I entered into motherhood at the relatively young age of 20. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of love. The love was for one another of course, but when baby Philip was born, with adoration in our eyes, he became our little prince.
David and I are both the babies of our families and so we really had limited hands-on experience. We both had great role models in our parents, but until we married and began our family we gave little thought to the hows and whys of parenting. We started out making a lot of it up as we went along and added in extreme caution for good measure. I am sure if Philip could have lived in bubble wrap as a baby and still breathed we would have insulated him in it.
One morning, while David was at work, my new wee one and I had visitors. My dad, my sister Diane and my niece Samantha came for a day visit. Philip was only a few months old and my niece was three. We had a lovely morning chatting and playing with the children.
I was in the kitchen making lunch, tuna fish sandwiches and chips. My sister began to murmur that she didn’t feel well. “What do you mean you don’t feel well? Where do you feel bad?” is how I began my inquisition.
“I don’t know, just all over the place. I ache. My throat hurts. Check and see if I feel warm,” she moaned, as she began to feel worse minute by minute. With one quick hand swipe of her forehead, I could tell she was feverish. I began to frantically search for a thermometer. A quick shakedown of the mercury, an alcohol swabbing of the end and my sister found me shoving her mouth open, clenching her jaw shut for the tell-all reading of her fever that raged within.
“103.8, 103.8, your temperature is 103.8!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, I guess so. I really don’t feel good at all,” she wearily stated.
At this point, the sympathy and loving, nursing care she expected and needed did not happen. I stepped back from her with trembling fear as if the bubonic plague had entered my home. I looked at my sweet, tiny, baby boy and had visions of grave illness in his future. “You need to go. You can’t be here. You must leave right now,” I said as I began to gather up her daughter’s belongings.
“Can’t we at least stay for lunch before we leave? I’ m hungry,” my dad asked as he watched with bewilderment as I sprinted for the kitchen.
I returned with their sandwiches and chips on plates, a glass of water and Tylenol. “Here, I packed up your lunch for you. You can’t stay. Get out, but you can take your tuna sandwiches with you,” I responded, at that moment in my life feeling both generous and protective. Quicker than you can say influenza, my company was up, wrapped in their coats, lunch-filled paper plates in hand, looking confused and in shock as their wide eyes watched me usher them out the door and quickly shut it.
My sister was really sick and stayed in bed for days with the flu. Needless to say, over the years, there has been quite a bit of rehashing of my behavior that day, fortunately usually ending in fits of giggles and laughter. This was twenty-five years ago and for at least the first ten years of the story’s retelling, I defended myself by reminding everyone, I at least gave her pain-relieving medication and sent them with lunch.
Who knows what got into me that day? The irrational panic and over-protectiveness of a new momma, I suppose. Eight more children later, I am still cautious. I am one of those who keeps the baby home for eight weeks as much as possible and avoids crowds during the height of cold and flu season. I would like to think though, if the same situation was to occur again, I would at least remember to send them with a drink too. 🙂