One of the many good things about becoming a parent was the way it helped me understand other parents. More specifically, it made me realise how stressful it is when a child is ill. These days, when a parent brings their child to see me at work, I completely grasp how worried they are; I can comprehend that a seemingly minor ailment or injury can cause untold anxiety for a mother or father. Before having children, I was aware that parents got very concerned about their children, and I tried to be kind and reassuring, but often, the concern seemed vastly out-of-proportion to the problem, and I didn't quite get it. I'm sure that came through in my demeanour.
I have been humbled by having my own kids. The distress I feel when they are sick or hurt engulfs me. I am a complete baby when it comes to my 'babies'. And the less they complain, the worse I feel for them. My daughter Laura has always been such a stoic little thing with illness. She doesn't cry, she lies quietly and doesn't call out. I'll hear a small sound in the night, and find her standing over the toilet, being sick, with no fuss. She is a real trooper.
This weekend, Laura Lou has been unwell. She has vomited 17 or 18 times (I've kind of lost count). She has not shed a tear, despite this. Right now, she is finally asleep for awhile. And here I sit, knowing she will be OK, knowing she just has a particularly nasty gastro bug, but worrying about her and feeling anxious just like any other parent (actually I suspect more fretful than is normal!). I want to fix things so she feels back to normal, straight away. I don't want to go to work tomorrow (even though Fatty - her perfectly capable father - will be home with her) because I know Laura slightly prefers her mother when she is sick. I want a cackling anti-vomit witch to come and make us a magic potion. And while she's here the witch could hang out all the sheets and towels and pyjamas I've had to wash.
So I just want to make it perfectly clear that I do now 'get' parental anxiety. I get it already, I got it with Laura's first cold almost 6 years ago. I don't want to know how much worse it would be if I had a seriously ill child. I am tired of just the regular worries. But I'm a parent, so I'm not allowed to get tired of it. Parents must just endure.
Enduring is only relieved by whining. Thank you for listening.