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The Double Sickness of Mommy Guilt and The Flu

Warning: This Column Was Written Under Heavy Doses Of DayQuil

At our house, we are suffering through what will henceforth be (un)affectionately known as The Plague of 2012. And when I say “we,” mostly I mean the two adults in the family.  

Chills. Shakes. High fevers. Aches. Pains. Nausea. Swimmy head. Coughs.

Misery.

I can't unwrap a cough drop without my knees knocking, teeth chattering and hands shaking.

My 7-year-old even looked at me in dismay and said, “I’ve never seen you like this before, Mom.”

My husband -- conked out on the bed thanks to some Nyquil -- snored in agreement.

The only thing worse than having the flu is the flu coupled with Mommy Guilt -- which is, for those who do not know, that gnawing feeling that your slacking on your mothering.

For the past two days, my poor children have subsisted on a nutritious diet of animal crackers, water and the occasional e-z-peel tangerine.

I’ve shoved so much extra Vitamin C in my children’s direction that they are probably going to sprout orange boughs out of their ears in the spring.

While I'm too sick to mother, my kids read books to each other. They watch Wild Kratts on the TV and birds at the feeder, make up games, draw pictures, write to their pen pals, keep their baby brother out of trouble,make  crafts and do their best to pitch in.

Today, Josie tied her little apron on and made lunch for everyone. I hear their voices through my cracked bedroom door.

Sadie, my 8-year-old, just informed me that she wiped the table, wiped off her brother, put the dishes away, sprayed Lysol on all the doorknobs and cleaned up the kitchen. Now she’s on her way to wash her hands yet again.

They are being so helpful and empathetic that it makes me feel even worse that I haven’t been able to “be there” for them for the past few days.

Thank goodness for Grandma, who braved the noxious germ fumes, closed us in our room, fed the kids and put them to bed for us before vacating the premises.

The other Grammie also visited with reinforcement tissues, juice and chicken noodle soup. She left them at the kitchen door, rang the doorbell and fled before she could be contaminated. I saw her through the window as she jumped back in her car and made a hasty retreat.

Even my sick husband – who grudgingly admits that I’m sicker than he is – has pitched in despite his illness. He checks in on the kids for me from time to time and changes a diaper or two. He brings chicken tortilla soup home for supper, which the children fall on and devour like they are a pack of wolves (wolves that have been eating nothing but animal crackers.)

Meanwhile, I feel like I can't move. And, when I do move, it's in slow motion.

All I want to do is play with my children, read to them, be mom to them.

Tomorrow I’m planning to tear open the shutters and throw up the sashes (which is a heck of a lot better than what I’ve been throwing up, pardon the pun) and exorcise this house of all the germs so we can get on with a happy holiday season.

The flu's got nothing on Mommy Guilt.

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