Cold germs are my kryptonite

Before I had children, I prided myself on my iron-clad immune system. For nearly two decades, I enjoyed years with only one, maybe two colds, looking on with disdain at my sneezing, sniveling friends and co-workers. “Foolish mortals!” I would proclaim as they reached for their hundredth Kleenex of the day. “Why must you be so weak? Surely you are unclean, to be so sick so often!” And then I would usually laugh a maniacal laugh as I savored the joy of breathing through my nose.

But then I had kids.

Foolishly, I thought my track record of health would protect me. Surely I wouldn’t fall prey to Addie’s runny nose, or Rosie’s raging case of pinkeye. I had done my time in the trenches of ear infections and barking coughs in my youth! But apparently, today’s illnesses are different, stronger, more wily. Or maybe it’s just that my kids have a penchant for sneezing directly into my open mouth, but whatever the reason, I am powerless against their germy wiles.

When Addie was a toddler, she once had a cold that lasted from August until April. Rosie has been a little more hardy than that, but even she tends to have a permanent dried snot mustache most of the time. As for me, I have a low-level cold about 70% of the time, which I mostly manage to keep under control with Airborne and coffee.

It does come with a handy side effect, though– I have grown so used to having a cold that when it finally abates, I feel like a god-damned superhero. When your baseline is a foggy head and achy muscles, the dissipation of a cold means you can smell colors and lift cars off babies (maybe, I’m assuming, I have yet to have the chance to try, but it seems like it would definitely be a thing). I’m in the midst of a cold right now, but I’m expecting to come out of this one with the ability to fly.

Which might come in handy, because once you get to 10,000 feet, there’s no one around to sneeze into your mouth.

A pox on our house

Though it originally seemed like we were going to be spared (T-SHIRTS ON CHRISTMAS EVE, IT’S THE END TIMES!), winter is finally upon us, which at my house means a season of death, pestilence, and sweater sleeves stiff with hardened snot. Usually my sleeves, because not only can my children not locate and properly deploy a tissue, they can’t even manage to wipe their faces on their own sleeves.

Before our children were born, my husband and I were of particularly robust health—I watched as coworkers were felled by colds and stomach viruses and felt nothing but disdain for their puny immune systems. FOOLISH MORTALS! I would think smugly. HOW SAD FOR YOU, THAT YOU ARE NOT AS HALE AND HEARTY AS I! WEEP GUMMY, COLD-INDUCED TEARS AS YOU WATCH ME MAINTAIN A NORMAL BODY TEMPERATURE AND SKIN TONE AND GO ON WITH MY LIFE WHILE YOU SUFFER!

But then the children were born.

In the five years since I had my first daughter, our house has been home to pinkeye, strep throat, approximately 50 ear infections, 10 bouts of stomach flu, one long cold that has lasted since August 2010, and something called Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which really sounds more like something that would afflict a farm animal. My husband and I have been on the roster for nearly every one of those illnesses (thankfully, we were spared the Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, because I honestly don’t think I could ever show my face at work again if that happened— I assume I wouldn’t be welcomed back, anyway, as my coworkers would have erected a plastic tent around my office and worn haz mat suits to interact with me).

But even when the adults are well, the kids maintain a low level of sickness that pervades everything, flaring up at moments when you least expect it. My younger daughter has a double ear infection right now, and her older sister is sprouting her six year molars, which apparently is more painful than childbirth, given the way she was crying about it last night. There is also, according to her, something wrong with her butt, which I don’t even have the heart to investigate right now, because that can never end well.

So tonight I can look forward to an evening of a cling-on baby and a drooling, literally butt-hurt five year old. There will be the force feeding of medicine, many irrational demands (when Addie is sick, she has more requirements than a rock star’s rider agreement), a few hours of Mutt and Stuff, and an angry, snot-clotted descent into sleep. But there will also be many snuggles, which are getting rarer and rarer as my kids grow up, so I have to take them wherever I can.

Even if it’s in a haz mat suit.