Intro: Hi readers, I haven`t blogged for a while due to having precious little time with the kids at home and then an incident involving a two year old, a water bottle and my laptop which put me out of action for a while. Fortunateley my computer is now back from the repair shop and the kids are due to start school any day so time to get back to it again. I would like to share this with you, written a few weeks ago on a hot,humid night when sleep was alluding me and my mind started to work overtime!
I didn’t sleep last night, not even one moment of shut eye. Why? Because my six-year-old daughter had a coughing fit the evening before whilst I was on the phone to my Mum.
“Is that Ruby? She said sounding alarmed” Is she doing that a lot? You need to keep an eye on her!”
” She` s fine, its only now and again, I think its catarrh” I said defensively.
“I don`t feel well “Ruby said, when I hung up.
This is a fairly normal night time complaint from my daughter, a night owl who will use any trick in the book to delay going upstairs. I took her temperature, normal, but she looked a little pasty so I gave her Calpol, read a story and tucked her in for the night: but the seeds of doubt had been sown.
I was so exhausted by the time I climbed in my own bed where two-year-old Charlie was soundly asleep that I thought I would soon join him. Being a single parent of two lively, rambunctious children during lockdown is exhausting, there is no one to babysit for an afternoon whilst I try to put the house in order or grab a nap when I`m struggling to keep my eyes open;I`m on duty from dawn to dusk, the sole responsible adult of the house and the thought of getting ill terrifies me. Who will look after the kids if not me?But despite my crushing tiredness as I lay in bed watching crane flies flit about on the ceiling sleep was alluding me. I felt jittery and hot and those words of my Mums “you need to keep an eye on her” had burrowed into my brain.
I turned to Charlie, his breath gently rising and falling, full lips parted slightly as if blowing a kiss and lay my hand on his forehead, it was reassuringly cool; But the bedroom was stuffy, a suffocating heat, I opened the windows and then tried to read my book but my eyes slid over the print.
Instead, like a lawyer preparing a case, I had begun a mental list of possible Covid symptoms Ruby may have had.
A bad stomach and slightly high temperature a few days ago which I’d assumed was a tummy bug but maybe not? And hadn`t she complained of a strange head ache, what day had that been? and some ear ache too? Weren’t these all symptoms I`d read about? And what about the cough? Was it new or existing? and was it frequent enough to be classed as persistent? But when had it started…
I struggled to cast my mind back, trying to label each ailment by day of the week but since lock down my perception of time had melted like a block of butter in a sauce pan. Normally I could have said the head ache was on Wednesday because that`s when she has swimming but I realised I no longer knew whether something happened two or five days ago.
My thoughts were interrupted as something brushed against my face, I swiped it away and clicked the light on. The crane fly lay like a scrap of black lace on the white bed sheet, its long legs folded, filigree wings stilled. I felt guilty and offered it up to the still night, its final flight a downwards spiral. Was it really hot outside I wondered or was it me, Was I feverish? Did I have the virus? Down to the kitchen I went, popping my head round Ruby`s door on the way, she was fast asleep.
I fumbled around in the medicine cupboard for the thermometer and stuck it in my mouth waiting anxiously for the bleep, the display showed 36.But why did the blood coursing through my veins feel like molten lava? Was it a false reading? My throat was slightly sore, I drank a large glass of water to sooth it and worried it was the the start of something. Returning upstairs I went into check on Ruby again;As I stood in that messy little bedroom which looked like a Barbie doll massacre I was overcome with love as I gazed at my moon-faced first-born child. In the darkness her features were as silvery and serene as a sleeping Buddha. In her woken state she is gregarious, funny,kind but sometimes infuriatingly contrary; a trait which began in the womb when she refused the doctors efforts to turn her from the breech position prompting a rushed caesarean three weeks early and a missed restaurant booking for my birthday meal.
Since lockdown we`d clashed almost every day as I struggled to home school her which Ruby said wasn`t fun with me; But now in my sleep deprived state, half convinced she had Covid and with nightmarish visions of hospital beds and breath masks running through my mind I regretted every instance we`d argued.
I made a deal with the universe there and then; just let my little girl be alright I pleaded, and tomorrow, I promise, we won’t do any school work, we`ll just have a day doing whatever we want and enjoy being together.
Kissing her cheek I returned to bed where I stared at the ceiling waiting for my eye lids to close.I tried to count my breathing, if I was relaxed enough surely I would drop off but it wasn’t to be; So I picked my book up and put it down again, listened to three pod casts in a row but by four O`clock I abandoned all hope of drifting off.
I headed down stairs,opened the windows and feeling surprisingly energised began to clean the house to the sound track of the dawn chorus.As I worked away disinfecting door handles and wiping the surfaces my anxiety began to subside as I listened to the birdsong building to a crescendo outside. As the sky paled from Navy to pink to peach and then pale hazy blue, I began to feel hopeful that whatever happened I could cope, that we would pull through it.
Later that morning I called the 111 Corona Virus line, Ruby had not continued to cough much when she came down for breakfast but after the fear that had gripped me in the night I wanted to be reassured. “it sounds like a clearing her throat sort of cough “said the nurse after she had evaluated Ruby`s symptoms and overheard her coughing in the background.
“A clearing her throat sort of cough thankyou thank you,” I whispered silently as she confirmed that my initial instincts had been right after all.
And as for the bedside promise I`d made I was true to my word.We didn`t open school books once that day, or read or battle through the fives times table; Instead we built dens in the garden with chairs and blankets, dug for worms and hunted for snails and whilst Charlie took his afternoon nap in the buggy we lolled about on the lawn in the hot sunshine.
As I listened to my daughter giggling and shrieking as our puppy nibbled the ends of her hair I lay back and gazed into the endless blue sky. This is what matters in life I thought, hot spring afternoons, laughter, love, togetherness and learning that sometimes it`s fine to just do nothing.
Stay safe until next time
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