I hate the flu


I hate the flu. I doubt I’m unique. In the past week and a half, four of my six family members have had the flu, including lucky me. No mother wishes her children sick instead of herself. We would always bear any suffering if we could spare our children from it. But, the fact is that, when kids are sick, they can lie around and rest, and we can fret over them and give them their medicine and their drinks and take care of them as much as they need. When the parents are sick, the kids don’t suddenly feed themselves and dress themselves and drive themselves to school, and the parents don’t get to rest and recuperate to our hearts’ content. Especially when we have three sick children. My two youngest children spent three days last week in their pajamas. At bedtime each night, I changed them into clean pajamas, but I never bothered to actually dress them in the morning for those three days, because I knew we weren’t going anywhere and I felt like crap. Thank God, my husband was one of the two people spared the virus, and he carried quite a load all week, doing all the things we normally do together while carefully keeping himself and our four-year-old out of cough range. He missed work for three days to pick up my slack before I was finally functional enough for him to go back. I was still sick, but at least I wasn’t in bed under a down comforter shivering so hard he could hear my teeth chatter.


My dad is very vocal in his opinion that his secretary and just about everyone else he works with is lazy. Given the opportunity, he will go on for hours about how no one cares about their work anymore. We’re all lazy bums expecting everything to be handed to us. He works SO hard, and others apparently don’t, and his evidence is that his secretary calls in sick often and he never does. Certainly, there are lazy people with an overblown sense of entitlement who will call in sick for no good reason. But while I was sick last week, I couldn’t think straight. I tried making a grocery list for my husband, but I couldn’t concentrate. I spent hours lying in bed with a book and magazine beside me, neither of which I ever opened because I felt too bad, my hands were shaking too hard, and I was thinking through such a haze that I couldn’t have made sense of anything I’d read. I couldn’t possibly have gone to work (if I, you know, had a job), and if I worked and a coworker came in as sick as I was, I’d be furious at the blatant disregard of everyone else’s health.  My husband missed three days of work not because he was sick but because he was needed at home, and he really WAS needed. It wasn’t laziness or entitlement that made him stay home. One of my neighbors recently praised his father on his retirement for never calling in sick. Apparently, that’s a common feature in our parents’ generation. It’s admirable never to have called in sick falsely, but there are plenty of hard-working, conscientious people in the world who have the misfortune to get the flu on occasion. Or to be related to someone who did. Or to have a child with a fever or pinkeye that keeps him out of school. Life happens, and we aren’t missing work on a whim.  There’s more to being a good person than going to work every day.



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