beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

My children are Not Very sick, and I have THINGS to do.

Four-fifths of my children are home sick today.

They’re not very sick. They’re just sort of sick, living in that strange place between being really sick and perfectly healthy.

I bet you know the place. Don’t you?

It’s that place in the school handbook that reads, “Please keep your children at home for at least 24 hours after symptoms of fever, vomiting and/or diarrhea subside.”

It’s that place where your children behave like wee little monsters who’ve tossed back a cocktail of caffeine, adrenaline, and the highest of high fructose corn syrups but who remain imprisoned in the confines of your rapidly shrinking house, a bit wild-eyed, a little jittery and a lot stir-crazy, just like their mama.

It’s that place where good mamas everywhere ration bland food and dispense unlimited television, hoping fervently to quell the impending riot and praying for the quarantine to end.

It’s that place where I am living right now.

Our house is upended.

Right this very minute, in fact, the toilet paper is unfurled like one giant, celebratory streamer that winds its way from the bathroom, through the kitchen, over the table, and ends in the living room where it’s alternately woven in intricate patterns throughout the furniture and piled in giant, mountainous heaps.

(I need to find the culprit who did this so I can congratulate him or her on managing that feat without a single break in the paper. Our T.P. is the cheap stuff, y’all – more like translucent, brittle tree bark – so the not-ripping of it is quite the accomplishment.)

I stand in our kitchen, surveying random scenes of Gatorade and saltine crackers,

and the ramen noodles which are slowly making good their escape, 

and I kindly suggest to my not very sick kids that perhaps we can all work together to clean up.

The children don’t respond.

I try again, emphasizing that we all might do just a smidgen.

Three of them ignore me entirely. I can’t blame them. My suggestion lacks conviction and is devoid of urgency. I’m trying to care about the mess because I feel like Caring About The Mess is something I should do. But, well, I’m not very good at the shoulds, now, am I?

The fourth kid, though, turns to me with a bright smile which warms my heart and makes me feel heard, even though not even I care about what I’m saying.

“Hey!” he responds with enthusiasm, “Smidgen rhymes with pigeon!”

Which is exactly how I feel about cleaning. It’s like he took the words right out of my mouth!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the current state of my house.

The End


P.S. I had things to do today.

Important things.

There’s a whole list of things, you guys.

Kid things, wife things, tomorrow’s my mom’s birthday things, blog things.

THINGS, you know?

But you know what? After a week with on-again, off-again sickees in the house, I’m operating on little sleep, less energy, and generous side dish of nausea. So I think today I’ll practice a touch of forgiveness and give myself a break.

If you’re with me… if today you didn’t do all of your things… feel free to give me a report in the comments section below. I’ve got a funny little feeling that I’m not alone, and being Not Alone is one of the very best things I know.




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20 responses to “My children are Not Very sick, and I have THINGS to do.”

  1. I love the comment above about choosing not to feel guilty. We moms have enough to do and worry about without beating ourselves up about our to do lists that never get done. Yesterday was a particularly trying day for me, but mostly because we had seven (that’s 7, in case you were wondering) kids at our home all day. It was so memorable that I even wrote about it. But we made it through without toilet paper getting woven through the furniture, thankfully! Here’s to making it through another day!

  2. In one of your comments you said, “… I am crafting a novel…”. I would LOVE to read a whole novel written by you! I’m guessing with 5 kids, this blog is the most I can get for now. But seriously, I’ll be the first in line to buy it if you ever squeeze in time to write a book. 🙂

  3. I just found you via a random internet search, and I think I might love you. The other day I was lamenting the fact that all the other “Mom Bloggers” have it SO together, and I barely remember what “together” is. Honestly, I’m not even sure I’ve MET “together”. And then I found your blog, and well, now I’m feeling pretty normal, actually. Every day is a day I don’t get stuff done (my laundry is breeding, I’m sure of it) – today I’m already 3 hours behind and it’s only noon. But after finding you, and nosing around your blog, I’m going to choose not to feel guilty. Thanks for that. 🙂


    • Aw, Nita! This is such a nice comment – and very true to my secret mission (which isn’t so secret) to tell the truth and normalize the mom experience. Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself. WELCOME!

  4. We had a BBQ had our house this past weekend, which forced a serious house-cleaning. We have been CRAZY trying to “keep it this way.” I only wish I didn’t care, for real.

  5. Today I have to run a daunting list of errands with 3 kids under school age. Every time I think I get the full list of places complete in my mind and the sequence in which I will stop, another place I need to go pops up.

  6. Unless your Mom’s birthday party is at your house-in which case you’re screwed-I think you’ll be alright. It’ll be a total mess to come home to (like, I don’t know, MINE has been) and it is completely overwhelming, but then you wash the first dish, then the second, then a towel gets folded, and another, and in like a month you have a clean house again! Easy as pie.

    On a side note…how the crap does my house get so destroyed when we haven’t been home but to sleep for several days. I mean, really. Gnomes? Fairies? Meh.

    • “…in which case you’re screwed…”


      Nope. No party at my house. I’m sending my mom to Terri’s (see above) as soon as Terri sends me her address, which I’m certain she’ll do any minute. (Right, Terri?)

      Actually, thanks to my fabulous sister-in-law and my parents who were wisely born within 20 days of each other, we celebrate BirMothFath Day (birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all together) which is a) a hilariously fun event, and b) a real time saver. So I needn’t clean for any reason other than my own sanity. Sanity being a completely unrealistic goal, I’m home free.

      Re: your side note. I’ve been crafting a novel on exactly this subject – oh, how I wish for the time to finish it. You joke about the fairies, but I am telling you – THEY ARE RUINING OUR LIVES.

  7. SOME things got done today. Oh, MAN! I just remembered the cake that didn’t get dumped out of the pan! Anyway, how it turns out right anyway! Someone in the house turns 18 tomorrow…
    But today…today after getting SOME laundry to tremble in fear, this momma had to go get her heart broken again by taking baby #5 to get her first shots and get another lesson about a world that isn’t ALL cuddles and warm milk.
    Yeah, with comforting her (and me) and cleaning up stress induced vomit, there are still things not done….

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