As I am typing this, we are five weeks into the new year and this is the first week that I have had both my children in school for a full week. Yes, there was a federal holiday and a professional development day to contend with, but still. Sickness this year has been brutal. We’ve had a particularly hard flu season, which combined with COVID-19 (still a thing!) and RSV means we’re facing yet another tripledemic. And on top of all that, the stomach bug has been making the rounds (I should know—my family fell one-by-one like a stack of dominos over the winter break, all while sleeping together in one room at a hotel, no less).
Having sick kids at home is rough. And not just because of how sad and sometimes scary it can be when your child isn’t feeling well (my 4-year-old had never thrown up before this past break and it was heartbreaking seeing how terrified he was). Of course, it hurts when your kid is hurting and they need your attention and their rest. And yet…wow, sick days sure do suck for moms.
Because although I have help when my kids are home from school—from my spouse and from screen time—it ultimately doesn’t matter how many tricks we employ or how “hands-on” our partner is. The truth is that no one can cover a mother’s shift.
And I’m not just talking about the physical stuff. Yes, there’s the changing of the bedsheets, the taking of temperature, the going out to buy Pedialyte and Children’s Tylenol, making their favorite soup, checking that they’re getting enough fluids, putting on their TV show and making sure they haven’t fallen into a dark place via YouTube videos. Mommy can you watch with me? Mommy can you lie with me? Mommy can you read to me? This is draining in and of itself.