Sick and Tired

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

I think that it's safe to say that I have much experience with childhood illness, seeing as I'm the mother of 12 children. No matter how many times I see flushed cheeks or hear a child's cry of illness in the night, I never stop feeling distressed at the sight or sound of a sick child. Logic has no hold on my imagination as I envisage the worst possible scenario.

I rush about making tea and giving sponge baths. I make charts relating to medication and spiking fevers and I lay my ear on little chests to see if I can hear a wheeze. I plump up pillows and read 5 books one after the other. No wonder my kids LIKE to be sick. In fact, it's clear that Mom is the one who suffers most.

A neat trick

That has become a bit of a problem as some of my school aged kids have learned a neat trick to get my attention. It's called: PLAYING SICK.

If there's no fever, you don't stay home.

How is a mother supposed to distinguish between the actual and the probably not? I have found that there's no way to trick a digital thermometer by holding it near a light bulb or under running hot water. So, I've learned to impose the rule: If there's no fever, you don't stay home.

The rule poses more of a problem for me than for my kids. You see, they may not have a fever, but I'm still concerned that they really ARE ill, or at least, coming down with something dire, and I feel guilty as I shoo them out the door. But, guilt IS a mother's province, right?

I am picturing my child slumped over his desk in a coma.

So, yes, I send them off to the school bus, but with my brain in a tizzy imagining the ambulance that will arrive at the school midmorning to take my child off to the ER, with some nameless, dreadful plague. I find myself trying to enjoy my second cup of coffee while attending to my correspondence and find that my foot is tapping a nervous beat and my mind has wandered far from the letter to my dear old Aunt Matilda. I am picturing my child slumped over his desk in a coma.

The clock ticks so slow today and I am laying in wait by the door when he gets home from school. I get a glimpse of a freckled grin as he calls out, hale and hearty, "Hey Mom. What's for lunch?"