Sick kid day & the pursuit of unhappiness
I’m home today with a sick little boy. I knew it was no ordinary middle-of-the-night awakening when the panting started. Brief groans and cries = normal. Panting signaled fever. Unfortunately, I was right.
So I scrapped my long list of Things to Accomplish At Work Today and made a doctor’s appointment. Usually, I’d ride it out a bit, but Roy hasn’t been quite himself for a couple of days, so I figured we might as well get in and see if something out of the ordinary was going on. The morning’s fussiness and neediness turned to lethargy and then further degenerated into all-out bawling. He was inconsolable for the half hour leading to the appointment, in the waiting room and during the entire exam. It was easily the longest stretch of time that Roy has cried in all of his 16 months.
His fever was over 104. The doctor suspects strep. So now he’s loaded with Tylenol and antibiotics and sleeping fitfully. But sleeping.
It brings to mind an article my friend Frank wrote for The Rotarian recently called The Pursuit of Unhappiness. “In viewing unhappiness as a problem to be solved, might we not miss what a little sadness has to offer us?” he muses. Then he brings up those stories and studies we all read about that tell us that parents are not as happy as non-parents.
Having two young children myself, I can more or less confirm this is true. And yet, despite all the headaches, sleep deprivation, stained furniture, and general crabbiness, few parents I know regret their decision. One study even found that mothers ages 36 to 44 were less likely to be depressed than their childless peers, even if, at a given point on a given day, they may be less happy. Raising kids isn’t nonstop fun. But eventually (we hope) we’ll be better for it.
Today has been pretty much the opposite of nonstop fun. Still, days like today are part of the deal, and Frank is right: I wouldn’t trade that deal for the world.
I’ll accomplish things tomorrow. Today, I just want my little boy to feel better.
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