Guilt and the Single Mom

Every morning this week, the kid has complained to me about being sick – stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, scratchy throat, itchy throat, dry throat, watery eyes, boogery eyes, inner ear pain, external ear pain, cough, and a patch of shedding skin on the bottom of her foot.

(one of these things is not like the others!)

And every morning this week, I’ve sent the kid to school.  A simple cold, as miserable as I know it can make a person feel, does not warrant a sick day for me.  I’m a single mom and I have to go to work.  Sure, I have accrued leave time but I have to pick and choose wisely.  I fret over the little what-ifs. The fact that I may take off a sick day this week to stay home with Elle who has a cold could risk the opportunity to stay home if one of us gets hit by the flu later on this season.  Or, have mercy on us all, if one gets hit and then the other gets hit…that could equal days off from work, maybe even a week.  I just cannot afford it.

Fever, vomiting, bleeding.  If your illness does not exhibit one of those symptoms, you have to go to school. But when your very own child holds her throat in her hands and complains that it hurts so bad, there’s no nice way to break it to her:  no fever, no barfing, no bleeding (at least upon a surface inspection), you gotta go to school.

I’m so sorry.  I wish I could tuck her back into bed, snuggle with her until she falls back to sleep or watch a movie with her after I’ve doped her up with Dimetapp and Tylenol.  She always takes such good care of me when I don’t feel well and I wish I could take care of her, too.  To say it’s just a cold brings her no comfort because, well…believe me.  I’ve tried.  All she knows is she feels like crap and that I’m being mean enough to send her to school.

E: “Mommy, my throats still hurts and now my tummy is sick.” (after I picked her up from school tonight)

Me: “Well, I can’t miss work tomorrow because I have an office Christmas party to go to.  And you have your own pizza party for your class tomorrow.  You don’t wanna miss that, do you?”

One Kid Cuisine and turkey hot dog later, oh – and a bowl of ice cream, I think her tummy ache is gone.  Of course, I believe she wasn’t feeling well considering the number of times she voluntarily blew her nose without me having to nag her. Pizza is a wonderful motivator, don’t you think?

And wouldn’t you know it – now I have the sniffles and sneezes.   The only thing I want to do is crawl into my bed and snuggle with someone I love, watch a movie after I’ve doped myself up with Dimetapp and Tylenol.   But I can’t because I have to set the example.

A girl can dream, right?  Meaningful, dark, deep dreams fueled by cough medicine and anti-sniffy pills??  Sure, why not. 



About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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2 Responses to Guilt and the Single Mom

  1. Sra says:

    My mom used to just leave me home alone when I stayed home sick. Is that not something parents do anymore?

  2. Dena says:

    Not these days. Besides, she’s only 9. I think when your kids turn 12 they are considered “old enough” to be left alone.

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