The real problem with not being very well off is that you don’t have the money to separate yourself from the other sick people in your house – or as some like to call them – the family.
It’s all about sharing – sharing without your consent. Sharing germs, sharing beds, sharing air, sharing bathrooms. You’re all sick, exhausted and horrendously unattractive and holed up in a house of shit like the last few humans hiding away during a zombie apocalypse.
The “ill” will more than likely originate from the child in the family – if you have a toddler who has a social life, basically, you’re screwed. He’s a little germ dealer you see. He will spend his time licking floor jigsaw puzzles, door handles and sticking his fingers in other children’s noses. While he’s out he will collect as many different strains of a virus as he can and settle down on your sofa before unleashing them into your household.
I never feel like a ‘mum’ – that title still doesn’t sit well on my shoulders. Until my child is ill. Suddenly a small person is vomiting all over my large textured rug, and over my duvet, and over the cat and I start screaming “it’s ok sweetie, it’s ok sweetie” running from wall to wall frantically looking for help and realising that no one is coming to help me. I’m it. I’m the mum. It’s my job, and mine alone – to mop up this spew and burn the rug and hose him down and throw out the cat.
You find yourself dealing with all manners of horror that you never thought you would be able to do before becoming a parent, and that are, by the way, never any less disgusting.
The next ten hours are a rollercoaster of emotions. You’ll go from assuming it’s just one of those things that children get, to Googling symptoms and terrifying yourself, to calling 111 in tears explaining that you really don’t want to bother anyone.
You’ll sit by their side with a thermometer testing their temperature every twenty minutes absolutely terrified that it’s something more sinister than a cold and wondering if you have any of this ‘mother’s instinct’ everyone bangs on about but you’re sure you don’t possess.
You get a Doctor’s appointment, which is a miracle in itself, because you have a tiny sick person as collateral. The doctor is lovely and you sob again because you’re exhausted from worrying. You feel like being a mother never gets easier – and here you are again dealing with a situation you have no qualifications to deal with.
It’s just a viral infection and it’ll pass in a couple of days.
A couple of days pass and you start to wonder if the little one is starting to milk this as it looks like a pretty nice life lying on the sofa all day, sipping strawberry milk, watching Peppa Pig on repeat.
And then you cough. The bastard has got you.
You feel wretched. You have complete sympathy with the toddler. You just want to crawl into bed and slowly die – but you can’t, because you’re the bloody mum. Who is there to make your chocolate milk and let you watch The Good Wife on repeat? No one.
Wait! I know who will look after me. My parents! They always looked after me when I was sick. So I call them – and prepare myself for the waves of sympathy that are about to wash over me. But – they have none.
They just ask if the children are ok and order me to bleach my surfaces. Not a euphemism.
So I look to my husband for sympathy and I may get a cup of tea and, if the stars align, a nap. Maybe we’ll get through this after all.
And then the husband comes down with the same thing. And once daddy pig gets it – you’re all doomed.
Don’t forget – the particular strain the man of the house gets is much more potent and deadly than yours or the children. You might have all been a little bit sick – but he has version 3.0 which is your minor illness times 987%.
The poor little lamb.
If you can survive this sick time together without clobbering your other half to death with a bottle of junior calpol then you can survive pretty much anything.
Weirdly the baby – the second born – will remain entirely unaffected during the entire sick period. He will bomb about with a grin on his face proving further that he’s not entirely human and has been sent to destroy you all.
Cough, sneeze, splutter.