Did you hear that? That was the sound of every parent around the world shuddering. It’s the Voldemort of common illnesses; that which shall not be named. Nature’s way of saying, “Parenting is hard. Want to add some vomit?”
Last week, it was our turn. First the complaint of a tummy ache, then the fever, and then the inevitable-well-let’s just say I will be shopping for new pillows.
And before the littlest germ-factory was back to his regular Whirling Dervish self, it got me. I hate being sick. I mean, who likes being sick? But I really hate it. I do not fit the stereotype of the mom who pushes through illness to take care of her family. That would be my husband. I crawl up in a ball and don’t move for days.
While I was cocooned in my bed, I realized how lucky I was. I have an incredible village. “I’m sick” is all that was needed for my husband to acknowledge he would be performing more than his usual share of parenting duties. We are both hands-on parents, but for those few days I wouldn’t be moving, and it was understood.
With one kid still home from school at about 60% better, I woke to hear my father call from downstairs, “Come hang out downstairs with Grandpa, let Mommy sleep.” Knowing my sickish kid was in good hands let me rest confidently.
I had friends checking in on me, seeing if I needed anything. Even during the ice storm that hit Ontario, one friend was already out braving the roads and offered to bring me food my stomach could handle; an offer I declined but was greatly touched by.
Even my oldest son joined the village. Known for my great timing, we were scheduled to have nearly every window in the house replaced on day four of my illness. With both grandparents now down for the count as well, my 10-year-old took over all our jobs, and helped my husband prepare for the renovation. He also helped care for anyone who needed anything without complaint.
As I lay there in gastronomical agony, I wondered how people do this without a village. Not just the dreaded stomach bug, everything. Parenting is effing hard with the incredible support system I have in place. I have a loving, involved partner, amazingly supportive friends I can count on, and parents who love and care for my children like their own: and I still struggle every day.
Island parents - those of you without a village - I see you. I see you being both provider and caregiver for your children. I see your struggle to care for them and yourself at the same time. I’m in awe of you and your ability to play all the roles at once.
I know it can’t be easy. I know you must have days when you fight to keep your head above water without someone there to throw you a lifesaver. I know it must feel isolating sometimes.
But I see you. I admire you. I’m proud of you. You’re nothing short of a superhero in my eyes. And not just me, your kids see it too. You are a shining example to them of strength, courage, and responsibility. They will grow to be good people because they had you as a parent.
I can’t pretend to know how you manage to do it. I know it’s not magic, but hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. And I know there is so much love there.
Parenthood is hard, with or with a support network in place. We’re all part of a bigger village, and when it comes down to it, we all have each other’s backs.
But for those of you doing it all, I salute you. I’m inspired by who you are and everything you do. And I banish Norovirus from your sacred dwelling.