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I still haven’t figured out how to parent while sick

Ever hear of a “man cold”? I have something that puts that kind of incessant whining to shame — a mom cold. And I refuse to suffer in silence.

You know the saying, “moms don’t get sick days”? Yeah, I hate that phrase. I loathe that phrase. That phrase can go die in a fire along with all of the bedsheets I’m going to incinerate in order to purge my home of whatever plague has made its way indoors. However, I won’t be doing this on my sick day because, make no mistake, I will be taking one.

In fact, I have no idea how to parent while sick because I’ve never done it. I once read a blog that urged moms to accept their new martyr status because while kids can take time from school to barf their guts up all day and husbands can take time from work to cough all over the flatware, moms can never take time off ever, for reasons unspecified.

Well, if I’m to accept this as a reality, there had better be a good reason for it. If everyone else is allowed to take time to recover from the flu/norovirus/whatever WebMD says he’s dying from, than I do too, full stop. I understand that I am privileged. I have a husband who won’t be fired for coming home to pick up the slack while I’m under the weather, and not everyone has that. Sheer luck has kept me from buying in to the “moms don’t get sick days” thing, so don’t think for a minute that I can’t appreciate that.

Part of this might have something to do with the fact that when I get sick, I get really sick. I can’t remember the last time I had a cold, but I do remember the last time I had adenovirus, a fever of 104 and could smell the color purple. I never get a spot of laryngitis, but I do get nasty strep that causes my throat to basically snap shut. These are not “suck it up” illnesses.

Furthermore, as anyone who has ever been sick can tell you, crud has a way of circulating in the household. There is no way I’m going to lean over my asthmatic kid’s shoulder and breathe in her face while I’m weathering pneumonia. I’m getting my ass to bed so I don’t spread it to the other members of my family, which is exactly what I expect them to do, because I don’t want their gross germs either.

For the record, I’ve been ill as a stay-at-home mom, a working mom and a work-at-home mom, and in every single case all that I asked for (besides magic pho and that miracle bath salt) was that my family work together to give me the same recovery time that I give them when they feel like crap. If I can sacrifice precious time at work to come mop up man vomit, my husband can do the same for me. No amount of “man cold” whining can hold a candle to my “mom cold” whining.

I understand that this may not always be the case. Our working situations could change, he or I could have to go out on a business trip or a giant piano might fall from the sky and crush one of us, rendering my plan useless.

Until then, I refuse to be a martyr. As long as I have a voice to irritate my family until they treat me the way I treat them during flu season, I will use it to ensure I get sick days. To be completely frank, I hope I can make it through the rest of my kid’s childhood without ever learning how to parent while I’m sick.

More on coping with being sick

Holistic ways to avoid sickness
Child sicknesses and how to prevent them
How to disinfect your house after sickness

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