To the parents during cold and flu season

Quick…what day is it?

Do you even remember? Probably not.

You’ve spent the last…you don’t even remember how long, holding trash cans out for tiny people, wiping noses, refilling the humidifier and spraying Lysol on every bare surface in your home. Which means that the fog in your brain is thicker than peanut butter.

Are you to the point where you are ready to hire a witch doctor? You’re on the phone and you’re calling a priest to come and anoint your home with a cross and some oil. You’re looking into payment plans so that you can buy everyone a hazmat suit for the months from October to March so that you don’t have to keep suffering through this every fall and winter.

Please. For the love. No more germs.

To the parents During Cold and Flu Season.

We just battled a stomach bug through Christmas. I spent the holiday lurched over a toilet, crying at the cruelty of some kind of virus. I was prepared to put a hit out on whoever infected me. I white knuckled it through the gift opening before I slunk back to my bedroom and holed myself up for two days of misery.

I realize that the older my kiddos get, the easier this season of germs and Tylenol becomes for us. Even just the tiniest bit.

I remember last year, though, when we had the flu. It was nearly a week and a half solid of high fevers, red tinged cheeks and glassy eyed children who couldn’t sleep. Children who cried because there was nothing else to do except for lay on the sofa and feel miserable.

By the end of nearly ten days of unrelenting illness, and after having sickness somewhere in our home off and on for the months before that, I felt like I had just trained for the Olympics after climbing Everest.

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I know the days well where a seemingly inconsequential runny nose turned into a high fever and cancelled plans two days later. Then it became an ear infection. Then bronchitis and clearing the schedule for the whole week – including that date night that we had been waiting two weeks for. Then the nebulizer got drug out, and we had to hold little arms down to even be able to rest the plastic mask on their face.

You can’t reason with children. You can’t get them to understand how one little thing might give them even the tiniest bit of relief. Everything that is normally a battle pales in comparison to the child who won’t even let you drape a cool rag on their forehead or who screams through a tepid bath at 4 a.m.

While the rest of the world enjoyed crisp fall days, or snowy winter afternoons out to lunch, I’ve been holed up at home, smelling my own funk because I couldn’t even remember the last time I showered, trying to battle a toddler to get even a millimeter of water in them.

How can a minor cold that I never used to give two thoughts to become the undoing of me and all sanity and reason in the world???!

I remember being out at 11 p.m. to dinner with friends. Now, I’m out at 11 p.m., walking through Walgreens in my three days old pajamas, buying Tylenol and powdered donuts while other shoppers stare at me like I’m a Sasquatch. I’ll tell you though, nothing builds self confidence faster than realizing that you don’t really care if two dozen other adults see you looking like you just got done raving at Coachella in the sweats you bought at Wal Mart.

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The world slept hard as a sick child lay on my chest as I rocked miles. As I gave baths at three a.m. because the fever that I thought had left crept back up while I was passed out in their glider rocker.

This is overtime for parents. Overtime that can last for weeks solid at a time.

And that’s not to mention what it’s like when we are sick while our children are healthy, and running miles around us while we melt and die on the sofa.

If I think back to my childhood, some of my most important memories were from when I was sick. I vividly remember my mother chasing my around the coffee table or trying to hide medicine in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She was just trying to get an antibiotic or some Dimetapp in me. Now, I want to slap four year old me hard. I was such an ingrate.

I remember my dad holding my hair when I was holding on for dear life to the beige toilet in my bathroom, throwing up my guts.

I realize that hey, my parents really DID love me. I mean, like, really REALLY love me. Enough to get near my vomit. Enough to let me sleep in their bed when my body was a furnace, and I’m sure I kicked the crap out of their sides all night and then woke them up early because I needed gingerale and cartoons.

Parents are sort of magical that way.

I wouldn’t clean up the Queen of England’s puke. But I’ll do it for my children.

So, in this season, parents, where play dates at Chick Fil A can result in a cold and fever three days later. Where you want to dump hand sanitizer all over your child, cancel every play date until April and fumigate your home because you can’t take one more day, one more germ. In yet another hectic season for you where something seemingly small becomes something insurmountable, you just have to remember one simple truth.

What you do matters.

The hands that care are the hands that say ‘I love you. Even enough to let you puke in my hair.’

In the early hours of the morning. At the doctors office on a Tuesday. At the side of their bed, or when rocking them to sleep.

It all matters.

The thaw will come. And a little sage cleansing never hurt anybody.

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