Sunday, November 24, 2013

Feverishness and Guilt

Fiona, feeling fine
So, last night, Fiona woke me up at about one thirty in the morning, and even as I was waking myself up and trying to focus on the words she was saying, I could tell she was talking very fast in the hot, breathy voice that always accompanies a fever.  Well, accompanies a fever for her.  Each of my kids has a "tell" that lets me know they are really sick, not just tired or having a round of allergies.  Delia's eyes get very cloudy, and the the area under her eyes is a transparent purple.  Usually that means she is going to fall deeply asleep or throw up, or both,  some time in the next two hours.  My oldest son had a pinched look, as though he weren't getting enough air, which was fitting, because he also battled asthma symptoms and carried an inhaler at least until junior high.  My younger son got pale, and extremely cranky.  The crankiness also comes over Fiona, and Delia gets kind of weepy.  All of this has always made me cranky and kind of weepy too, not only because I suffer when my children suffer, but because so often, sick children present a gigantic logistical challenge.  Oy!

That's bad, right?  It's bad to not only feel sorry for the sick kid but to feel sorry for yourslf too, because you have to go to work tomorrow, even though it looks like your kid is going to have to stay home.  Because no one can cover for you, or you've had to miss too many days already, or because you just flat-out won't get paid, and then the whole family will suffer next week if you miss this shift.  And by "you," I mean me.  I confess that I own this particular badness, because as I look back on my life as a mom, I realize that I have spent days and nights hoping a fever will break, not only because I want my kid to be better, but because I really don't want to have to call out, or to call in a favor, or to call and ask someone who doesn't owe me a favor to help me out, or to switch shifts, or to work 10 days in a row because I had to switch shifts, because someone had to do me a favor.  I also own the badness of sending a kid without a fever, who might be better off at home for the day, to school, and then spending the day at work feeling guilty and keeping my fingers crossed and sending up thank you prayers every hour I didn't get a call from the school. 

I hate being that mom.  The mom whose kid feels under the weather and walk like zombies through the school day.  The mom who might be sending a germ bomb to school, just to be sure that we can eat next week.  And I am not always that mom.  When I had the good fortune to have a job with sick days, I never took them for myself.  I went to work with a fever, if necessary (hello germ bomb!) to make sure that I could take off when the kids were sick.  I worked all weekend most weeks, when I knew someone could cover for me at home, so that I could be more flexible during the week, especially during cold and flu season, which, if you have kids, you know runs year-round. 

And tomorrow, I will stay home if Fiona is sick.  I already dread the call-out, the work-around, the anxiety of trying to figure out how I will cover any lost hours.  But what I dread even more is the possibility of spending eight hours feeling like I did the wrong thing for Fiona, by making her go to school sick. 

She's sleeping soundly now, cool as a cucumber and breathing lightly.  It looks like we've turned the corner, but I won't really know until she gets up.  And yes, my fingers are crossed, and I'm sending up a prayer.  For her, of course, and for me too.   We could both use a break...

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