Three-year-olds, on the other hand, are very selective about the cuddling they accept, are a little large for swaddling, and give kisses on their terms, not yours. They are too busy running, jumping and asking questions to pause long enough to be affectionate.
The only exception is when they’re sick. And while it breaks my heart to see my baby under the weather (where does that term come from, anyway?), I can’t help but love the sudden requests for snuggle time and back rubs it brings — not to mention the frequent naps and early bedtimes. Because if all parents can agree on one thing, it’s that bedtime should come as soon as possible. Sleep is a very precious thing.
I love cuddling and sleeping, so it makes sense that I also kind of love sick days. Not love as in, “Yay, I’m so excited Molly’s vomiting and feverish and generally unwell,” but love as in, “I get to play doctor and indulge in my maternal instincts while taking frequent naps and avoiding the grocery store.” Sick days are kind of like mini-vacations. I don’t mind taking the occasional sick day myself when I’m in need of a little uninterrupted sleep.
But when these sick days actually happen, like this week with my daughter’s cold and my wisdom teeth extractions, I’m reminded of how awful they truly are. They appear to have everything going for them: no school or work, doctor’s orders to rest, and guilt-free laziness, but then there’s the whole “being sick” thing. It isn’t fun, comfy, relaxing or enjoyable at all. Sick people don’t get to enjoy very many things, not even their warm beds or chicken noodle soup because they can’t focus on anything but their pounding heads, gurgly stomachs and greenish skin.
And when those sick people happen to be 3-year-olds like my daughter, they hate taking medicine and have to be tricked into it three times a day. One of these tricks is calling my mom to report that Molly’s taken her medicine, which earns her a Hot Wheels car. This has been working pretty well on my end, but Mom is going to have to buy a ton of Hot Wheels. You win some, you lose some.
Feeling sick, taking medicine, not being able to taste the delicious chicken soup you’re eating, and not being able to get comfortable in your warm bed don’t really sound like a mini-vacation. Now that I’m thinking about it, sick days are pretty horrible. I take back all those things I said about kind of loving them.
Even though it’s fun to go into Nurse Mom mode, I’m always relieved when health is restored and my house stops smelling like Lysol.
(Editor’s Note: Debra Carpenter is a novice mother, wife and college student. And, she is a syndicated columnist whose work is published in several Tennessee newspapers. She writes about the parts of parenthood you didn’t expect when you were expecting. Like the fan page at Facebook.com/MotherInterrupted or visit the website at MotherInterrupted.com.)