Home today with a sick child. He’s got a nasty cold with a deep cough. He has asthma, so any time he starts in with the coughing I become the over-protective Mom, listening for every rattle of his breath, checking on him constantly, worrying endlessly. I’m not that Mom usually. But having dealt with his father having to go to the hospital to deal with an asthma attack more than once, there’s a bit of a precedence there.
It annoys the shit out of him.
I’ll try to keep myself in check.
Though last night was funny. As noted, I had a couple white russians (the drink, not the humans) before bed. I had given the BoyChild Nyquil to ease the cough and help him sleep. Cough, cough cough, every few seconds from his room. Then, suddenly, silence. Complete, utter SILENCE. I look over at Ad.
“He’s too quiet,” I say. “Go check on him?”
“He’s fine,” Ad says. “Let him sleep.”
“No really,” I say, “What if he’s not? What if…?”
“Jade, he’s fine.” He gives me the squinty eye. “If you’re worried, go check on him.”
But I am already shaking my head. And he knows why.
We have this turtle. A Russian Tortoise, to be exact. An heirloom tortoise, I call him, because he will outlive us all and have to be passed down generation by generation in our wills. He lives in an aquarium in my daughter’s bedroom. We also used to have a snake and a lizard. I like reptiles. I loved our ball python, Slither, and Flower the Lizard used to hang out on my shoulder all day while I worked, and tap on the glass of his cage whenever I walked into the room. I know, reptiles aren’t supposed to be loving pets, but…well, I grew attached to them, and I think they loved me right back.
Then…a horrible thing happened. Slither died. In a horrible, tragic accident that I still can’t think about without my stomach turning and feeling the beginnings of a panic attack. And, even though I wasn’t there when it happened, I still blame myself. I was a BAD SNAKE MOTHER. A bad pet owner. It was all my fault, and the thought of him going through the horror that he did…gah.
Shortly thereafter I began to have anxiety about Flower’s well-being. Every time I thought about him I’d start to get that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. I stopped going in to see him, and let the kids and my ex deal with him. If I didn’t think about him, he wouldn’t die too. Then, the ex and I split up, and I got custody of Flower. I had to take care of him when the kids were at their Dad’s…and it was more anxiety-producing than one little lizard should be. I finally had to give him to a new home. Buddy, the tortoise, and the replacement snake that the ex got the BoyChild, was living with the ex at this time. But when I moved in with A, the ex insisted I take the tortoise.
Poor, beleaguered Ad. The tortoise actually takes very little “care.” But it has mostly fallen to Ad when the GirlChild is not here, because I am terrified, every time I go in to check on him, that he will be dead. Seriously, phobically terrified. Because he is so quiet, and lots of times he just…lays there. Sleeping, as turtles do. And every time I see him that way I am sure that he is…dead. And it would be all my fault, because I am a BAD TURTLE MOM. It’s horrible.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Luckily, Ad is very accommodating, even when I am being ridiculous. He went in first to check on the BoyChild. I stood behind him, looking over his shoulder.
“He’s breathing,” he says to me. And I breathe a sigh of relief. I am apparently not as bad a KID MOM as I am a reptile Mom.