-Extremely contagious? Check.
-Hangs out uncomfortably in your sinuses for several days before descending to the rest of your face? Check.
-Induces fever? Check.
-Causes uncontrollable coughing, if you're too young to take anything to dry you up and prevent it from spreading to your wee delicate lungs? Check.
-Creates secondary ear infections? Check.
I prefer my children to have a stomach bug. They started showing symptoms of a cold two weeks ago. Me, two and a half. Grace spent three days coughing and crying. And when she wasn't coughing or crying, she was staring listlessly into space. Emmy trudged circles around the living room and whined. She has nailed that one frequency at which all my sympathy neurons evaporate, and the only thing holding me back from rage is an ingrained duty to love my child. I prefer the listless staring. There was also a lot of screaming from both of them. Mostly at night, when they couldn't sleep, and their faces probably felt like your ears do at the bottom of a deep swimming pool.
Grace even fell asleep on me one morning. This has not happened since she was a tiny infant.
Admire her or stick random objects in her mouth? The terrible dilemmas of motherhood.
I finally took them both to the doctor last Sunday night. We waited for TWO HOURS. Grace, of course, perked up the moment we left the house and started hopping around the office. The doctor checked them both out, asked me a few questions, seemed very unimpressed with my list of horrible symptoms, and told me it was just a cold--a bad one, but no need to worry. He seemed sympathetic, but also very, "Why are you wasting my time with this?"
And then another four days of fever and horrible coughing and lots of pathetic moaning and almost no food or sleep. So I made another appointment and got to see our regular doctor, and the contrast between him and the one we'd seen before was amazing. I didn't realize how great he was with our kids before. He even listened to me like he believed I had an IQ somewhere above the single digits.
As it turned out, they both did have ear infections. They probably didn't have them yet when I'd gone in before, but I still wanted to decorate Dr. Champion's office with little post-its declaring, "I TOLD YOU SO!" and, "LEARN BEDSIDE MANNER," and, "WE LOVE DR. WALL."
Apparently this virus is making the rounds. It sticks for a few days--with a fever--and then goes away. I think the kids just got it worse because it's been kind of a stressful month for them, and their immune systems were falling asleep at the wheel. I have never seen either child so sick and miserable, not even when they had the stomach bug.
They are doing much better now that the antibiotics have kicked in. The coughs still linger, but they don't sound alarmingly croupy anymore.
Did I mention that Jeremy has been gone this entire time? Yes. Yes, he has.
Now that we're coming out the other side, I feel like superwoman. I managed to keep up with my exercise (well, videos at home, but they're tough... for me), I managed to cook meals on most of the days they felt like eating, and I only yelled at them ten or eleven times. For really, really stupid things. But hardly any of that has been this week. I'm... learning.
Okay, so I won't win any awards for my patience and long-suffering, but these last two weeks have really changed a lot of the ways I relate to them. I'm not magically calm all the time, but I'm moved to pity more often than I am anger, I enjoy being with them instead of enjoying the kids, but being bored with their repetitive games. Well, I'm still bored by repetitive games, but my enjoyment of them has begun to overshadow that.
I think we needed this little pruning. Spending every single miserable moment with them for two weeks straight had the exact opposite effect I would have expected. I feel more loving and nurturing toward them, not resentful and angry. Funny how that works.
It's easier for me to say this now that Jeremy will be home tomorrow. I told the girls they won't see him until Thursday, just in case he doesn't get in until after they're in bed. If not, though, we're going to pick him up from the airport. I won't tell them what we're doing, though. He'll just appear in the car. I can't wait! They will either scream a lot because they want to punish him, or they will be overjoyed. Either way, it should be fun.