I do love my children, I do, I do. It's just that when everyone is ill it is hard to like them. This week we have been struck down by a tummy bug - my least favourite illness. Coughs and colds I can cope with, but I do hate sick. I can deal with poo, although when it is dribbling down the back of the only pair of trousers we have with us on a visit to the park, I begin to revise this opinion. But sick is another matter - just the whiff of it has me heaving and gagging. Ugh.
Luckily my other half has no such qualms and is rather a star when that plaintive cry reaches up the stairs: "Mummy, daddy, I've been sick". He limbers into action and clears it all away while I gingerly pat the ill child at arms length, using a vice like grip to ensure they don't get any closer to me with their nasty germs. Sadly none of these precautions was effective and I succumbed to the bug too.
If there is one thing worse than ill children, it is having ill children when you are ill yourself. I long for the days when I could crawl under a duvet and forget the world in a whirl of naps and Trisha until I felt well enough to grace the office with my presence again. Now, unless wonder husband is able to take the day off, I have to drag my sad carcass around after the children trying to take care of them while not collapsing in a soggy, self pitying heap.
The problem is that while I know it is my job and duty to care for them, I just don't want to when I feel rotten. I want to be LEFT ALONE. But my children simply do not understand this concept. The sight of my comatose body elicits an irresistible urge to jump on it and ask "Mummy are you poorly?" at the top of their not insubstantial voices.
Most of the time I pride myself on coping relatively well with having four boys. After all I am still here, and as yet have not been certified, which surely deserves a medal. But when I am ill it all goes out of the window and I don my official bad mother sash. I scream and shout, slope off to try to avoid them and generally fail in my maternal duties.
Luckily I have a very understanding son. Yesterday as I was attempting to juggle all four of them in the park to give my long suffering husband a well deserved break a stranger came up to me and after marvelling at my bad luck in ending up in charge of four small boys commended me on what a good job I was doing with them.
Lovely to have a compliment, but I wondered, how in the hell would she know? I could be beating them and locking them in cupboards for all she knew after a chance meeting in the park. When I said this out loud (not the bit about beating and cupboards) my son said. "But mummy you are doing a good job". "Aww, thank you, but I would like to be a bit nicer and shout less," I replied.
Quick as a flash he returned "You are nice and you need to shout at us. Sometimes you have to shout because you are angry and you can't help it and other times you have to shout at us to discipline us so we aren't so naughty." Perhaps I can take off the bad mother sash after all.
Though I will admit that his little brother didn't look convinced by this explanation and instead pondered the question of whether I was a good mum for quite some time before admitting that he supposed I was good enough.