I get up, because there’s not much else to do.
On one side of me is my older son, hot with fever; on my other side is my younger son, coughing up a storm. At my head is the alpha cat, so alpha–“I will lie here, where I want to, and you will rest your head on me and I will lick your chin and you will pet me, but not too much.” Yes, sir. Whatever you say, 9-pound kitten. He’s still a kitten, but so big that when he clumps down the stairs we sometimes can’t tell if it’s him or my younger boy.
It’s 2:30 a.m. I’d been hoping it was later. I’d like a good night’s sleep. Both kids are sick. The younger one is technically well enough to send to school tomorrow, assuming the school doesn’t mind him coughing all over the place, and the older boy is going to his dad’s.
Today, Wednesday, the plan was to finally get in a full day’s work (and make up for yesterday and Tuesday, when I was caring for sick children and needed a nap myself yesterday to make up for a terrible night of sleep). I have a full-time job but am paid hourly. I get some vacation pay but no sick days or PTO.
Alpha Cat has diarrhea. I don’t know if I should take him to the vet or change his diet to grain-free for a week first. Between my own illness (norovirus? food poisoning?), divorce prep, divorce court, and sick kids, I haven’t put in a full week of work in weeks. Can I take the time to take the cat to the vet?
A full day’s work, finally, plus a hill workout because I am training for a hell of a trail race in early May and am behind in training, then maybe going out to meet a friend.
But it’s 2:30 a.m. and I am wide-awake. I could work, but I don’t feel like it. I crack open a beer my friend stashed in my bag after our amazingly icy ski day on Sunday and read an essay about late-term abortion. I wish women didn’t have to write these things to explain why abortion laws need to change. Not everyone can fly to that one clinic in Colorado when they learn at 20+ weeks that their baby will have a short, horrible, painful life, IF it survives birth. Abortion can be compassionate, you know.
The younger child comes down, crouches on the kitchen floor. “Why are you down here?” he asks. It’s now 3:20 a.m.
I offer him honey, tea, ginger ale, water, lemon-honey tea. He wants none of it. He finally agrees to cold water out of my second-favorite coffee mug. I explain I can’t sleep and will be upstairs soon. I lead him back to bed.
As if I can sleep in the middle, between a feverish furnace and someone with a hacking cough, the usual knees and elbows, plus Alpha Kitty on my head. As if I’d rather be anywhere else or sleep alone.
I rub backs, give water from cups with bendy straws, reassure everyone I’ll be up soon.
It is 3:34 a.m. and the coughing has stopped. I can’t hear the moaning from the fevered boy.
Tomorrow Coughy will return to school, because he is technically well enough (hasn’t had a fever all day, hasn’t vomited). I will bring the older boy to his dad’s house. This sounds heartless, yes? Monday was my custody day but the younger child was too sick to go anywhere, so I returned home, got my laptop, and returned to my ex-husband’s house to work there and tend our younger child, because I can work from home and my ex cannot, so I worked from his house so he could go into the office.
I told him I’d bring my own food and coffee and wouldn’t touch his stuff. He offered to make me a pot of coffee, anyway.
By Monday afternoon I told the sick child that I’d carry him to the car wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, we’d get his brother from school, and go back to my house, a 20- to 25-minute drive. This time, he didn’t protest.
I think this is pretty functional co-parenting, right?
It is nearly 4 a.m. now. Alpha Kitty is watching me. I don’t want to climb back into my hot germy bed with all the knees and elbows and people moaning and coughing on me. I don’t know where to sleep. I need to sleep. I don’t want to sleep.