When I was in high school, our principal used to come on the PA every morning to make the following announcement: “Make sure you’re on time to class. Don’t be a fool with no mama who gets caught in the Tardy Sweep.“
(Incidentally, our high school mascot was a unicorn. Because we are special and magical and we all shit rainbows. Fools with no mamas or not, we have Unicorn Pride.)
But I digress.
(Please forgive me – I’m a little more tired and neurotic than usual.)
Anyway, if one more person asks me “Why are your kids getting sick all the time?” I swear to Yoda that I will aim Little Homie at them and hope he’s in the mood for a good old fashioned round of projectile vomiting.
(Usually, I don’t like to see my kids hurl chunks everywhere. It’s messy and sometimes kind of scary, but again, if I hear this asinine question ah-gain, I will make an exception. You’ve been warned.)
Ok, let me qualify this: If the question comes from a place of love and genuine concern, then I might let it slide. In fact, if I’ve had more than an hour of sleep, I might even smile and shrug and say something about how “oh, you know how kids are.”
Because kids get sick. Period. The End.
BUT it seems more often than not, this question is really just a treacly disguise for the real question:
WHAT ARE YOU – YOU, MAMA! YEAH, YOU! — DOING WRONG?
(Because let’s face it, no one ever asks B. why his kids are getting sick all the time.)
When Little Homie throws falafel on the ground, the waitress glares at me. Not B.
When M. has a five alarm meltdown at the petting zoo, and B. tries to sooth her, it doesn’t matter whether he succeeds or fails. All that matters is he’s trying. And everyone smiles. But, if I can’t calm her down, I look incompetent. Big time Mama Fail.
If B. takes Little Homie out for a walk and forgets to put socks on him, three people — THREE FUCKING PEOPLE, I KID YOU NOT — will ask him “Why didn’t his mother put socks on him?” Because clearly, it’s my fault. Always and forever. My. Fault.
And when the kids get sick, everyone peppers me with questions about their health habits, what they eat, and how many times they poop. No one thinks to ask B.
Even though B. and I are co-parenting–we both work, we both raise our kids, and we both try not kill each other or ourselves in the process–when he’s helping out it’s called “helping out” or “giving me a break.” And the whole fucking world throws a ticker tape parade in his honor.
(I bet some of you know what I’m talking about.)
The grunt work. The scut work. The nails-on-a-chalkboard-grind. The dirty dishes. The lost socks. My fault. All of it.
And one day, if my kids get caught in a Tardy Sweep, they’ll be fools with no mama. And they probably won’t be wearing socks, either. Call Child Protective Services and arrest me! Throw me in Bad Mother Jail without a trial because I’m guilty until proven otherwise.
It’s all my fault.
(Anyway, at this point, I was going to turn this post into a mordant commentary about sexism and family dynamics vis-a-vis sick children, but I spent all my energy looking up “vis-a-vis” to make sure I was using it in the correct context. And I’m still not sure. Google Fail. And that sound you hear are my graduate school dreams getting flushed down the toilet.)
Look. I’m tired. I’m scared. I’ve got a sick kid who may or may not have an underlying health problem. After all, two cases of Pneumonia in three months is a bit… weird.
And, on top of all of that, I feel guilty.