Parenting While Sick: The Sixth Circle of Hell

I’ve been struggling with a nasty flu that hit me fast. I’m no doctor, but the high fever, cold sweats, and general misery are all symptoms of a radioactive spider bite. So I’m thinking there’s a good chance I’ll come out of this thing with super powers, which is exciting, but also kind of unnerving because my frame isn’t exactly built for a leotard, you know?

Sadly, the doctor disagreed with my diagnosis. There would be no superpowers. It was just something viral that one of my kids brought home. Children truly are the gift that keeps on giving.

Throughout all this, I got to enjoy a couple of brutal days of parenting while sick. My wife abandoned me for “work,” leaving me with 12 hours of quality time with two 3.5-year-olds and a 101 fever.

It’s a little known fact that “parenting while sick” was actually the punishment given to heretics in the sixth circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno, but Dante’s editor thought the punishment was too harsh, so they went with flaming tombs instead.

Every typical parenting duty—getting the kids dressed, fixing breakfast—is a slow, agonizing torture when your fever is so high you can feel your toenails grow. Suddenly, a simple request like, “daddy, can I have a juice box?” becomes a monumental feat of heroics. It’s only 12 steps from the couch to the fridge, but she may as well have asked me to squeeze the apple juice from a stone.

I spent a lot of time “supervising” from the couch…with my eyes closed.

On the upside, I learned that my two little toddlers are really sweet children with an amazing capacity for empathy. My daughter kept bringing me various trinkets (a watch, a juice box, a salt shaker) and saying, “this will make your body better, daddy.” My son didn’t throw a single tantrum over the color of his milk cup, the volume of the TV, the wattage of the light bulbs—the things that usually set him off. Instead, they played well together, building an entire city of block towers, and asked me throughout the day if I was feeling any better now.

I also learned that I’m probably a better parent when I’m sick, which is surprising. I’ve always known that I’m a great “tipsy parent” (no one loves their kids more than I love my kids after four beers), but I’m probably the world’s worst hungover parent. The combination of physical pain and emotional guilt is too much for my feeble mind to handle.

Sidenote: I’ve always suspected that potheads would make great stay-at-home parents. Is anyone more patient or better at craft projects? I don’t think so.

Anyway, when I was sick, I was way more patient than I usually am, and by patient, I mean I let the kids do whatever they wanted.

Goldfish and donuts for lunch? Sounds good. Want to build a tower out of old batteries and scissors? Wash your hands first.

I just didn’t have the energy to fight the good fight for nutrition and safety. Maybe tomorrow.

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11 thoughts on “Parenting While Sick: The Sixth Circle of Hell

  1. Oh I have totally been there… Last summer a radioactive Mosquito got me while we were on vacation and by the time I got home I was just glowing with West Nile and spent 10 days in bed. I think I was in the basement of the sixth circle of hell…
    I completely sympathize. Get better…and drink lots of juice.

  2. LOL!! This reminded me when I was a stay at home mom to my twins, now 10. At the time they were 1 or 2, and as you know, getting into everything. I had some horrible flu and knew I was on the verge of death. I put the big baby gate up, blocking any doors. I poured cheerios on their little playschool picnic table, a few slices of cheese and filled the cups with milk…then I curled up on the couch and “supervised”. Oh what memories. Hope you are feeling better!!

  3. Ha ha, well I hope you’re pleased with yourself, you just made me laugh out loud . You might think I sound ungrateful but you see I’m reading in bed, 1 am and I just woke my pregnant wife .(she’s not amused by the way) Entirely your fault but well done , must remember to read your blog in the daytime

  4. Pingback: Boobology 101 | TheFurFiles

  5. Once when I was sick (or maybe hungover, who can remember?) and my daughter was little, I opened a bag of oreos, dragged over the “vat o’ Barbies” and let her go nuts. I alternated which eye I closed. When my husband came home she said that she had “the best day ever!” Sad, but true.

    Love your blog! Fern turned me onto it the other day, but this is the first chance I have had to comment!

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