I recently discovered that my toddler, Gabriel, is a complete terror when he is unwell. It’s not that he hasn’t been sick before. When his nose started running, I thought I knew what to expect based on past behaviour. I knew he would be clingy and sooky and mentally prepared myself for long days cuddling him on the couch. What I had not anticipated, in addition to the clinginess, was that he would amp up his tantrumming to the point where there were more things that did set him off than things that didn’t. It was, to say the least, an exasperating, exhausting and hellish week. The two girls were also unwell and we had a few days of rest at home so, on top of it all, cabin fever set in.
Let’s face it. When the kids are miserable, the parents are miserable. At the end of each day (and increasingly as the week wore on), I was all out of patience, completely spent by the time Eugene would get home from work. He heard me say on more than one occasion when Gabriel was screaming and writhing around on the ground having another tantrum, “I’ve got nothing left.” Being the wonderful support he has always been, he knew exactly what to do and would scoop Gabriel up and sit on the couch cuddling him. Bittersweet moments for me because…mum guilt.
Now that I’ve come out on the other side of this challenging week, I can say that nothing, nothing, beats having the kids in good health. There were so many moments of helplessness, hopelessness and, let’s be honest, FML, and I hope I don’t have to go through anything like it again for a very long time! You all know the feeling – all you want is for your kids to smile and laugh again and it feels like forever when they are screaming, yelling and crying almost every waking moment.
So what got me through? In hindsight, although it didn’t feel like it when I was living it, the rational me knew that this was a temporary situation and that the kids would be well again. Deep down, I was grateful that the kids would eventually recover; there are so many kids in the world who are sick who will never recover. Caffeine and chocolate. The peace and quiet of the evenings after the kids were put to bed (except for the coughing and, in Gabriel’s case, the odd vomit!) so I could recharge for another “round” the next day. Visiting family to get out of the house. The internet. The Lego Batman Movie. And last but not least, unconditional love and understanding from Eugene.