane. You keep getting knocked down, you keep getting back up, and just when think to yourself, “I’ve got this one, I’m still standing,” a bigger wave comes along and knocks you on your ass. I guess I was expecting my kids to get sick a lot in the first few years. What I wasn’t expecting was the number of ailments I myself would be afflicted with. It’s one thing balancing toddler twins and working. I’m pretty sure that alone would be somewhat manageable. Add in to the mix that those toddler twins are sick, and the odds start stacking against me. Those giant waves just keep coming. Now add in that I somehow manage to repeatedly get even sicker than they are, and just for good measure, sprain my ankle as well. Now we’re moving into the realm of a tsunami.
Last week, Seth and I flew down to Florida with the kids to visit grandma and grandpa. It’s been a year since we last attempted this, and the last time I swore I would never, ever do it again. But alas, like a fool, I gave in and went back for more! The first day we were there was miraculous. It actually felt like being on vacation. We took the kids to the beach, and they actually played in the sand and had fun in the water. O still ate quite a bit of sand, but significantly less than last year. We took the kids to an indoor playground, and out to dinner, and finished the night of with my favorite treat… ice cream. Ahhhh. Ok, I’m thinking, maybe this time really WILL be different. But as soon as that thought grazed my mind, a foreboding feeling came over me. After all, you can’t just pause a hurricane.
It was only a few short hours later when my poor little O started barfing up her guts. Another 24 hours later, myself, grandma, and grandpa were puking our guts out too. Seth, and Uncle weren’t feeling so hot either, and J was clearly not himself. Those few days were rough, but we still managed to eek out a few fun outings here and there. That said, the morning after I spend most of the night hurling was one of the hardest yet since the twins were born. I woke up at 5:50 a.m. and despite hardly being able to move, “watched” my kids while the rest of the house slept past 11 a.m. The only way I can say I got through that five hours was literally one minute at a time. One waves goes, you catch your breath, another one comes. Every time I have to do childcare sick as a dog, I tell myself, this isn’t fair to me, I need to work it out so I never have to do this again. But I do. Because that’s. what we do. We get up, and get up, and get up again and walk right into that hurricane. We have no choice, so we do it.
On Friday, Seth and I left for a weekend cruise we had won (we can’t afford a trip we actually pay for), and left the kids with grandma and grandpa. Although I felt mostly better physically, I never quite got over the feeling that my babies were going to think I’d left them for good. Further, it was with grandma and grandpa that O had injured her foot earlier in the summer (yes, her foot, my foot, and Seth sprained his ankle this summer too). Come on!! Am I cursed or something?
Well everyone survived the cruise, and the kids seemed to be feeling better. Monday night we flew home. By the time I went to bed that night, I wasn’t feeling so hot again. I could feel the post nasal drip starting up and the malaise setting in. It was the same symptoms I’d had for almost a month in July during the course of two respiratory infections, one of which the kids also had. The next day, I worked until 9 pm. It’s amazing to me that a person can be that sick and manage to appear normal and function at work. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. That night I slept 13 hours, got up, and did the whole thing again, working until 9. In the meantime, J has contracted the infection as well, and O is sniffling now.
Sometimes it’s like everywhere you turn there’s one of those waves fixing to knock you out. Can’t afford not to work, can’t afford extra childcare so I can take better care of myself, so I can not get sick as much, so I can work when I’m supposed to and not need extra childcare. I understand that having kids means having more germs around, but I can’t quite figure out how having kids makes a whole family more prone to foot injuries??
I’ve always been a busy, fast-paced person. A friend of mine likes to joke “You’ve got a lot going on, man.” She’s been saying this to me almost ten years! The joke is, I’ve always got a lot going on. So am I frazzled, and maybe not paying as much attention, and drained, and tired? Yes, but it seems to be catching up to me in a way it didn’t when it was just Seth and I.
So it’s time once again to take my wanderlust and file it under it’s just not worth-it right now. Three days on a germ-infested cruise ship with a pit in my stomach because I wasn’t reachable by cell phone will have to do for now. Today, entertaining my kids in the CVS parking lot while I waited for our antibiotic prescriptions and tried not to lost consciousness was plenty exotic!
I know someday I’ll be back out there, letting my passion for wandering fun wild again. And it will be freeing and feel worthwhile again, but I also know a part of me will never be completely free. Just as a part of me now desperately longs to take a plane ride without a squirming miserable toddler on my lap sucking up every germ in the cabin, there will be a part of me that would trade that for a worn down body, a limping foot, a one-minute-at-a-time existence, and two sweet little stuffed up beings curled up in my lap, wiping their snot on my jeans. I think children are the kind of storm whose beauty we can only fully appreciate after it passes.
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