May the Force Be With You

This is for all of you who are struggling with the awesomeness of the winter bugs.

By awesome, I mean, FLUSTERCATING.

I realize that I made up that word. There is no single word that fully describes the exhaustion and irritation that comes with dealing with sick kids – or men – and trying to maintain a household to a level that will keep the authorities at bay.

We dealt with the Man Flu over Christmas, and I have to say, I was slightly annoyed that the Serial Killer didn’t get the Poor Me Man Flu, like most men. He had a fever for over a week, a nasty cough, and I could tell he felt horrible. Still, he was more concerned with the possibility that the kids or I would develop his symptoms, and he thanked me countless times for taking care of him. It’s disgusting. I’m sorry. However, it is further argument to the homicidal tendencies that I’m certain are lurking beneath the surface, so there is that.

My kids don’t like to get sick over break, nor do they like to coordinate their sicknesses. Typically, one or two will get whatever bug happens to be floating in the atmosphere. Days later another will start, and finally, a week after Patient Zero starts feeling better, Number Four will join the fun. My favorite part of visiting the doctor’s office seventeen times in a month, is all of the sucker sticks I find in the wash. So fun.

For those of you with only one petri dish – I mean child – this may seem a little dramatic. Let me just tell you about my day, and you may understand a little more about the struggle.

Yesterday, my morning began with two whiny, snotty girls whose coughs were likely to be mistaken for those of a three-decade-veteran blues singer in a smoking lounge in Vegas. The baby, who had been bringing me “burgers” (boogers in toddler-speak) for a week, also decided to start hacking, and I made an executive decision to keep the minions home and head to the doctor.

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to racing to the doctor, as I have a fear of creating people without immune systems due to antibiotic overuse. However, lung stuff scares me. Too many people fail to vaccinate, and I don’t need my kids dying of something that was cured forty years ago. Feel free to be pissy and make your anti-vaccination arguments. I believe in them, though I do think the pharmaceutical companies hold them for ransom (like most drugs). I will take the heat for not believing in the flu shot. You’ll have to find some better odds than 30% (actually, I just read it was at 10% this year) before you can sell me on that. I digress…

Anyhooo, we loaded up and headed to the doctor. I was feeling pretty good about the fact that all three littles had decided to time their sicknesses to require only one visit. Negative strep tests, negative flu tests, and we headed out with a prescription for steroids to help kick the viral infection to the curb. Oh, and a purse full of confiscated suckers.

I pulled in to the drive-thru pharmacy of a national chain, only to be told that they did not carry the medication. I asked them to check one of the other FOUR stores. Nothing. I was assured that they would have it in the morning. So, I hauled the kiddos home in exactly the same state we had left the house, and hoped for the best.

This morning, I dragged my germ infested group to the pharmacy to pick up the medication, only to be told it would be another day before they “might” get it. I decided to check another pharmacy in the grocery store, and figured I could get it transferred while I got some groceries.

It was a clusterfuck. They did, in fact, have a similar medication, but I had to leave a message with the doctor’s office to get them to send over modified versions of the prescriptions. Remember, I have three visibly sick kids with me, so I’m obviously not flying under the radar.

My younger daughter learned to “cough into her elbow” at school, and though I appreciate that effort, she feels that it creates a veritable forcefield that should allow her to get as close to another human as possible – cough – and maintain the germ barrier. That is not the case. She coughed on everyone. I apologized. Then another one coughed. Again, I apologized. The baby, still in footie jammies, was trying to open yogurts in the cart and grabbing his sisters by the hair. I was THAT mom.

Everything got straightened out with the medication, and we proceeded to wander the store for groceries.

They touched EVERYTHING.

Shopping with kids is difficult enough, but I have increased anxiety when I know that my kids are probably contaminating everything within a three mile radius.

Finally, I turned down the last aisle. I was looking for cheese for the grilled cheese sandwiches I decided to do for dinner, and I heard a loud “POP,” followed by hissing and liquid dripping. My two year old had picked up one of the GLASS bottles of kombucha, dropped it on the bottom of the cart, and it had EXPLODED.

There was sticky kombucha everywhere. It was all over the groceries, all over the baby, and all over the floor. I grabbed him with one arm and reached down to pick up the glass bottle pieces. I swear, if I had a picture of my face at that moment, it would have been perfect for an abstinence campaign.

See what can happen, kids? Look at this panicked lady carrying a sick baby and broken glass? Do you want this? And look! More sick kids!

A sweet man came to the rescue with paper towels and kind words.

“Don’t worry. I have kids, too,” he said.

More apologies from me. More coughing from the kids.

Currently, I am sitting on my couch listening to the hacking of children who are now cracked out on steroids. The baby just climbed a gate and started feeding cat food to the dogs. The girls have every single pen and colored pencil on the dining room table. Any minute, I’m going to have to go pick up my high schooler, and I have done NOTHING to disinfect my house, which was my goal today.

I tell you this seemingly meaningless tale, because you might not have had someone tell you not to worry today. Whether you have sick kids, a sick partner, or you are sick – or no sickness at all – and things are just a little overwhelming today, this is for you…



We all have those days. Sometimes those days add up. But, eventually, they do get better. That man has no idea how much those little words helped me in that moment. That good juju was exactly what I needed, because honestly, from a different perspective, everything really is good.

My kids are sick, yes. But I was able to take them to the doctor, get them the medicine they need (eventually), and put food in my cart to feed their sick bellies. Even more than that, there was a kind man who reminded me that I’m not the only one going through my crap.

If you need to hear that today, take it. If you don’t, say it to someone else. I was obviously a hot mess today – far from stable genius, so I was easy to pick out as one who needed it. Sometimes it’s not so obvious, but equally necessary.

Whenever my kids come down from the steroids this evening, I know I’m going to get the best snuggles. I will be sending all of that love and juju to those of you who may not be getting the snuggles or words that you need, and I hope you realize that we are all fighting a good fight every day. We may as well help each other out whenever possible.

May the force that keeps you going, be stronger than the force that pushes you back.

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