I don’t believe in illness. OK, perhaps I should rephrase that — I don’t believe in a minor illness’ ability to keep me down. Unless I’m dragging a limb, hospitalized or totally unable to keep food down at all, I refuse to disrupt my ultra-busy daily routine to do silly things like “rest” or “recuperate.”
I laugh at colds, headaches, exhaustion and minor “bugs.” Well, alright, maybe I don’t laugh at them, but I do heavily medicate them and struggle to go on with life. Yes, it’s rough, but I know that catching up after being “out of the game” for a day or two is even rougher.
For the most part, my husband shares this sentiment (although he does whine and complain more when struck by minor ailments). That’s why I was surprised when he called me Thursday afternoon to let me know he felt terrible and was leaving work early. He picked up our daughter from day care and headed home around 3 p.m. When I arrived home that evening, I found Noell shivering under a pile of blankets on the couch, holding a thermometer that read 103.1 degrees. Yikes!
I sent him straight to bed and took over our family’s nighttime routine. Our toddler, Reese, already was in a bad mood because she didn’t understand why Daddy wouldn’t play with her — as he usually does — as they waited for me to get home. She was irritable and hungry. Luckily, I’d made pot roast with vegetables and steamed rice earlier in the week, and there was plenty left. Into the microwave it went, and Reese and I were enjoying dinner in less than 5 minutes. Well, I enjoyed it. She threw a lot of it and insisted on eating two pears instead. OK by me.
I knew locating all the tiny grains of rice sticking to the floor would be a time-consuming task — as would plucking said grains from our dog’s long, shaggy coat — but I had no time to dwell on that. Onto the bath.
I put Reese in the tub and realized I hadn’t yet folded and put away the clean linens that were in the dryer. I ducked out of the bathroom for all of 17 seconds to find a washcloth, but that was enough time for her to grab a large cup (that I’d carelessly left within arm’s reach), fill it with water and soak the bathroom floor. But I had no time to dwell on that. I figured I’d mop it up later — after I de-riced the kitchen floor and dog.
I took Reese to her room to get her dressed and administer the children’s Claritin she takes daily for seasonal allergies. I thought the cap was on the bottle of medicine. I really did. But as I turned it on its side to reread the dosing instructions, I watched the clear, sticky syrup seep from the container and pool on top of Reese’s dresser. That mess, however, I did clean right away, since holding off until later would mean having to return to Reese’s room after I’d put her in bed. Once she allows me to sneak out, it’s not a good idea to go back in there for fear she’ll change her mind and demand I sleep on the floor next to her bed.
Next, I gave her a cup of milk, read her two stories — although she begged for five — and tucked her in tight. I moved on to packing lunches, doing the dinner dishes, mopping the rice-coated floor, wringing out the water-logged bathroom rugs, folding the clean linens and going through the mail we received that day.
Those are all things my husband normally would’ve tackled while I was busy bathing, dressing and reading to Reese. Once we both finish our respective evening chores, we usually do one round of “Ring Around the Rosie” with our little girl and send her off to dreamland with a shower of hugs and kisses.
I sure did miss our normal routine. It’s more fun when it’s the three of us, and I don’t feel quite as overwhelmed as I did Thursday night.
I realize, though, that there are plenty of single parents out there who get little to no help. They’re solely responsible for keeping their families up and running at all times. I honestly don’t know how they do it, but I’m amazed that they do. I can’t imagine taking care of a little one and pets, cleaning the house, paying the bills, grocery shopping, getting to work on time and keeping up with family and church obligations all on my own. I’d have to give up sleep.
To all the single moms and dads who keep up with these everyday demands, my hat is off to you. Know that you are appreciated and admired for your courage and capability. Keep on running the show, parenting your children the best way you know how with the resources you have. You’re hitting it out of the park.