Spring brought daffodils, influenza and strep throat to our house.
Like singing a round where different voices chime in choreographed waves, we were knocked down in symmetrical succession. As soon as one family member rose, blinking away the fog of four lost days, the next already was falling.
I thought there was a law of physics, or statistics, or even germ warfare safeguarding families from the fall of the matriarch, but this Mama fell hardest and longest. I spent seven days peeking out from under my winter hat with blankets pulled up to my chin. Perhaps I had it coming to me, like the fees on a bounced check. I've had four years of care-giving with no more than a full day here and there spent in bed recovering from whatever illness the children dragged home.
On the fourth day of purgatory, bandied about by the febrile twin demons sweat and shiver, I began to miss my children. Sure, I was on my third novel, while Dan managed the clown team and simmered up herbal infusions and garlicky chicken soup for his wife. But life was painfully idle, quiet and stationary behind my toxic bedroom door.
There were reunions. Despite the fact that my room was utterly infested with what felled me, the kids remained brave and regular visitors. Like some fragile Victorian mother convalescing with consumption, I would rub their shiny heads from my sick bed, bewitched by their shimmering bodies.
Col, 4, devised a brilliant game where he hid my hot water bottle and then drew me a "treasure map," which I could study in bed. His treasure maps were pieces of paper pulled out of a wildlife coloring book and amended with his scribbles, revealing the precise location of the lost treasure, if one could decipher such advanced cartography.
I'd venture: "So, looks like the hot water bottle is a few paces north of the bald eagle and slightly east of the moose. How 'bout, in Rosie's crib?"
"Close, Mama," he'd say, duly impressed.
There is untold fun to be had with kids while never rising from your bed. We read gazillions of books. When we were all so depressed from lack of sun on our faces, I smuggled in the big guns: glue, stapler, tape and sewing needles. We stapled paper chains, Col sewed a dish towel into a modern art representation of an octopus eating an accordion and Rose taped her legs together.
I am not saying this too loudly, but I put the ibuprofen back on the shelf last night. Today I was upright more hours than prostrate. I swept and mopped the house like it was a privilege. I think it may be. I am grateful to again be cavorting with the wild children, even in the whipping spring wind.
Rachel Turiel's column runs the first and third Sundays of the month. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.