Your world runs like clockwork, until someone’s ear starts to hurt.
Being a working mum is only manageable when the kids are well. When they sick, everything falls into a spectacular pile of shit.
It doesn’t matter how organised you are…
It doesn’t matter if you just won a multi-million-dollar contract for your firm…
All that matters is that your child is sick and they can’t go to school, so one of you – either mum or dad – is staying home.
PAPER, SCISSORS, ROCK!
Or you can do what I did.
I had an early day. I’m a freelancer on retainer, with other work commitments and a uni degree in the works. I have some wiggle room in my schedule – all of which I used up last month when my oldest had whooping cough and the remnants of which I then used up last week when ALL THREE of my children were sick with bronchitis, an upper respiratory infection and an ear infection. So I cancelled my week.
There were a lot of apologies, begging, the lodging of IOUs, and I managed to muddle through the week meeting as many commitments as I could from home in my kitchen, eating all the fun-size Milky Ways and Mars Bars I had bought for after soccer (remind me to buy more before Saturday, will you?).
Over the weekend we were all well enough to resume normal life and last night I was filled with the joy of someone about to be freed from the imprisonment of childhood illness, medicine applicators and aloe vera tissues. I fell asleep with a smile on my face. What a fool.
At 3.30am I woke up with a start. My daughter, Caterina, 5, was standing by my bed quietly crying.
“My ear hurts,” she said, effectively puncturing my happy bubble in a million places in seconds. In my head I said, “No it doesn’t, your ear doesn’t hurt” but out loud I told her to lie down with me and try and go back to sleep. “Maybe she’ll sleep it off” – the fool said.
She refused to take any pain-relieving medication so I wasn’t holding out much hope and her quiet sobbing kept me conveniently awake for the remainder of the early hours as I frantically tried to come up with some way to get through my crazy busy day.
3.57am… Maybe my sister can take her?
4.12am… Maybe Mum will be home?
4.38am.. Maybe I can take her to work with me?
5.07am… Maybe I’ll just send her to school?
As I showered at 5.23am, sick of trying to get back to sleep, I realised it was way too early in the morning to ring and ask anyone for help. I had no choice but to knock on doors in the wee hours. How much did my family love me? I was about to find out.