Every so often, just when you think you are getting the hang of this parenting thing, after you think you can start to cruise a little bit, something comes along and knocks you off your pedestal, reminding you of how little you know.
Yesterday The Pea came down with a high fever. Due to some combination of genes, nutrition, sanitation, breastfeeding and luck, our Pea hardly ever gets sick, just a couple of colds per year, maybe one ear infection. So when she started complaining of a headache, bad tummy, stiff neck and aching hips, a little warning bell started ringing in the back of my head, Meningitis! Meningitis! Meningitis! I freaked out. We took her directly to urgent care to have her checked out. Well, it wasn't meningitis, just some viral fever, maybe flu. She's still quite sick, so she'll be out for a couple of days, but she won't be going into the hospital like I feared.
I felt a bit stupid, like a first-time parent who rushes her newborn in for any little sniffle. But I stand by my decision. I thought about how I would feel if I ignored those symptoms and they really did turn out to be serious. At times like these, I don't feel like a parent, or even a grownup, at all. I wish I had someone to tell me what to do. Boy, did I feel helpless.
Helpless to see her face flushed red-hot with fever, her eyes staring at me, so dull and listless and red;
Helpless to feel her skin burning so hot I can barely touch her;
Helpless to see the girl who cannot keep still, lying meekly on her bed, her body directing its energy toward the war that raged within;
Helpless to hear her racking coughs and sobs as mere drops of water made her skin tingle and ache;
And helpless to do anything about it.
Was I right to panic like that? Maybe my judgment is a bit off. See, I'm sick too. I seem to have the same thing that she has. But it's just a minor irritation, an annoyance that's getting in the way of caring for my daughter and making her more comfortable until she gets better.
This post is also published at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.