The month of January has brought a plethora of illness to the Navelgazing household. If it involved puking, diarrhea, conjunctivitis or copious amounts of mucous, we’ve had it. One after the other the three of us fell like flies and never had more than a few days of feeling well before being struck again.
To say that I’m ready to be done with this cycle is an understatement.
One of the things I’ve observed throughout these bouts of illness is how mothering seems to work (or at least my version of mothering). I can’t speak for fathering or any other version of parenthood so forgive me if I’m coming across as exclusionary of others.
When my little one is sick, it is me that he wants the most. I’m the provider of milk which serves as both food and medicine. He’s fine with his daddy some of the time, but Baby E must have his dose of mama or all is not right with his world. So I spend a lot of time cuddling, nursing, and soothing this small person through his misery.
That is as it should be, right?
What ultimately happens is that I will be coughed on, sneezed on, snotted on, puked on, pooped on, etc., etc., etc. I will then get the sickness du jour.
I realize that this has a purpose. In order for me to pass antibodies to the illness through my milk to Baby E, I must be exposed to said illness.
So now, I’m sick too and still primarily responsible for this small person, who might be still sick, on the mend or totally well by this point.
Either way, my body is not totally my own whether sick or well.
The daddy of this house does not have this problem. It isn’t that he doesn’t care or doesn’t help out. It’s more that he’s now the second-in-command of this parenting ship. He goes off to work most days of the week, which leaves Baby E and me alone a lot. When he’s sick, he can mostly count on me to keep the little one away so he can recuperate. When I’m sick, I still have to nurse Baby E whether I feel up to it or not.
I’m not writing this post to complain. I’m well aware that my situation is ameliorated by the fact that I am partnered and do not currently suffer from chronic illness or disability. I just felt the need to record my observation that even on my worst day I’m inextricably intertwined with my child.
And that is just the way it is.