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Moms get sick, too

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

When flu hits the family

I did something this week that a mother is never supposed to do. More, even, than occasionally melting down, a mother is never, ever supposed to get sick. The flu knocked me down for the count.

It's a bad flu season, and this is a particularly bad time of year. Alfs was sick earlier in the week (mild flu), Woody has been a little off (sore throat, low grade fever) and Sunshine has had a bit of a cough for a week or so (with no other symptoms), so clearly I've been around the germs. As I laid awake at 3:30 in the morning when the oncoming aches and fever woke me from a sound sleep, I realized that although I had been diligent about making sure the kids had their flu shots this fall, I never managed to get one myself.Yes, I know that this year's flu shots missed the mark and they are not as effective as in past years. But still. Why was it that I either didn't think enough of myself to get one or thought too much of myself that I'd never succumb?I was extremely lucky that my husband could take the day off of work and look after the kids. I don't know what I would have done if he hadn't! Although with our difference approaches, I'm afraid to look too closely around the kitchen and family room. Don't get me wrong — he's a great dad and a better cook than me. We just do things differently.I don't do sick well. Upstairs, under piles of covers, I was still chilled, and I was lonely. I could hear everyone downstairs, sometimes laughing, sometimes bickering, and I plain missed them. Watching cooking shows and sappy movies just wasn't the same for company. When my husband did come up to bring me tea, I apologized for being ill, as if I could help it.I did think a lot about why moms often put themselves last. It's a common theme on makeover shows and talk shows — moms who put their appearance and their health last on the priority list. Sure, I understand how it happens. We get so busy taking care of the kids, the house, the partner, the rest of the world that when given a choice between a nap and an annual physical, I'll take the nap.But really, a mom taking care of herself is a smart economic investment. When we take care of ourselves and include our well-being in the priority list, it makes for a happier, healthier family. It's an example for our kids, it's fewer missed work days, and so on. While illness can't be avoided completely, being as proactive as possible about maintaining our health (including our mental health!) is a smart thing to do.Now please remind me of this next fall when I am making excuses for why I can't find time to get my flu shot.

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