When sickness comes knocking during school holidays Mum gets pushed to her limit. Read on as Nicky shares her honest experiences of the school holidays...
I feel like the worst version of myself these holidays. Shouty, growly, irritable mummy has made an appearance and I’m looking forward to packing her bag and sending her away.
The break started with party poppers, roast pork, friends, fun and laughter. We were onto a good thing, the kids were finding their rhythm and we had some enjoyable activities planned. Then there was a sniffle. It turned into a sore throat. Dad hit the deck, or the bed, first. Influenza – the full-blown kind with all its accessories: aches, vomit, sinus blockages, restless nights, etc. Hmmm.
Funnily enough we had just had our flu shots (it’s always a family outing – the kids call them “holes”, much to the doctor’s amusement). Time would tell if the rest of the family was going to succumb. Actually, it didn’t take much time at all. The two little ones (as I call my 5-year-old and 3-year-old), were both feverish by the time the evening rolled around. It was going to be a long night and I was on sole-duty given that Dad was out of action.
Night one: alternate administrations of pamol and ibuprofen, vicks vapor rub, bowls emptied, tissues overflowing the rubbish bin… Morning arrived and that’s when Florence Nightingale waved goodbye and Grumpy Mummy stomped in. I’m a terrible nurse, I just don’t have the stamina to be needed 24-7. If I could have tapped out that morning, I would have.
We limped through the next few days (and nights) with a few visits to the doctor and the after-hours clinic. Someone needed antibiotics, another needed an injection to stop the vomiting, then it was steroids, inhalers, the works. I’m so grateful we live in New Zealand, God bless our medical system, but what I really was after was a prescription for a live-in nurse.
My head cold was nothing to what the others were going through, but a quiet hotel room, all by myself, with clean sheets and no one sneezing on me, was becoming a daily fantasy. I hit a new parenting low when the kids developed a chesty cough on top of all the other symptoms. It was let’s-keep-mummy-up-tag that night. One would go and then the other, back and forth, back and forth. I lost count of how many times I had been in and out of bed when our 3-year-old called out again. Her teddy was too big! What?! I grudgingly replaced the offending smurf (with a baby owl) and stomped back to bed. Then there was another shout. Expletives are not normally my thing, but they were clearly at the front of my mind that night. The owl was missing a wing. What…the…owl?!
Thankfully Daddy was back on board by this stage and prevented any further injury to the owl, but I was done. A few days of looking after everyone had stripped away patience, kindness and sympathy. And truthfully, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, it was intense for a few days, but there are so many people out there who are dealing with significant health issues, long-term situations that they cannot see an end to. As I write, my family is on the mend. Grumpy, yes. Congested, yes. But they will get better.
So how do I understand my reaction in light of my faith? After all, doesn’t one’s true self come to light in the face of adversity? And what about the evidence of Christ in my life, that should be displayed by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Oh, ouch. I know my prayers became a whole lot more simple than usual, “Give me patience,” “Heal him, please,” “Help me not to shout,” “Help her breathe,” and again, “Give me patience.” I’m grateful God hears me, even when I’m mad, frustrated and at the end of my tether. And I’m grateful He hears me, even when I’m not being a very good reflection of Him.
After all, don’t we love our kids in spite of their faults, failures and willful wrong-doing? Hang, we even love them when they get us up, repeatedly, throughout the night. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” In other words, God loves us more than we will ever know. It’s a love that is even greater than what a parent has for their child, and because of His great love for us, He wants to bless us. Part of His blessing involves listening. He tunes in when we’re upset and He forgives us when we get things wrong.
So here are my words of courage to myself this week (and to anyone else who may need them): “Pray short prayers, be grateful, this will end. Have a cuppa, see a friend, lock yourself in the bathroom for five minutes and take some deep breaths. You are heard, you are forgiven, you get a second chance.”
The bags are packed, I’ll send Grumpy on her way now.