By Tuesday afternoon he was back at work, albeit moving slowly, and Eve's body was beginning the slow simmer. Wednesday morning she was grey and hot, shiny-eyed and couldn't talk without the rolling crud in her lungs threatening to come out. By noon, Lola joined her on the couch and I swear I could see the steam shimmering off of their skin as they first huddled under blankets and, ten minutes later, shook them off. Fully stocked with Gatorade, more homeopathic meds, thermometer covers and Otter Pops, I spent the day hydrating, comforting, and reassuring my poor little patients. The grocery lists and dog leash lay on the kitchen counter, left for another day.
Thursday and Friday, normally my days off by myself, will morph from a time to finish tasks for the house and take some time to write and exercise for myself to a time of caretaking. There is something poignant and tender about taking care of my family, especially when they are so clearly physically uncomfortable and I can do so much to help in simple ways. There is something so validating for me as a mother as I tiptoe around them, clearing dishes, taking temperatures, rubbing backs, fluffing pillows. It hits me in a way that feels good.
As we settled in to bed last night Bubba's voice shot out in the dark, "You are not allowed to get sick. You know that, right? You're the only one that isn't allowed." I know he meant it as a joke. Partially. But I know it. And it's pretty rare that I do get sick and actually need the tables to turn so that he is taking care of me. But a couple of times on Wednesday I found myself fantasizing about a sore throat building. Some slight pressure behind my right eardrum.
Nah. I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to help my girls through another rotten day of the flu. Knowing that I may not get these two days to myself this week and not minding. Because there was a time when I would have just written them off and pushed myself through to next week, hoping to get my time then. But now that I'm wiser and more careful about taking care of me, too, I'll wait until they feel better and Saturday or Sunday I will take my time. If they are all stir crazy I'll send them out to the movies and ice cream so I can have the place to myself for a few hours. If they want to stay home, I'll head to the bookstore, have coffee with a friend, take the dog for a walk or go get a pedicure. I've finally figured out that I don't have to get sick to earn being taken care of. I don't need an excuse. All I have to do is make the time to take care of myself. Or else I will get sick.
So this weekend, Bubba's doing all the cooking. The girls will help fold laundry. I will make sure yoga and writing and me are all priorities for me. Yup, I deserve that.