I’m a huge fan of horror movies but I am quick to discount ones that just use blood and gore to cause fear. The good ones? They are the ones that build a sense of dread you can feel deep down in the pit of your stomach.
What rivals that particular brand of dread? The sinking feeling you get when hear that first sniffle or cough or, god forbid, the heaving sound preceding something much, much worse. Someone in your house is sick and it’s just a matter of time before it starts taking you out, one by one.
Last week, I was feeling like the world’s worst parent. Nowhere near the likes of Joe Jackson or Mommy Dearest, but far from getting my #1 Mom coffee mug. I had taken my son to get his tongue tie released, which then required multiple times a day where I needed to force his mouth open with a bite guard and press his sore tongue back while he screamed and cried.
So, I decided take him and his baby sister to the kids museum for a day of fun, to remind him that his mom wasn’t there to cause him pain and discomfort. To gird my loins and make my maiden voyage outnumbered by my children to a hot spot of chaos and germs.
Maybe I was distracted by my youngest and my son licked a door handle, kissed a snot-nosed kid on the mouth, or drank from a lone-standing sippy cup in the fraction of a second I looked away. Maybe it was as banal as him pushing around the toy lawn mower he loves so much and then touching his face.
I did my normal routine of wiping down little hands once they were in their car seats, then washing them once we got home. Then two nights later, my son was up every hour. I (wrongly) thought his tongue was bothering him, so I dosed him with Motrin and tried to calm him back down.
Then in the morning I saw his weepy eyes and runny nose and thought back to all the drinks I shared and kisses I gave in the past 24 hours, feeling helpless for what was to come, like I was backed into a corner by some masked villain about to meet my maker. There was no amount of Clorox that would have helped without a time machine.
And as sure as the sun will rise, I began feeling that all too familiar tickle in my throat later that evening. Another 12 hours from that and I can hear my youngest being woken up by her own coughing on the baby monitor.
Like in a horror movie, we were being picked off one by one. Maybe if you look at the cold virus under a microscope, they are all actually wearing little tiny ski masks while our immune systems sleep soundly in their little lakeside cabins. All the while, my husband is out on a boat in the middle of Crystal Lake thinking he’s safe after spending most of his time away at work.
I’m rooting for you, babe, but we all know how this ends.