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Why do our kids’ ailments make us feel so lousy?

Listen to Your Mothers is a space to come together with the ones who understand the maternal struggle and joy best — in the hopes of turning motherhood into one, strong sisterhood. In this installment of Listen to Your Mothers, Geralyn Broder Murray wonders why every fever from her children makes her so, well, feverish.


I will never get used to my children getting sick.

I know I am fortunate. Our version of sick is fevers, colds stomach flus — we are your small-time, garden-variety childhood ailments. Sickness 101, really. Knock on wood, we are lucky and I wonder how it is that after three days tending to my four-year-old with a sky-high fever and an ultra-low threshold for house arrest and overall discomfort has left me clinging to thin shreds of my formerly happy-go-lucky nature like Dorothy in the eye of the tornado.

Simply put, Finn fights illness. He fights taking medication for the illness, which of course, results in more illness. Right now, he is hovering in the vicinity of the toilet, wanting to throw up, not wanting to throw up. He is rationalizing, complaining the whole while — not about being sick, really — not about the mechanics of it. No, it would appear he is mostly opposed to the unfairness of the whole sickness selection process.

“I wish I were someone else,” he cries angrily. “Someone who is not sick! Some other Finn who is not sick! I do not want to be this Finn!”

I think of the other Finns out in the world and apologize silently for my little one’s curse, for his Freaky Friday invocation. I understand him wanting to dodge the bullet though. I want to take it for him, actually — it would be less painful for all involved. I also want to go lie in my bed and wake up to my smiling boy in his Wall-E pajamas and Cookie Monster T-shirt, my “other Finn” who needs from me only a waffle with peanut butter and banana to make his day perfect and wonderful.

“I will never, ever feel better,” he wails, and then stares at me from the bowl, daring me to disagree with him.

“You will,” I say to him, not sure I believe it. How easily I lose my perspective, my grown-up-ness.

I see the fever climb up my unreliable digital thermometer — it is the Wheel of Fortune of thermometers. Is it 102.5? Is it 104? Is it 101.9? The readings are all over the place and the supposedly 100% accurate digital screen is flashing red, a sign that no matter what number reveals, my son is boiling over and my nerves are, too — both of us fried and done with this virus that doesn’t have the decency to fade quietly into the night after a somewhat reasonable 24 – 48 hours. It is the nightmare houseguest, overstaying it’s welcome — not that it ever was, I suppose.

Tonight, we will lie in bed and I will tell Finn — holding his hand in mine — that my heart is pumping love through my arms into his hand, into his arms and straight into his heart and all of this love, this infusion, will make him well again.

And it does. The love and some popsicles do the trick. And we all are so very grateful.

More Listen to Your Mothers

Does this growing up business have to go so fast?
No rest for the weary
Maternal instinct

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