"Don't worry Daddy, I will take care of you", that's when I knew things had really gotten as bad as I felt they were. Any parent will tell you that raising a child requires a dose of patience, a pinch of luck, and a heap of will power. No parent is perfect and no child is a cookie cutter copy of another. If you don't believe me just take a peek at the Self-help section at your local bookstore and you'll see a plethora of How-To's dedicated to the topic of figuring out how to keep some type of sanity while living in the asylum. Being a dad is tough enough when things are going good, when you get sick sometimes will power is all you've got. Thank God for Mommies. I can't imagine what things would be like if I didn't have somebody to pick up this week when I'm obviously falling behind.
Nobody wants their child to be sick, but at least when it happens Mommy and Daddy can still keep the ship on course. Everything from work to laundry to sleep is put aside at a moment's notice so that all efforts can be focused on getting junior well again. When the coin flip lands on the wrong side and it's the parents that get sacked with a case of the downers, that's when a parent's job really begins. Like zombies with some Mystical Being forcing every step and lurch, we are bent on making sure our little ones are not affected or infected by our misfortune. Wearing surgical masks and sweat pants, baseball caps and our comfy jacket, soccer games are still witnessed, homework is still assisted, and birthday parties are still orchestrated. Leaving us crumpled up in a heap afterward as our family is put to bed with smiles on their faces.
Even as I write this I can't help but stare at the clock and count the hours left until the school bell rings in the beginning of the second shift. My head trying to do complex calculations revolving around how many hours have passed since I last took my cough medicine and can another dose be had before I'm on duty again. Worrying all the while that I've done what the doc insists can't be done by passing this plague on to the rest of my brood. Simultaneously planning dinner and staving off nausea as I lay the ground chuck out to defrost. It's not about me though. What keeps me going...what keeps every sick parent motivated when they feel their worst, is the feeling we get from knowing that their family is safe and taken care of. And honestly that may be better medicine than anything the doctor can prescribe.