Wednesday, March 07, 2007

sick house

“I can’t possibly drive us to pick up Madeleine,” I gasped to Brendan. “I look green and sick.”

“No, mama. You look um-pletely reg-a-lur,” Brendan insists.

“Not sick?”

“Tired a little, but not sick.”

“Well I feel sick.”

“But you look reg-a-lur. Just the same. Get in the car.” Brendan and I have spent the last two days together, and I’ve gotten used to him bossing me around. Usually I remind him he is not the boss and may not speak to me in that tone, but this time he’s talking sense. I get in the car. Someone needs to pick up the girl. We visit a drive-up for the first time this calendar year, to fortify ourselves with hot chocolate for Brendan, and hot cider for my blazing throat.

And we drive. Brendan is sick enough that he doesn’t ask a single question for the twenty-minute drive. We make the turnaround as quickly as possible, and he doesn’t ask a single question on the way home, either.

I stayed home yesterday to nurse Brendan through a cold, and silly me, I caught the cold myself. I managed to find Madeleine a playdate after school, feeling satisfied to keep her away from our sickhouse—now of course her playmate is home with the throw-up flu today. I’d be nervously watching for symptoms, if I wasn’t too sick to care right now. It’s just a cold. Just the aches. Just the sore throat that won’t end. Just something.

The funny thing about parenting while sick? I do the exact same things as when I’m not sick. Empty the dishwasher again, move the laundry again, make dinner again. Same tasks, but without much joy. I daydream of my mother, feeding me toast and tea, changing the cool cloth on my head, and of sleeping, sleeping, sleeping until I feel better. Not for me—not today. If she were alive I would call her to elicit sympathy—but there is no one to call except other moms, who know this story well and live it everyday.

I’ve gotten a lot done this week, strategizing to publish my writing, talking shop with other writers, proposing stories, writing publishers. I’ve uncluttered vast swaths of my condo, one section at a time. Four bags of paper to the recycling, two boxes of stuff to the thrift shop, hunting down hand-looms on eBay for a friend, and teaching children to weave. I’ve given my cat a stringent refresher course on using the litter box, at the price of a few nasty blood-lettings. Even in weather below freezing, I’ve gotten kids out to play for a bit of fresh air, almost every day.

And last night we ate chicken pie for dinner, one of those miraculous combinations of leftovers, a pie more delicious than all its ingredients. I’m feeling very smart, now, that I baked two pies, so the spare pie is tonight’s dinner. My imagination exited hours ago, but that buttery crust and the mashed potatoes on top will taste just as good tonight, with the chicken, carrots and peas in gravy. It's not quite chicken soup: it's glorified chicken soup.

The children have the nerve to ask me what’s for dessert. I don’t know. I’ll make it up as I go along. Just a few more hours and we will all be in bed, with me dreaming of my mother, toast and tea, and them dreaming of another day at school, if we can only manage to all be well tomorrow

4 comments:

Linda said...

Denise,
I hope you all feel better soon! Being sick with this junk that's floating around is definitely not fun.
Earlier you said that I could email you privately and we could correspond. I'd love that, but I can't figure out how to email you privately! I've looked all over the blog page and on Blogger and don't see how to do it.
I appreciate your suggestion about William Zinsser. I loved his books about Writing Well and Writing to Learn. I haven't read the memoir one yet. I have more writing books than the local libraries--I'm surprised that I don't have that one!

Get well!
Linda

Denise said...

Oh, so sorry-- I thought that was easier. I'll try to think of some method that doesn't invite the whole world to send me more spam.

Seems like, from my little site meter, you have read everything I've written twice! Flattery, that lovely thing writers crave.

We'll find some way. I'll get back to you.

jennifer said...

Well, last week must have been sick week. Sunday night Evangeline (7.5) started feeling bad. By Monday morning she had a fever, and her throat was blazing red. Little sister Charis had a fever of 102, but no other symptoms. Off to the pediatrician we went. Strep for E. with an antibiotic, and an unnamed virus for Charis. I also felt crummy. We were home together for 2 days. Friday night, Nevin (9) had stomach flu. Sunday my husband had it. Sunday night the stomach flu hit Evangeline, so she was home again today.
I think spring is the time for infections and viruses to flourish.

shauna said...

please call me the next time you feel not so good.

i remember my sick mom calling out for her mother (who lived 500 miles away) and now I do it too.