Don’t call us, we’ll call you

November 30, 2010


Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , , , — llcall @ 7:47 am

I don’t know who originated this saying (I’ve read Mark Twain and Groucho Marx before), but I love it.  One of the truisms in life:

I was a much better parent before I had kids.

Um, yeah.  I had a lot of ideas about what I would and wouldn’t do, and well, a lot of them went out the window in the first week or two.  But here’s a realization that has been months in the making.

First, a little background.  Illness is one of my soapbox issues.  Because I’m immune-compromised, I have a vested interest in people steering clear of me when they’re sick, not to mention staying home to, you know, GET BETTER.  And guess what, Americans really suck at this!  Somehow the idea has been perpetuated (why?  WHY?) that trucking on through illness is actually noble.  Got the sniffles . . . probably best to go to work anyway (and spread it around the office).  Hacking up lung . . . you belong at school (where you can infect others)!  (Can you sense the annoyance here?)  I’ve felt this way for a long time, and been the unwilling recipient of many communicable diseases, but my frustration really kicked up a notch in February 2007 when I fell horribly ill . . . in the middle of Neal’s marriage proposal.  [I may or may not have asked that the stats lab assistant that thought it was a great idea to come into work (in a 6-foot wide office with zero ventilation, no less) while violently ill burn in you-know-where forever.]

But I digress.  So long story short, it bugs me when people go about their regular business,* spreading their germs to unwitting individuals like me, thinking that it is no big deal because they’re not that sick.  Because the problem for people like me is that it may not be that bad for you, but it is usually 10 times worse for me.  Most illnesses trigger a multitude of my chronic problems and seriously impede my ability to function.  And of course, it always seemed even more egregious for parents to not sequester their sick kids because kids constantly exchange germs in weird and wonderful ways.

But here I am, 9 months into this great parenthood experiment and I’ve learned another truth: it is surprisingly difficult to figure out if your child is sick!  Maybe, hopefully, this gets easier as they get older (although my brother certainly seemed to make it perpetually difficult with his sudden-onset illnesses whenever certain tasks or events arose).  In particular, teething seems to really muddy the waters.  I mean, how annoying is it that teething can cause fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, runny nose, congestion, crankiness, and probably about 50 other conditions?!  And apparently any or all of these symptoms can last for a few hours or, you know, MONTHS.  Shouldn’t ESP be required for child-rearing?

Thus far, Addison has not been a sickly child and I’m grateful for that because it turns out that we’ve generally only been able to definitively determine that she was sick after she was over it and we caught it (thankfully, a cold turned out to be the chief cause of these terrible nights in October).

What prompted my musings on this subject this morning was that I was again playing the guessing game, is Addison sick?  She clearly wasn’t her usual self, crying after her morning feeding when usually she rolls around with a happily bulging belly, but she’s also 9 months old and still toothless, so in theory teething could be happening at any or all times.  Of course, as the day went on, I learned something else.  When my baby is really sick, I’ll probably be able to figure it out by a combination of such unusual things as:

  1. Taking a 4-hour morning nap, and then wanting another just 2 hours later
  2. Preferring to sit on my lap rather than crawl, cruise, or try to walk
  3. Letting me hold her in a cradle position for 10 minutes straight — what the???
  4. Cuddling up to me for an hour or two without moving an inch
  5. Looking at the TV for more than 2 seconds at a time

So to sum up and get to bed while the babe is mercifully sleeping,

Addison = very sad, sick baby.

Neal = owing me so big for the fact that he is sleeping peacefully in Utah while I try to comfort our feverish little lady.

Trying to figure out if kids are sick = surprisingly complicated.

Lindsay = no longer judging parents for taking their runny-nosed children out in public.

* Of course, I recognize there are people that don’t have a choice about whether they go to work or not, and don’t have the luxury of taking a sick day.  I get that, and make allowance for it.  But it doesn’t change my annoyance at what I consider a twisted societal ethic that celebrates not taking sick days even when you’re sick or playing through the pain at any cost.



  1. Some of my biggest parenting guilt has occurred after I have taken an apparently completely healthy child to nursery, only to find at pick up time that their nose is running green trails down their face and they have a fever. It can come out of NOWHERE. But I do try to keep my kids home if I know they are sick. I totally agree with you in this. However, I am finding it more and more complicated the more people there are in our family. If one of us is sick, do the rest of us cancel everything? I’m always trying to figure it out.

    Comment by Aislin — November 30, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  2. This was so timely. I woke up with a very sore throat and called in sick to work but was debating whether to go in anyway because other than my throat, I feel just fine. Ok, you have persuaded me to sit tight in bed with a hot cup of soup!

    Comment by Emily T — November 30, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

  3. I’m sorry to hear your baby is sick. Isn’t that the worst? (althoug, I secretly like the fever cuddle)I try hard to keep my kids away or warn future guests of any illnesss pending. But N has allergies that can produce a clear runny nose and a croupy cough – it sounds horrible. And you’re right, that teething is tricky. I hope Addison is feeling better very soon and you don’t catch it.

    Comment by Jolene — November 30, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  4. I’m sorry your baby is sick and you are coping alone. No fun. Never, actually, when babies are sick.

    And, we subscribe to the “staying home when sick” philosophy. I too wish others would. It is bad enough that I live in a petri dish, I don’t need anyone else to help keep things hot.

    Comment by Linsey — November 30, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  5. Well put! It is so hard . . . I am pretty responsible about being homebound when we’re sick (and now that I have a child I’m much better about it than I was when I was single/just me and Ry), but it can be tricky. Especially when Katie only has a runny nose and no other symptoms, not even tired or cranky. I figure it must be teething or allergies, and try not to guilt over it because if we stayed home every time Katie only had a runny nose, my emotional health would suffer.

    Comment by Vickie Blanchard — November 30, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  6. Agreed- I hate people getting me sick!
    Agreed- baby illness is the most confusing! We just blame everything on teething… and give eliza lane tylenol… but she has NO teeth yet! 😉

    Comment by Rachel — November 30, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

  7. I hope your baby gets better soon! She is normally such a happy little thing, and it makes me sad that she’s not feeling well. Good luck, and enjoy the rest of your vacation!

    Comment by Kristin — December 1, 2010 @ 5:17 am

  8. Just in case you are feeling guilt, just compare yourself with me who actually likes my child a little bit (granted only a little bit) sick. I like that he slows down a bit and actually takes a nap here and there. I do have to say though, it is complicated when going into public when you don’t know if your child is sick.

    Comment by Cranney — December 1, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

  9. I confess, I am frequently one of the “power through your sickness” people. I rarely take days off. The way you describe it makes me realize the need to rethink my strategy… And as a soon-to-be parent, I’ll take your wisdom and try to apply it!

    Comment by Chelsey — December 1, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  10. Couldn’t agree more! The year and a half I spent with 6 sick toddlers every day, was the time I’ve been the sickest in my life. Literally.

    What I’ve also learned is that babies and small children carry the most gross version of every cold you’ve ever had, and that’s why it feels so much worse. Adults have worked up immunities to these in most cases, so if you work in a completely adult environment, you are more likely to get over these things faster. But, if you have any interaction with children at all, or if any of the adults you interact with have interaction with children, you are DOOMED.

    By the way, I think all adults should slow down and not work as much. If we did this, we’d all be a LOT happier. So yes, take those sick days, and by golly, forget about the pay check… just think of the gas and lunches out you are probably saving! (Oh, right, and laundry you won’t have to do!)

    Comment by Robin-Elise Call — December 27, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

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