Taking care of sick kids sucks. It’s crappy on two levels. One, it’s awful to watch your kid suffer. Two, you know the cold is coming for you next. With twins, it seems to always start with one. One morning one twin will wake up with a face full of boogers. Or right before bed, will be suddenly hot with a fever. We’ve found there’s usually a good 24 hours before the other twin has it, but they always get it. It’s never an isolated case. And then, usually, it moves on to the parents.

This week, I’ve been knocked back hard by some sort of awful scourge. I’ve been having those fever dreams and a sore throat to the point I can’t eat. But for some reason, like an idiot, I thought I just had a version of what the kids had the week previous–a mild cold–and continued about my life as if I would just turn a corner on the third day. Well, I did not. And maybe it’s the flu and maybe it’s strep, (no one is sure) but what is for sure is that I’m down for at least the rest of this week. And now I’m starting to worry the pass-along game will travel in the other direction.

I should say that I’m worrying about that because watching the kids suffer through strep or the flu will be awful. It will be. And I don’t want to do that. But really, it will also be another stretch of nights with interrupted sleep, and more days at home when I should be at work, and a period of time sitting in a busy doctor’s office waiting room with two uncomfortable and irritable toddlers.

But it’s not about me. It’s about them. And one of the hardest parts of this week has been trying to keep my distance from them to keep my germs away. Recently I’ve been kissing them on the cheeks a lot. They have learned the word “kiss” and make a kiss sound but don’t seem to get what else goes along with it. So I say “Mama’s kissing you!” and then I kiss them on the cheek and say, “Will you kiss mama?” and pat my own cheek. So far, I’ve received one kiss. Well, I gave up that practice this week. I haven’t read any bedtime stories, because I’m so exhausted by that time. I’ve barely been able to carry them up the stairs (because lugging 30 pounds up a flight of stairs while dizzy isn’t recommended) and forget daycare drop-offs and pick-ups. I shouldn’t be around so many little vulnerable souls.

It’s kind of like transforming your natural self into a distant parent, one that doesn’t tickle and snuggle and breathe closely into the cheeks of their baby as they’re wet out of the tub, and it’s just really no fun at all. I miss them while they’re right next to me.

So today, I rest, and I rest hard, trying to prioritize myself for a change, above the kids, above my job, so that I can be back in action soon. Back to being busy trying to beg kisses and ticking two tummies with two hands, chopping up my seven thousandth sweet potato to roast, and desperately trying to impart the knowledge that a toothbrush is for cleaning and not for chewing.