102 degrees feels hot. My little boy’s skin should not emanate this type of heat. He should not be looking for the words to tell me what type of pain he has. “My eyes hurt. Really badly,” he says. My husband translates when my panicked eyes find his, “He has a headache. He just doesn’t know how to tell us.” He moans when he moves. He throws up what he eats. It’s been two days and though I know this is just a virus, my heart and body say “Act. Fix this.” But there is nothing to do except hold him and hope it passes quickly.
Viruses do not care how old you are. They do not discriminate. They come into the house uninvited, get drunk on my children’s tiny little bodies, and stay too long. They create laundry. So much laundry. Laundry that is foul with smells that linger long after the soap has been applied. They laugh at my Clorox wipes. And morning number two and three dawns the same. We have been up all night, and the sun feels cruel and brings with it no relief.
But my 6 year old daughter, who has not yet given into the bug (but I know it will come…it is only a matter of time until we all fall victim) still wants to play. She looks at her brother and her emotions change by the moment. When he is at his most pitiful, moaning in my arms, simultaneously cold and hot, nose running, and eyes red, she is worried. She offers him toys, which he unhelpfully bats away. She makes cards for him, at which he barely looks, and then she gets mad. She is jealous of the attention he is getting. She asks me when it will be her turn to be really sick and doesn’t understand why I get upset with her.
This is when parenting is really hard. When you know that both kids need you, but you can not split yourself in half. One is sick and the other is not and so the decision is made for both myself and my husband. We take turns touching his skin, feeling for heat, shaking our heads. We try different thermometers, getting different readings from each. We decide that they are all crap and useless. We decide to take the kids outside. Fresh air will be good for him. He tires quickly and I know we have made a mistake. He should be inside. We get inside and he looks at me again and I know that there is no right answer. And I fear that this day, this moment, will never end. I will always be here, with this small child looking at me for answers, and every time the virus will win.
Because it must.
I remind myself it is March. It is almost spring. The breeze outside is warm. With the warmth comes freshness and open windows. And most importantly, with the spring will come an end to the runny noses of winter.
Spring may bring other things, but it will end the winter viruses that gain their strength in the cold.
We all breathe more easily when the sky clears and the flowers bud.
My superpowers return with the nice weather. And with them comes confidence and strength in my ability to do this mom thing. Winter is a menace when you have young children.
Maybe next winter I’ll move to California. I hear life is easier there.