Sicker Than Me

I needed a day to myself.  A day when I would simply set aside the list, even if I felt compelled to make a list in the morning just to take these items out of my mind and put them on paper instead.  List: Made.  And then: set aside.

Please forgive me, mothers of small children.  I know you don’t get a day to yourself unless someone gives it to you.  I know you don’t even get a few hours alone unless you work it into your budget, exchange a favor with another mom in captivity, or – in all humility – ask for help.  I know it well.  So when I say that I intended to take a day alone, you might want to chuck board books into my shins and gouge my eyes with your rubber-tipped baby spoons.

I understand.  And I hope you’ll get an afternoon alone.  Soon.  I know they are precious and rare, few and far between.

Weekends are my most intense stretch as a single mom.  Three days of ‘being on.’  Like a wedding photographer who works through the weekends, or like a pastoral staff who serves on Saturday and Sunday, I look forward to Monday.  Everything settles down just a bit.

Or just a lot.

I drop them off at school, and then I inhale the scent of coffee and exhale a breath of peace and quiet.  That’s what I was looking forward to on this Monday morning.

But then my son got a cold.  I gave it to him.  I’ve had this froggy voice since the middle of teaching at The Greenhouse on Thursday, which spilled into speaking at The Well on Friday night, which left me with little voice of parental authority over the weekend.

And bless his heart, his first words to me yesterday were, “Mommy, I’m sicker than you.”

Of course, it is a competition, you know.  And there’s little sympathy for the mom.  If she can get out of bed, with or without a choice, then clearly he’s sicker than she is.  (I won’t mention any names, but he reminds me of a certain father of his, who was always, invariably, sicker than me.)

I kept his gunky little self home today, because Show and Tell shouldn’t include this situation.

“What an opportunity to serve my family,” I said to myself.  I may or may not have gritted my teeth.

And now my day has an underscore of Tom and Jerry, popsicles and clear fluids, interruptions and suspicious requests for desserts.  And I’m realizing too late in the day that he really could have made it through his normal routine.

Moms of preschoolers, my heart goes out to you: this is what you do every day.

I remember it well.  And it’s a tough gig.

Take an hour off today. I certainly intended to.

Tricia Lott Williford

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