My children were sick all night, and it helped me realize how lucky I am. Let me explain.
I’m lucky because I am privileged; I have luxuries other parents don’t. I have a washing machine to clean the five loads of sheets, towels, and blankets my kids befouled during the night. If I need to do laundry, I do it without a second thought. I don’t have to worry about a spike in my electricity or water bills. And when my toddler covered his special lovey in vomit, he was satiated with a different, clean stuffed animal. The fact that he has an army from which to choose is not always the case.
My younger son threw up about a dozen times from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. But you know what? I’m lucky. He’s been insisting on co-sleeping, so I share his bed with him. But getting up, changing him, and comforting him was not solely my responsibility. My husband is my partner in parenting. Even though I’m a stay at home mom, the job of child-rearing belongs to both of us. Not all husbands want or are able or to take care of their children; mine does it without me having to complain or even ask. I’m not parenting alone. Single parents don’t have support in the middle of the night.
Neither my parents nor my in-laws live close to me. I would love their help, especially when my kids are sick, but I’m lucky because I have a great community of people around me. Without asking, a friend even came over to watch my kids so I could run to CVS for crackers, Pedialyte, and ginger ale. My friends have cars; I have a car. I can drive to the store when I need something instead of relying on public transportation. And I don’t have to deplete my bill-paying account in order to pay for gas or supplies my children need.
I’m lucky that I don’t have to call an unsympathetic boss in order to request the day off of work. Sure, it’s no fun putting playdates and chores on hold and caring for cranky children, but my flexible schedule is just that: flexible. If I don’t get to the grocery store or Target, it doesn’t matter. If I don’t get the laundry put away or the floor mopped, it doesn’t matter. What matters is I can make sure my children are comfortable. Many parents aren’t able to stay home if any emergency arises, especially without being penalized for it. Paid sick leave is not common in our country, especially for workers whom are paid hourly.
I am incredibly fortunate to be able to provide my children with devices to help them whittle away the boring hours while being stuck in bed. With the internet, we can watch YouTube videos, either on my iPhone or my iPad. They can watch their favorite episodes of their favorite TV shows recorded on the DVR. And we have an army of DVDs if they want to spend time with Elsa in “Frozen,” the minions in “Despicable Me,” or Woody and Buzz in “Toy Story.”
Should my children need to go to the doctor, my health insurance will allow me to take them. My insurance also pays for my visits to my physiatrist and my anti-depressants, medicine I desperately need to combat my depression and anxiety. Both afflictions flare when I don’t sleep, but in spite of the terrible night, my medicine allowed me to put their sickness in perspective.
I’m not lucky that my children were sick, but I’m grateful I’m able to take care of them. I really am a lucky mom.