It’s day 4 of my cold and frankly, like all parents, I don’t have time to be sick. There’s laundry to be done, dishes to be washed and nappies to be changed.
And like all working parents, I still have to go to work. Despite knowing I needed to rest, I hauled my butt to work today, not because I’m a superwoman, but because I need to save my sick days for the times when Aidan is in hospital. I also needed to prove to my boss that despite calling in sick to work more often than I’d like (at least once each time Aidan is in hospital), I truly am a hard and dedicated worker. I know I’m not alone in this. Other parents store up their sick days so they can stay home when their child is sick or so they can attend school sports carnivals or concerts every so often. So we trudge on, infecting our colleagues and feeling guilty about it, all to save those precious sick days.
The worst thing about being sick is not the body aches, runny nose and headaches, it’s the mother guilt. I hate being sick (just ask my husband) and I tend to get a little snappy at both him and Aidan.
I also say no a lot more because I simply don’t have the energy.
“No, mummy can’t kick the ball with you.”
“No, mummy can’t get the painting out”.
I’m sure most parents feel the same way. However, when you are never sure how long you have with your child, it’s heartbreaking. What if I don’t get to make it up to him when I feel better? What if this is my last chance to kick the ball? It’s a constant battle between needing to rest to get over this “bloody” cold and wanting to be functioning at 100% all of the time. Being sick is never fun but when it robs you of the precious time you have with your child it can be utterly unbearable.
Then there’s the infection side of things. I worry that I’ll pass it on to Aidan and he won’t be able to fight it. Should I quarantine myself at my parents’ house? Aidan will only go to sleep when I am holding him and, to be honest, I like that. Should I not hold him to protect him from my germs? For parents of a terminally ill child, getting sick risks giving your child a death sentence.
Anthony is already sick and now Aidan has a snuffly nose, I really hope we’ll be germ-free soon, for all our sakes.
UPDATE: Two days after posting this Aidan was admitted to hospital with a high fever. After spending a night in the emergency department, not knowing whether he would pull through, I was glad I had kept that sick day up my sleeve!