Being a Germaphobe. And a Parent.

Have you heard the latest illness that could terrify a germaphobe parent like myself?

Enterovirus — EV-D68

It’s that rare respiratory virus you might have read about in your Facebook feed. The one that starts like your garden variety cold, then quickly ramps up to respiratory distress and could land your child in medical care. It’s particularly threatening to children who struggle with asthma.  And it’s popping up in the Midwest, including the state in which my children reside.

I hate seeing stuff like this.

Not because I empathize with the kids who are ill, but because it sets off all those bells and whistles in my head that make me want to douse our home and our children with sanitizer.

My kids do not have asthma, and they’re relatively healthy.  I should have no reason to worry.

And yet, I do. I find myself flocking to those stories like a Real Housewife to an open bar.

Parenthood is already ripe for worry enough. Is my child happy? Is my child developing normally? Will my child do okay socially? Will my child be free from bullies? Will the world be a better or worse place from them a decade from now?

Will my child need therapy later from all of the stuff I bring to the table as a parent?

Slap on health scares like this, and it’s almost enough to send me over the edge.

I get it. Kids are petri dishes. This is not the first time we’ve faced weird bugs, and it certainly won’t be the last. So, I need to get over it.

I don’t know when I got all weird about illness. I think it was dormant when I was single, but now that I have children and love them to pieces, I just don’t want to see them suffer.

So, when I read news stories like this, instead of blowing stuff like this off as a “hmmm…that’s interesting,” I let tiny bubbles of panic float around in the back of my mind. Every now and then, one of those bubbles will pop, and my mind will give in to those thoughts of worry.

Like, “Is my son sniffling too much?” or “Why is she coughing all of a sudden? WHY IS SHE COUGHING?”

And then, I catch myself. I tell myself to calm down. If my kids are truly sick, my mother’s instinct will tell me. In the meantime, I need to dial back the freak factor a few notches.

I know deep down that it does no good to worry about something that is out of my control. I also know that my kids don’t need that type of phobic parent, and I don’t want them to become germaphobes either.

All I can do is encourage my kids to wash their hands regularly and hope that all of the surfaces they’ve ever licked has helped to build a healthy immune system.

And perhaps I should disable my news notifications.

After I wipe down my phone, of course.

9 years ago…

Yesterday was my and Jon’s ninth wedding anniversary. 9 years. Almost a decade. Our marriage has lasted longer than TomKat.

We generally don’t make too much of a fuss about our anniversary. Gifts are usually small if any at all, there are cards exchanged, and we might make it to dinner by ourselves. Jon doesn’t quite know it yet, but I have big plans for our 10th. It involves shipping the kids off, escaping to a tropical paradise, and being hand fed peeled grapes and fruity drinks by cabana boys. And Jon can come too if he wants.

In the meantime, I thought I’d try to plan a little romantic surprise here. Last week I secured a babysitter, and after asking around for suggestions I made a reservation at one of the most popular romantic places in town, a French restaurant called The Refectory.  And since I had done all this in secrecy, this was my gift to Jon.  Viola!

But, Murphy’s Law would dictate that things would not go according to plan.  The babysitter texted me on Tues, saying that she’d been in the hospital all weekend with mono.  Well, now.  Crap.  A frantic hour of calls and texts to all our reserves proved unfruitful, and suddenly we found ourselves with Zero plans for our anniversary.

I was determined to make something happen though.   The wheels began to turn on Plan B.   I thought, “Hey!  The kids are in school Thursday morning, why not go to breakfast to celebrate?”  Good idea, n’est pas?

Jon got back in to town on Wednesday afternoon, and as the evening went on, I could hear Plan B slowly deflate.  Jon had come down with a cold and I could tell he wasn’t going to be in any condition to head out early in the morning. And the cough that’s been nagging me for a week suddenly got worse.  There would be no making out or romance, that’s for sure.

Still, I was determined to rally.  We need to celebrate our love, dammit!  While I threatened to cancel our anniversary all together, Plan C materialized.  We’d take the kids with us and celebrate as a family by heading to an upscale Mexican restaurant that we’d wanted to try that had a decent kids menu. Jon took a smorgasbord of drugs, I doped up on Mucinex and we went on our way.

Now, let me interject some observations in here for a second.  Kids, though they mean well, could really care less about anyone else’s special day if it’s not theirs. My two fully understand the concept of their own birthdays and relish in being celebrated gloriously for a day.  For my birthday a month ago?  Well, there were happy birthday wishes throughout the day, and they served me breakfast in bed, but they still fought every chance they got, still chose not to listen to our requests, and my daughter served up a giant plate of crankiness halfway through lunch.

When we got to the restaurant, I took a second after we sat down and resorted to begging.  “Please, guys, this is Mommy and Daddy’s special day.  Can you PLEASE behave in this nice restaurant?  That means eating your food with UTENSILS, no sugar packet wars and no sprawling out on the booth seat like it’s a day bed.”

All in all?  They did pretty well.  Or, at least they tried to.  Anniversary dinner with your kids though isn’t the same.  Trying to hold a conversation with your spouse so you can “connect” while simultaneously stopping to say “please sit on your bottom and stop eating ketchup like it’s soup” doesn’t really hold the same romantic vision that I had originally wanted.

Still, this is our life.  And these kids are the proof of our love.  A reminder to Jon and I that we chose each other to head out on this adventure together.  For better or worse.  In sickness and in health.  And if this is the only anti-romantic anniversary we’ve had to endure over the last 9 years, I consider myself very lucky.


You might think it’s funny, but it snot….

That is NOT a typo…up there in that title.  I’m swimming in nasal fluid over here and I’m ready for whatever cold that has hit our house to move on out.  Mr. B came home from a sleepover on Saturday morning with a yucky nose, then gave it to Miss P on Sunday, and now I have it.  All of us process colds differently.  Mr. B just gets extremely stuffed up and has that yucky breath for a few days, but otherwise is a happy camper who sleeps like a rock.  I have inherited my family’s history of post-nasal drip, which forces me to sleep sitting completely upright in order not to choke on my own snot.  And Miss P?  Colds quickly move in to her chest (or maybe it’s post-nasal drip that’s causing it) and coughs.  A lot.  Especially at night.  I’ve plowed through a whole bottle of honey already.  I’m on Day 3 of horrible sleep and may very well drug the both of us up with Benadryl tonight. 

Does it make me a horrible parent that I have hit my threshold of patience and compassion after a couple of days?  I felt sympathetic for a while at the beginning, I really did.  But then, after a couple of days (and becoming sleep-deprived doesn’t help), I’m tired of being smeared with snot, wiping off spit after being coughed on, and listening to the gulping during meal times because no one can breathe out of their noses.  All while feeling pretty crummy myself.  Granted, it could be a lot worse.  No one is running a fever, all are in good spirits, and Miss P isn’t really even having a bad case of the 11′s (a term a friend used for the double strip of snot running out of a nose).  It’s a pretty mild, yet annoying cold.  We’ve been using the neti pot, which helps a little, but let’s face it, without an arsenal of drugs to help ease the symptoms, these poor kids have to tough it out.  At least it’s giving us plenty of reasons to eat lots of popsicles.