The infection came from a nasty cold bug I caught from my little one a week ago. She was pretty pitiful – coughing, sneezing, generally at a loss for energy. I don’t think she was as sick as I was with it, and she didn’t contract sinusitis from it. But it’s been a puny couple of weeks for us.
When I called people to explain I would not be showing up due to my illness – people at work, at church – almost all of them chalked up my illness to being the parent of an infant under the age of one. It pleased me that everyone could be supportive, and I heard numerous stories of similar infections and bugs that would run through everyone in the household as the new infant brought home new diseases from daycare and generously shared them with mom and dad. These people also assured me that after this first year, all of us will have developed the resistance to these bugs and we will be sick less often.
Of course, I hated being sick. It required me to miss almost an entire week of work, and I was worthless at home. But I have been reflecting on the sacrifices one must make in order to be a parent. Being physically ill was not something I went into this role expecting. But I suppose this is really just the beginning of being sick over my child. My hunch is that as she grows, my being sick will not be quite so biologically oriented and far more emotional and psychological. This is what you do as a parent: you open yourself up to all kinds of sick-making possibilities. Some of these things are necessary; you have to struggle through them in order to build immunity. Others will be things that might be completely avoidable if only we could see them coming, but we won’t. That’s okay, I think. I believe that vulnerability ultimately makes us stronger, and I do not want to shut out my beautiful daughter for the need to protect myself. So did I refrain from kissing and hugging on her while she was sick? Of course not. And I paid dearly.
There were some rough moments throughout last week where I began to really fear for my long-term health, perseverating on any number of life-threatening scenarios that could possibly explain why I was in such unbelievable pain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super glad to have turned the corner and be feeling better. But I know it will come again, whether in the form of the flu or worry over choices my little girl makes or how other people might treat her. Parenthood is, simply put, a world of pain. That’s because it’s also a world of love.
But, thankfully, it won’t always be a world of glow-in-the-dark snot.