NOTE: Written last Thursday, 19th January.
Oh. My. God. I am going INSANE. Having recovered from the most extraordinary jetlag in the nick of time, my son started back at nursery last week. Three days later I picked him up to find not one, not two, but FIVE children had thrown up in the classroom, and with that I realised that it was only a matter of time before he too succumbed to this stomach virus that seems to be currently storming through Dubai with unrelenting speed, wiping out everyone in it’s path in plague-like proportions.
Last Wednesday night it hit, spectacularly, at 11pm. At 2am, when everything in a 5 mile radius had been stripped clean, twice, and the little man had passed out exhausted, I crawled into bed with him and spent the remaining hours he lay spreadeagled across 75% of it teetering on the edge, unmoving, poised with a bowl and trying to ignore the crippling pain in my hips and back.
After a night of no sleep, what better way to celebrate than with a day of feeling awful. I’m pretty sure I caught the bug but fought it honourably and managed to limit it’s effects to plain old nausea. Of course I was sick with worry of passing it on, which didn’t help, so I cancelled everything and then felt bad about that too, when my son appeared to make a full recovery by Friday morning.
But oh no, this bug is pure evil. It lay dormant for FOUR DAYS before finally rearing it’s head again on Monday, just as I had gotten used to the idea of having my mornings freed up and having just waved my husband off to foreign climes for the week. And since then I have changed approximately 20 nappies per day, washed my hands in so much of that awful dettol soap that they are cracking up, and have had approximately 12 hours sleep in total. I have not left the house except to go out on an emergency nappy buying mission, I have watched the same DVD of the Wiggles at least 7 times (the little man won’t watch anything else right now), and I have not spoken to anyone over the age of 2 for what feels like months.
I am very lonely. A sick child is not just upsetting but completely isolating too. I have relied on the power of Facebook to keep me sane but it hasn’t worked terribly well, I’m just appearing publicly unhinged instead of keeping it to myself. It’s one of those moments in parenting that no-one can explain to you about beforehand, that you wouldn’t understand even if they did. Of course the priority is my child, and I have to say this has been particularly upsetting to watch because it’s the first time he’s been ill and been able to understand and voice what’s happening to him. But I’m terrified of getting it too, and that is almost as bad as watching him suffer, because I know that being sick and having to be mummy at the same time is misery wrapped up in a box with a cherry on top. And finally, the rather more selfish bit of me is going loopy at being stuck in the house with no break and no time to myself, and I want him so badly to get better so that he can go back to school on Sunday that I’m feeling quite ill with guilt, never mind anything else.
But most of all I want to be rescued because this is so hard, and I know full well there is no rescue, it’s called parenting and I just have to get on with it.
Sunday 22nd January.
It’s over. My son is well and happy and back at school. My husband is home. I have 101 things to do this morning but wanted to finish this post before the feelings fade away and life goes back to normal again. Why? Because last week, in between the endless nappy changes and the tears, we had a ball. Forced together with no-one else to rescue us and unable to leave the house, we did all sorts of activities that I wouldn’t usually do on a day to day basis – cooking, making dressing up costumes and props, attempting huge floor puzzles, building houses with lego, holding tea parties in tents, making collages, assault courses – you name it, we’ve done it this week. And I can truthfully say I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know my son a little more than I did before as we explored all of this together. Not that I’m a terrible mother the rest of the time – it’s just easy to get complacent and let them play with the same old toys while you try your best to organise the rest of life around them.
I know that there were certainly moments last week I wasn’t proud of and I let the tiredness and the stress get to me on more than one occasion – but for the most part, I feel that both my son and I rose admirably to the challenge and we survived, together as a team. It was one of the best and worst weeks of motherhood to date. And although I’m mighty glad to have a quiet, empty house this morning, to be able to go to the bathroom without company, and to drink a cup of tea in its entirety before it gets stone cold, I kind of miss the little fella.