I had a friend come visit me and the kids (the Beard was out) one evening not long after we’d moved back to the UK and she asked me what things I missed now that I was a parent.
So what is the answer I gave? Is it being able to lie in until midday on a Sunday, lazily arguing who will get out of bed first to get to the boulangerie before it close? Is it the easy ability to get dressed and wear the same outfit all day without being vomited on or attacked with sticky fingers (who am I kidding, I still wear the same outfit, I now just deliberately buy stuff that will look less obvious when I smear the snot trails into the fabric)? Is it the ability to just take off for an impromptu night out without a month of planning and hard bargaining with the other half (no I am going to the dentist’s half an hour early so I can enjoy some alone time in the waiting room, but you got to see an actual person you like for an entire evening the other week so we are even…)? Is it the ability to take off for delightful weekend breaks or adventurous travel plans that aren’t based around pushchair accessibility and potential enjoyment isn’t balanced against potential traumas involved?
Nope. Because all these little things, while undeniably nice, pale in comparison to how blooming great it is to be a mum to two amazing people. I mean, obviously they have their moments, you may have picked up on that if you’ve read a blog or two of mine before, but on balance my children (I can’t speak for everyone else’s, some really do seem like horrible little oiks) make my life so much richer. At least that’s what I tell myself when I tighten the budget once again and consider the possibility of living off porridge for a month to help cover some of the childcare costs.
However, there is one thing that I do miss in my now children filled life. I miss the luxury of being ill. Not properly seriously ill, nothing redeeming about that, but the kind of ill where you could snuggle up in indulgent self-pity. The best kind of ill where you actually feel okay or at least not terrible, so long as you don’t actually move all day, but feel bad as soon as you stand up so that you can justifiably enjoy being curled up on the sofa with a blanket, watching crappy films on tv with a steaming cup of fresh ginger, lemon, honey, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and rum (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, will blow through your sinuses and leave a pleasant aftertaste).
We’ve all had a bit of a cold of late, babes two, and the Beard and I have been taking it in turns to feel awful. That is, taking it in turns around the schedule of a demanding two and a half year old, which means trying to give each other little breaks during the day while the other one distracts the children for as long as possible.
The Beard was sick first, I nobly tried to give him a relaxing day with a bit of a lie-in although this was ruined by the eldest screaming the house done because I brushed her hair, and then later I gave him some downtime when I took both girls out by myself for a couple of hours. Then it way my turn. Obviously my illness was worse than his, because of it being mine, but I staggered on throughout the head-foggy mornings and sinus-clogged days doing my best to think of interesting activities for the child that entailed lowest level energy input for me (soft play out, child charging around the museum in). Yet that evening the Bearded One had the audacity to cough in my presence and ask how I was feeling in the put upon tones of someone who would like to share their woes of physical health. Well I quickly nipped that behaviour in the bud by explaining in no uncertain terms that I still wasn’t well and he’d had his turn at being ill and that he wasn’t allowed to be ill again. Jokingnotjoking.
Seriously though, grown up illness has to be staggered in our household. At least now we are in the UK, it’d be easier to call in some reinforcements if we ever succumb together. Our first Christmas with the potato in France everyone got a stomach bug. Baby first which was good as we had enough energy to make sure she was sorted during her day of orifice projections. Day two we were hit. Fortunately spudlet’s sickness had visibly passed but she was still really drowsy so we could get away with spending most of the day in bed with her between us as we nudged different toys in her direction. That time the Beard definitely had it worse, we were both really sick but as I was demonstrably more sick than he was so he had to be the one to get up and change the babe (and me at one point, now that’s love) and make sure everyone had enough to drink (which involved sometimes just putting the babe on my boob as I babbled hallucinating nonsense) and that sick buckets and sweat absorbing towels were readily cleaned and available.
Thankfully we haven’t experienced a sickness like that since then but I live in dread of hurricane hurl hitting our shores again in the future. That’s not really a sickness you could have enjoyed child or no but at least without the child we could have both just slept our way through it.
The double whammy of sifting through sick days with children is that children multiply the amount of sick days that you have. They are little germ magnets sharing their grubby toys and licking each other’s faces (paw patrol has a lot to answer for). Children literally rub their germs all over you and then pretty much laugh in the face of your idle hopes of a nice sit down so you don’t pass out while attempting the weekly shop.
So yes, here’s my advice to the future parents of the world, if you feel the cold welling up or a dose of man-flu coming on, really lean into that and make the most of it because you will never have the time to give in to that with relentless children that couldn’t give two hoots whether you feel spiffy or not.
Oh and hangovers, avoid hangovers at all cost. Hangovers are of course sickness of your own making which just means you get to feel grotty, your child wont care and you can berate yourself for being the definite cause of your own illness.