Moms aren’t allowed to get sick. Lori Duff Writes about how she went against the rules, got sick anyway, and ended up with a Parenting Win.
I have no time to get sick. No time at all. I don’t know about you, but there are only 24 hours in my day. Laundry doesn’t fold itself, phone calls don’t make themselves, paperwork doesn’t do itself and file itself, and children of all ages need hand holding and encouragement and comforting. It is not on most Moms’ list of options to get anything more dicey than the sniffles.
And yet we are humans, and it happens. A week and change ago was my son’s Bar Mitzvah. (Or, as we call it around here, the Big BM.) The weekend before was another friend had a Big BM of his own, and in addition to the normal public contact I have, I spent the weekend in close quarters with good friends. Including the friends of my children, wonderful, affectionate, well-behaved little germ factories that they are.
I guess because of my high tolerance for shenanigans and my inability to feel shame of any kind while making a fool of myself, my children’s friends seem to like me. So, when Jacob’s friend Annie started a trend called “nose cuddling” I went along for the ride. Annie rubs the tip of her nose against my cheek and when she is finished, gives me a little blast of nose air. It sounds grosser typed out than it actually is. No boogers are exchanged in the transaction, even if there are fifty billion airborne pathinogens. It is affectionate, and cute, and intimate, and it feels much like a cat scenting me. Often, Annie and Jacob will get me on either side and double nose cuddle me. Their mutual friend Ali will join in, together or separately, now that it has been established as a ‘thing.’ [And here, for reasons beknownst only to me and Annie, I am contractually obligated to make the following statement: Annie gives the best nose cuddles.] The other Moms thought I was nuts. I thought it was a parenting win.
So anyway, I got a lot of nose cuddles from Ali and Annie and Jacob the weekend before the Big BM. On Monday, Ali announced her diagnosis with strep throat. Fab-u-licious! We sat back and did everything we could to make sure that the other shoe would not drop. After all, Jacob had to sing in Hebrew for the better part of two hours in front of a crowd of a hundred fifty friends and relatives, and we both had to give speeches. Getting sick was NOT an option. We took vitamin C. We drank orange juice. We made matzoh ball soup (and, I need to remind you, I am an authentic, purebred Jewish mother, so I know how to make chicken soup.) We went to bed early. We both got the sniffles, but no fevers and nothing strep-y. We each got through the day in question without health being an issue.
And then it was over. For months, I had slept, ate, breathed, and thought about precious little else than the Big BM. On Sunday, when we came home from the hotel and kissed the last of family goodbye and unloaded everything from the car, I felt the magnetic pull of my own mattress and crashed face first with my makeup, jewelry, and shoes still on and I didn’t get up for another four hours.
Since then, it has been down hill in the health department. I have gotten steadily sicker. I allowed myself to sleep in on Monday, not that it did me any good. I ate soup, drank Dayquil and Nyquil, I neti-potted my sinuses, I rested when I could . Nothing made me feel better. My breath, as my daughter so dramatically put it, “smelled like Ebola.” Still, I soldiered on, because really, what choice did I have?
Not much of one. I had promised to help out Ali’s Mom with all the food and clean up for Ali’s Bat Mitzvah, the weekend after my son’s. I pride myself on being reliable. If I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it, not mater how much plague I spread. I washed my hands raw and dramatically often to avoid spreading whatever I had. I kept hoping that someone would say, “You look terrible. Why don’t you sit down and don’t even breathe near the food.” But no one did. So I soldiered on, doing a fantastically lousy job. The simple task of laying brownies out on a plate was beyond my capabilities.
By the time the service was over, the luncheon was served and put away, and the party began, I was completely wiped. But Ali, who I am here contractually obligated to say “will always be my favorite” is worth pushing through. My plan was to sit, eat my catered food, and let the party drift by me.
Then the DJ played “Brick House.” I had to rally for that one, and waggle my Brick House of a back side along with a group of about six other middle aged women. I sat back down and took a nap. To the outside observer, I was sitting quietly minding my own business. In reality, I was wandering around the cobwebby nether regions of my brain, completely somewhere else. I was vaguely aware of the DJ playing games with the kids, and trying to get grownups to participate. And then, despite the fact that there were approximately 100 other people over the age of 18 in the room, somehow I found myself being dragged out of my chair and wrapped in toilet paper like a mummy, stuck with stickers, and marked upon. I was actually happy when they wrapped toilet paper over my head and blocked my vision. I closed my eyes and checked out for a moment more, standing in the middle of the dance floor. Pictures were taken. I was thanked for being a good sport.
In the car on the way home, I laid my head against the window, fantasized about my bed and sleeping in the next day, and asked my children why I had to be picked. “Because,” my daughter said. “Everyone likes you. You’re a cool Mom.”
And that, my friends, made me feel much, much better.
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