No blog posts lately. I’ve been sick.
A warning and apology to kick off with. This isn’t a funny post. It isn’t even a particularly interesting post. It is a self-indulgent, whiny post because I am still sick and feeling like a shadow of my usual self.
My whole household has been sick. It sounds so innocuous. Sick.
At the risk of sounding like one of those smug “no one has it harder than parents” assholes, “sick” truly does take on a meaning of its own when you have children to care for. It is even more hellish when those children are also sick. My kids have some generic winter lurgy, I had that very same winter lurgy overlaid with a two day migraine.
The idea of being sick in my life pre-children has taken on a decidely nostalgic and somewhat romantic bent. You would take the day off work or school and recline lazily in bed or on the sofa with your Sex and the City DVD box set of choice and lie about feeling sick and feeling sorry for yourself while you catch up with the gang and let your roiling, illness-ridden body take care of itself. Your only task was to get better.
The peace and tranquility of those moments were only broken by drifting off to sleep in a bleary haze of medicated relief or when your partner (or mother) would come in to attend to you offering more drugs, a glass of water, an extra blanket or some plain toast with butter. Sometimes even a bucket.
Sure, you felt awful but you had someone looking after you or, at the very least, you had the whole house to yourself and nothing to do other than attend to your own semi-ritualistic acts of convalescence. Either way, you were being cared for and your needs were being met as a matter of priority.
Being sick when you have kids is hellish. If those kids aren’t old enough to attend to their own basic needs then may God have mercy on your pathetic, miserable soul. If those kids aren’t old enough to respond with compassion or empathy and laugh hysterically as your body heaves in convulsive jerks as you retch the last remaining bile out of your body then you have my eternal sympathies.
Having the constant demands of a one year old and a three year old to attend to when you can’t even move into an upright position without regurgitating is a feeling that is simply indescribable. When you are covered in snot and vomit and miserable, clingy, crying infants tugging at your clothing, your hair, what’s left of your sanity, because nobody’s needs are being adequately met. Just to bust yet another TV commercial myth: sick kids don’t sleep. Those images of young children reclining in weary repose while you bring them another dose of Panadol, smooth over the covers and tuck them back in with their teddies for more restorative slumber? It’s bullshit.
And then there was my two day long, slow burning migraine. The best thing for a migraine is to medicate yourself up to the eyeballs and curl up into a solitary, self-pitying ball in a quiet, dark room until the demon runs its course. The worst thing for a migraine is to have two small children climb on you and whine at you for twelve excruciating hours without respite because they need you for every.single.goddamn.thing other than the air they breathe because they aren’t yet capable enough to provide for themselves. And the noise. Oh God, the noise. Kids make so much of it. Bashing, smashing, crashing, clattering, crying, whining, yelling, laughing, whinging, nagging. The bleeping toys, the sound of a crate of Lego being upended, Jimmy Giggle and his ear-piercing shriek on ABC2. All of it pure auditory hell.
They want vitamins or iPads or slippers or craft activities or cuddles or tissues or gumboots or that green car with the orange stripes because the green car with blue detailing simply will not suffice. They want noses wiped or bums changed or breakfast served or Octonauts on YouTube. And all you want is for someone to dig a huge hole in the forest at the end of your street, throw you in and bury you under six cubic metres of leaf litter. The dark, dank, warm, moist silence is but a tantalising dream.
And when you have a one year old who can’t yet walk but climbs onto everything simply so he can throw himself face-first off it, who spends his day blithely crawling around from one hazard to the next with a complete disregard for his own mortality and his own safety. Who wants to tug on power cords and stick tiny little plastic objects in his mouth and dive off the lounge onto wooden floors and crawl into small, suffocating spaces and swim in the toilet bowl because your three year old left the bathroom door open again. Its exhausting enough when you are well, it is the purest kind of f**king hell when you’re not.
When all you want is for someone to look after you but you don’t have anyone because there is no village, there is only a virtual diaspora of friends and family who all have their own lives to live, their own jobs to attend and their own children to care for.
You are the village. The village is in lock down.