For the last two weeks, K, L and I have been suffering from fairly nasty colds, the nasty German variety that start off not so bad and escalate well past the time when the cold should be gone. This culminated in K’s fever yesterday, which fortunately went down in the afternoon so we were able to hold our annual Christmas party. The other moms, most of whom have been home with their kids for some flu or other over the last weeks, looked understandably nonplussed when we explained why K looked a bit glassy-eyed. But it wasn’t as bad as last year, when K contracted some weird Chicken Pox lookalike virus and all the pregnant women edged away from us. Or a couple of years ago when we invited all our colleagues round for Christmas coffee and poor L contracted virulent pink eye the day of. That was a memorable Christmas party – I spent most of it handing round antibiotic most towels and wiping L’s eye gunk with a wet tissue.
So as Christmas parties thrown by us go, yesterday wasn’t too bad. K was a bit quiet and peaky at the beginning then later she perked up and ran off to play.
Through all of this, Ralf has been strangely cold resilient, although he has gotten to enjoy our colds vicariously as we cough all night in stereo. So imagine my dismay when I woke up unable to stop coughing and he woke up with the flu – which, of course, trumps the common cold, even a bad one.
On an average day I consider my fate to be rather hard during German winter. I am not at harmony with nature and consider the cold weather to be my natural enemy. The kids have to be at school by 8:30 so it’s pitch dark when we wake up, and it seems to take forever to get lunches packed, everyone fed and suited up, ice scraped off the car, etc. I fantasize about the ease of life in warmer climates where you throw on a t-shirt and you’re good.
Anyway, most days I focus on getting kids dressed and fed and Ralf drives them to school but today I was on my own. This means that I had to get dressed, too, and the social conventions that dictate how ratty you can look when you leave the house are a bit stricter here than in my native Los Angeles, where you can either look crappy or faboo and still fit in. Coughing all the while.
So, enough whining about my life, which is actually blessed as long as my kids are healthy (sort of) and happy and we can afford to feed them. The point I want to make is that there are single moms who do this on their own every day. Mind you, most of the ones I know live in California where the warm weather makes a few things easier. But it’s still very demanding to do everything for kids without help every day. On days when I find myself completely on my own my thoughts go out to these remarkable women.
Epilogue to this short story: As it happens, we all ended up staying at home after getting all suited up. I had a vision of dragging my coughing kids into the Kindergarten, violently coughing myself, as seen through the eyes of the other mothers and had an attack of conscience. OK, let's be honests, it wasn't really conscience, since their kids probably made my kids sick in the first place - more like self-conscience.