What is it about a child’s illness that turns mothers into raging lunatics?
“Is he breathing?” and “Do you think he’s got Meningitis?” are both phrases I’ve said, out loud, in the last hour. My daughter was sick on Saturday night and, like clockwork, her brother had a fever by dinner (it’s Tuesday, for those keeping tabs).
This isn’t my first rodeo with sickness. I have three kids ranging from twins who are a little over three and an about-to-be six-year-old. I’ve been changing diapers, wiping noses, cleaning up vomit, and checking temperatures for almost six years. I’ve seen some nasty stomach bugs that would send even the toughest person running for Lysol. I’ve wiped off more crusted snot than I can recall. Fevers are an old friend. Well, not friends. Let’s call fevers and I “frenemies.”
I understand the scientific purpose of fevers. I know that if it’s under 101°F you should just leave it alone. Fevers are nature’s way of fighting whatever is in the body in the most Heavy Metal way possible—It literally BURNS THE GERMS TO DEATH (mwahaha)! I treat them with mild Ibuprofen if it goes between 101-105°F and I make sure the kids don’t have a stiff neck. I make sure to check and see if the medicine makes the fever drop a few degrees. I do everything that MayoClinic tells me to do.
But does any of that scientific knowledge and triple-checking allow me any relief? Hell-to-the-No. Of course it doesn’t, are you insane? Obviously, my child in dying and if I don’t make sure they’re still breathing every hour they have most certainly died.
I’m the person who comedians joke about when they say, “Ever look up your symptoms on WebMD? Everyone has cancer and is dying!” This is not limited to my own symptoms and despite having dealt with fevers with three different kids, I’m the one on the same damn webpage every single time going, “Does she looks different? Lethargic? Loopy? Is her neck stiff? MAYBE SHE HAS MEASLES EVEN THOUGH WE VACCINATED.”
Why do we do this to ourselves? What is it about when our children get sick that makes mothers go absolutely bananas? Is it the inability to be in control? Or is it because when they are so little they have no idea how to truly communicate what hurts (“I hot, I sad, My Tummy” can literally mean a thousand different things from heartburn, to dizziness, to vomit, to gas)?
I know that if I look at it through Logical-Misty’s eyes I’ll see that they’re fine, they’ll be fine, we’ll all be fine. I know that tomorrow my son will feel better and by this weekend he won’t even remember he wasn’t feeling 100%. But I will. I’ll probably have night terrors tonight that he’s dying and the wood floor to his room has become quicksand—and I can’t reach him in time (yes, I’ve had that dream before, and it suuuuucks). I’ll remember this fever like I remember every single fever, stomach bug, and cold that has ravished their tiny, little bodies. I’ll remember it as I spray Lysol in a wide angled sweep through my house like a tear gas bomb on those God Damn germ terrorists.
Oh, it’s been 30 minutes… I should go check his temperature and make sure he’s still breathing.