Nasty germs are being passed around Fort Hood faster than two teenage girls can text each other the latest gossip.
I know this because almost every one of my mom-friends has a kid out with something, or did recently.
Each day, it seems another boy drops out of our middle school carpool and my nightstand looks like a pharmacy. Yes, it’s flu season.
Also strep throat, the stomach bug and fill-in-your-illness season. I am seriously considering putting up one of those “Abandon All Hope” signs outside our front door instead of more Christmas decorations.
First it was Ryan, who, over Thanksgiving break, came down with a mysterious stomach ache and briefly, a fever. It could have been the flu but seemed mild and passed quickly.
No sooner was I congratulating myself on having healthy kids again when Andrew caught the flu.
He missed three-and-a-half days of school due to fever, congestion and general listlessness.
He returned to school, seemingly feeling fine but today is home again with a sinus and ear infection.
We were lucky enough to get a clinic appointment and he is now on antibiotics and vats of nose spray.
In between all of this, I was diagnosed with bronchitis — an illness I am intimately familiar with as I’ve had it many times. I recognized the chest pressure and tightness, the hacking cough, and the overall malaise like a woman taking a no-good boyfriend back again and again.
However, after a five-day round of antibiotics, I feel significantly better. I guess this is nature’s way of ensuring I am able to take care of my boy.
My mother certainly took care of me — and my two sisters — over the years. She saw us through numerous ailments, including the chicken pox, too many colds and flus to remember, and a few broken bones.
The one that really stands out for me happened when I was 15 — I was hit with tonsillitis, strep throat and mono all at the same time. Can you say “abject misery?” For me AND my poor mom.
To put it mildly, I was probably not the easiest patient, perhaps even a bit of a drama queen. I clearly remember shuffling around in my PJs while carrying a “spit bowl” and moaning about the unfairness of my life.
Being a fairly sickly kid, I am not surprised that one of my boys seems to have inherited my ability to be allergic to nearly everything, as well the childhood asthma I suffered from.
Of course, nobody tells you how much tougher it is to watch your son or daughter experience these ailments than to endure them yourself.
When I was in the throes of my bronchitis, all I really wanted was my mommy ... well, and my husband back from his deployment.
But this kind of wishful thinking doesn’t help matters.
The trick is to learn how to mother yourself and to let yourself be sick, whenever possible.
That means resting, no matter how many errands await.
And definitely not Christmas shopping or attending any unnecessary social events or cleaning the house. (It’s kind of a nice to have an excuse for that, though the dust and clutter are getting out of control).
Saying “no” to volunteer opportunities is a biggie, too.
There are so many charitable organizations doing amazing things this time of year and not being able to help right now is disappointing.
As I said earlier, many Fort Hood ladies are in the same boat and there is comfort in that.
There is comfort in knowing my parents survived an endless parade of our sicknesses and that this too shall pass.
In the meantime, I will continue to ply Andrew with chicken soup and ginger ale and help him blow his nose and put Vick’s Vapor rub on his chest at night.
At the same time, I will watch Ryan out of the corner of my eye to ensure he’s OK.
And I will be grateful for feeling my energy come back.
Because let’s be honest — one of the only positive things about being sick is that wonderful sensation of returning health, reminding you to not take it for granted this time.