Love in the Time of a Stomach Bug: When Parenting Isn’t Fun

Read next

My daughter got hit with the stomach flu last week. We spend almost five days indoors—her on the couch and me hovering with fluids and other remedies. It completely threw us for a loop because this year, when it comes to illness, we’ve been lucky. Having two kids in a school environment and living in Dallas (where temperatures have been known to dive-bomb from 80 degrees to 30 degrees in an eight-hour span) means plenty of cold, flu, and stomach bugs waiting to invade our little universe and this year my family has dealt with a total of maybe six colds between the four of us. Oh yes, we’ve been lucky.

And since we’ve been so lucky, this crazy bug sort of jogged me out of my blissful parenting cloud. I mean, none of us, and I mean NONE of us have allergies (did I mention we are extremely lucky/fortunate/blessed?). None of us have asthma, we don’t have any on-going conditions and so, since I haven’t dealt with extreme illness lately, I sort of forgot what it feels like to deal with hours of headaches, days of throwing up, fevers, and anything else imaginable. I forgot what it means to be woken up in the middle of the night to administer medicine, to press cool towels and ice packs against little heads, speak in whispers, and administer lots of hugs. I forget what it’s like dealing with a kid who feels awful and whines a lot and needs me every minute, of every hour, of every day.  

It was a tough week and we are recovering, but the whole ordeal got me thinking that basically, “this is what being a mother is all about.” These are the moments for real patience, for really being there for my kids. These are the moments to throw the schedule and deadlines and plans to the wind (Full disclosure: I thrive on routine and I’m slightly Type A, so when my schedule is out of whack, I get anxious.). I let the chores go and didn’t worry about how long the TV stayed on or how long I sat on the couch with my kid because she really needed me… like, really needed me. She’ll remember this moment probably as well as she’ll remember the fun stuff that happens a lot more often: going to the park, swimming in the summer, making cookies, reading books, having campouts, and all the other really awesome experiences we’ll share over the course of her life.

Really being there for my daughter and also attempting to keep my two-year-old out of the way (soooo did not want him catching this nasty thing) while trying to keep up with work and the house was super-duper hard for me. From feeling so sorry for her as she cried about her headache to feeling angry and guilty for needing to get out of the house on Friday night for dinner with my friends to feeling completely exhausted like I’d just brought home a new bundle of joy; everything about the situation was hard. Maybe I’m out of practice; that could be part of the equation. I know darn well I’m still learning that ongoing life lesson called patience, and oh yeah, dealing with sick kids is just HARD. Whatever it is, looking back, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a shining light and comforting figure for my sweet girl. It’s what my mother did for me when I was sick, and it’s what I hope my daughter does if she chooses to become a mother in the future. It’s what WE DO as parents. We love, we nurture, we take care—no matter how hard or how long the road.