'Mothering gene' meets its match in the form of post-holiday sn

December 03, 2004|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

It has been said that moms are not allowed to get sick.

We apparently are supposed to have some kind of gene that makes us immune to the germs our children bring home. It must be a powerful gene.

We wipe noses, duck when our children sneeze and keep a clothespin handy for those times when we have to clean up the aftermath of an upset stomach.

Through it all, we stay healthy. Well, most of the time we do.

When we don't, it's as if the world stops.

No one knows where to find anything. No one knows what to do next. The whole family seems much, much quieter.


These images are fresh in my mind. Both my children were sick over Thanksgiving weekend. On the days we could sleep in, they were up early asking for medicine or a drink. Each afternoon I rocked my youngest to sleep and gave my oldest encouraging hugs.

Each evening I rubbed decongestant vaporizing ointment on their chests as I tucked them in early. Then I got to bed early myself. I wanted us all to be healthy for the start of this week.

Monday came and I knew that wasn't going to happen. The sniffles, coughs and aches just weren't leaving as quickly as I had planned. By that afternoon, all I could think of was a warm bed. But there was supper to make, dishes to wash and laundry to do. I finished each task slower than the last.

By Tuesday morning, I knew my "mothering gene" had met its match. I needed a day in bed. The only problem was that my 5-year-old wasn't well enough to go to school.

After my husband and son had left for work and school, I broke the news to my daughter: "Mommy has to go back to bed."

She looked as if I had just said the world was going to end.

"Why, Mommy?"

I told her I was sick.

"Why are you sick?"

As I was making my way to the bed I muttered something along the lines of "Moms get sick sometimes."

She stood there looking at me and then very quietly asked, "Who will be my playmate?"

Before I could start feeling guilty, a bright smile danced on her lips.

"Mommy, can I watch something?"

Normally, the answer would be no, but on this day, I viewed PBS as a solution to my need-for-rest problem. She probably watched more TV on that one morning than she has in the entire month of November. But she was resting and I was resting - something we both needed.

By lunchtime, she was bored with TV and wanted to play Chutes and Ladders.

I consented, as long as we could play it on the couch. She offered to spin the spinner for me and move my game piece. I fell asleep and woke up just as she reached the 100 block. I wanted to suggest taking another nap, but she wasn't tired yet.

"There's nothing to do, Mommy."

Oh, but there is, I assured her. We could put together a puzzle. We could quietly look at books. We could color.

The last suggestion was a winner. She ended up doing most of the coloring and then decided it was time for another nap. We slept most of the afternoon, waking only to cough occasionally.

When my husband called late in the day to check on us, we were still on the couch.

I asked him to bring home a few things. I had called my doctor's office and was told to take 500 milligrams of Vitamin C, twice a day.

He said he'd pick that up, along with ginger ale, cough medicine, chicken soup and a new humidifier for our house.

There's one store clerk who knows what's going on here. Hopefully her "mothering gene" will prevent it from coming to her house.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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