On the dangers of parenting while saving the world

It’s all fun and games until influenza hits. It happened to me on Christmas evening, right after I set the lasagna on the dining room table for my friends to eat.  It didn’t catch up with Gary until he was driving home from business in Iowa two nights later. That same night, I put our son Charlie to bed without incident, only to be awoken just after 10pm by a croak and a gasp from the nursery. Croup had arrived to join the party. We somehow made it through the night in a blur of steamy showers, cold winter air and feverish bodies rolling around in various beds (our dog’s bed is really quite comfortable) until 5am rolled around and I finally bundled Charlie off to the doctor. After that, several more days followed in a similar fashion with a liberal dose of coughing, moaning, fevers, chills and dog beds for the whole family. Eventually, it got better, except that actually it didn’t. I just ran out of sick time and had to come back to the office.

I would love to say that we’ve all been relatively healthy up until now, but unfortunately it appears that having children is hazardous to your health. Since Charlie was born a little over a year ago, I have suffered from mastitis, pneumonia, food poisoning, influenza and at least a dozen different strains of the common cold. His maladies have included two rounds of croup, three ear infections and the same dozen colds that he passed on to me. In fact, the only thing that made this round of sickness unique was the fact that cursed pestilence finally attacked Gary as well.

I would also love to say that I put my time at home to good use, writing thank you cards and knitting sweaters, but that would be a lie as well. In reality, I lay around feeling like dying, chased the baby back and forth from the kitchen to the living room, yelled at the dog to stop following me everywhere and then flopped on the couch and stared at the atrocity formerly known as my living room. Eventually I took down the Christmas tree.

I tell you all this so you’ll know that it is okay if you don’t save the world today. It is okay if you never got around to building a raingarden in your front yard and it is okay if you still haven’t installed the rain sensor you bought for your irrigation system this summer. It’s okay if you spent all year chopping away at the buckthorn in your backyard and still see an impenetrable thicket when you look out the kitchen window. It’s okay if you used to volunteer regularly and now hardly have time to wash your laundry. I understand.

I can’t predict what type of illness will plague our household next, but I know that when it happens next I’ll be no better prepared. The dishes will pile high in the sink and we’ll run out of Kleenex and cough syrup. I’ll lie around, chase the baby and yell at the dog again. But eventually, I’ll get better. Then I’ll plant a garden in the yard, take Charlie and the dog on a hike, and schedule play-dates in the park. I’ll finally hang the bat house on a tree, buy a rain barrel and volunteer at a community event.

You and I might not have time to save the world today, but eventually, we will.