The Swine Flu.

I’m willing to bet that just before you clicked this link, you yelled for the kids to get in the car because you thought it was time to head to Wal*Mart for stock piles of bottled water and canned soup again, didn’t you?   If there’s one tool a good writer has in her arsenal, it’s an alluring caption for the rest of the story.  It’s really nothing more than a tricky plot to mislead her readers into thinking one thing but before they realize they’ve been duped, she’s painted a dramatically vivid landscape of lyrical genius and as much as the reader would like to peel their eyeballs away from the monitor, they are unable.  You are also unable to stop reading this so you might as well get comfortable.

I suspect the antibiotics and steroids may have heightened my sense of self-worth these past two weeks.  I fear they may have also caused some long term emotional damage but there’s no way to know until I start having night terrors about being chased down dark alleys by giant angry bottles of Zycam.  And as traumatic as that would indeed be, imagining myself instructing a Zumba class and looking down to see I’m wearing nothing more than Vicks Vaporub and a few strategically placed Kleenex is what really keeps me up at night.

It’s been called the grunge, the scourge, the plague and more commonly, “that really nasty virus going around” but I’m having fun telling people I survived The Swine Flu.  It’s a little inside joke I enjoy sharing with myself as I watch their pupils dilate and they take mental inventory of exactly how much Spam and Pop Tarts are stored in their basement.  I’m thinking of having t-shirts made that say “I Survived The Swine Flu Of Christmas 2011 And All I Have To Show For It Is This Stupid T-Shirt And Some Mildly Compromised Lung Function.”

If ever I took my healthy, vibrant, capable body for granted before, I have since vowed to appreciate every square inch, every bump, lump and hair out of place from this day forward.  I have never felt the need to bargain with such a small, seemingly insignificant creature like a virus before, but I found myself agreeing to unspeakable acts if it would just leave my body.  In hindsight I’m glad that didn’t work out.

I don’t get sick very often; what mother does?  What mother thinks to herself “Wow, wouldn’t it be fantastic to catch a horrific virus that renders me useless?  I could just lie on the couch in a fevered state of half-conscious confusion and chuck a box of tissues across the room whenever I need a fresh cup of peppermint tea or another foot rub.”   Well, I take that back.  It would be quite lovely to lie on the couch and do nothing but boss people around all day, except I already do that without the lying on the couch or throwing things part.  Besides, I find sharp tools and threats of torture to be far more effective than projectiles.

I’m joking.  Gosh.  Every skilled parent knows not even wire cutters or Sally Hansen hot wax strips can strike fear in the hearts of angsty teenagers more than dangling the beloved cell phone over a pot of boiling water, which, I may or may not have done on more than one occasion over the course of this wondrous Christmas vacation.  And I use the word “wondrous” in a literal sense because at several points during the past week, I really “wondered” how the hell I was going survive my virus and their viruses while the thick green fog of bored teenager hovered in every room, stinking up the place.  They bummed around, stayed in their pajamas past lunch time and complained about being bored while crinkling their noses when I suggested all sorts of fun activities like reading books, playing Jax, building snowmen and making friendship bracelets.  And to add insult to injury, I limited their texting and video game time in an effort to encourage creative, independent thinking time.  I don’t know how they’re going to survive until college with a mother like me, the poor dears.  One might have almost felt badly for them, watching as I was too occupied fending off a phlegmy death to even speak,  instead merely throwing tissue boxes in the general direction of their new Christmas toys as gentle suggestions of THINGS TO DO.

They’re good kids, quite lovable and in the right light, almost adorable, but not so skilled at entertaining themselves when Mum is down for the count.  I suppose it’s nice to know they still need me; it’s also nice to know they’re going back to the magical land of public school tomorrow.

So here’s to 2012, beginning with a triumphant victory over microbial contagion and hopefully ending with my teenagers groveling at my feet, showering me with love and praise because I was right about everything all along.

At least the antibiotics are a sure thing so one out of two isn’t so bad.

Renée Chalou

About Renée Chalou

Renée Chalou lives and raises her family in Presque Isle, where she owns a fitness center, LiveWell United. Her oldest son is in his second year at UMO, her daughter plans to attend UMPI in the spring and her youngest son is an active, happy 11 year old in 6th grade. From her life experiences as a homeschooling parent, blending a family, and transforming herself from an overweight, side-line mother to a competitive athlete mother and fitness leader in her community, she writes about what she knows: living life well even when it's not perfect. She writes about finding and clinging to the good even when it would be easy to focus on the bad, no matter what challenges life brings. Life in Northern Maine is wonderful, full of adventures and sub-zero temperatures. It's not for everybody and nobody claims it's easy. But it's a good life, it's hers and she'd like to share some of it with you.