I first started writing this post in 2014 when my kids were sick. I’m not sure which illness they had at the time, but I was sitting there, watching Frozen for the millionth time, because that’s what my then 1-year-old wanted to watch. Every time we watched it, I felt like I could totally relate to Elsa because she was stuck in this “kingdom of isolation” where she was the queen. But she was lonely—very lonely—and that’s exactly how I felt at the time, too.
I was surrounded by my precious, loving boys—both hacking and feverish. We had heat and food. My husband went back and forth between work and home, was helpful when he was home—but he had his obligations, too.
Fast forward four years and here we are today: one of my kids is sick is recovering from the flu. It’s Christmas break and while I am thrilled the bug waited until now to rear it’s ugly head, I am stuck feeling sorry for myself. We had to miss out on Christmas with my side of the family because my son was still contagious, and the last thing I wanted to give my parents and family members for Christmas was the flu.
On top of the illness, it’s 30-something degrees here in Texas and yes, no matter what you may say, that IS cold. My husband had a car accident and we are down to one car, so there’s no leaving this “kingdom of isolation,” even for a quick trip to Whataburger. So, the boys and I stay indoors and I try to keep them from hurting each other while rough-housing or breaking something with their trick shots inspired by YouTuber Dude Perfect. Containing three active boys is actually a pretty demanding job.
I know: it could always be worse. There are people going through things like this without heat and food, or without a spouse to help out, or a car to drive at all—or even, a house or worse, medical care. I am truly blessed because when I look at the big picture, remembering it absolutely could be much worse. Yes, “this too shall pass,” as much as I absolutely loathe the saying. Even so, it’s a lesson to which we need turn our eyes to find for those who might need a helping hand.
It’s funny, sometimes even asking “how can I help?” or “do you need anything from the store?” has brought so much joy to me when I’m stuck in these situations. That’s a big reason why I hate being sick in the winter: everyone is off doing their own thing with their families and friends and battling illnesses, too. Winter illness is easy to go unnoticed and when it is, people want to keep their distance anyway. This whole experience has taught me to always keep an eye and ear out, wondering if there is a mom or dad that could be helped or at least asked if they need anything. A little goes a long way when you’re dealing with sick children.
When the dawn breaks and everyone is feeling ready to rejoin society, the queen must leave her kingdom of isolation to regain sanity. Moms are often ridiculed for the amount of time they spend in stores like Target. It may seem to an outsider that this rich, spoiled woman is just wasting her life shopping and buying useless stuff she doesn’t need. While that could be true for some, most of the time, this is the only break Mom gets after staying indoors for a week—or more—with sick kids. It’s the only time she can spend by herself in peace, without little (or big) people making demands and asking her to get them things. It’s the only time she can shop without kids clawing at stuff on the shelves, and, if we’re being honest, when she’s buying things, she’s buying them for her family and not for herself. At least that’s true in my case.
Illness stinks and the kingdom of isolation is a pretty lonely place to be, so when it does eventually pass, and yes—this too, shall pass—get a baby-sitter and make that leisurely, and more importantly solo trip to Target, without kiddos or partner in tow. You deserve it, Mama.