How the Flu Made Me a Better Mom

How the Flu Made Me a Better Mom

Flu season tried to take this mom down, but it ended up perfecting her parenting skills.

By Kelly Bryant

Admittedly, I’m what one might call a control freak. It’s not entirely my fault. I was raised under the guidance that if you want something done right, do it yourself. Frankly, that theory worked pretty well for me throughout the years. Although I did feel pangs of mommy guilt when my oldest son was a toddler and would yell, “Self! Self!” whenever my husband and I tried to help him with any task. The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree!

So there I was, rolling along and doing it my way until last month something stopped me in my tracks: the flu. And, boy, did it take me down hard. It’s not like I haven’t been sick before, but this was the worst I had ever felt during my tenure as the mom of two boys. (They are now 5 and 2 years old.) To make matters worse, my husband was scheduled to go out of town that weekend.

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There was just one thing to do -- pack up the kids and head an hour south to visit my in-laws, who very kindly embraced taking care of my kiddos while I quarantined myself in a dark guest room, convinced I would never recover from this modern-day plague.

Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful for the help from my in-laws, but that first day giving up the reins with the kids was stressful. What if my youngest threw a temper tantrum about putting on his shoes? What if they forgot to bring diapers and wipes on their playground excursion? What if the kids just whined about wanting to be with me? (After all, I’m pretty awesome!) What if there was no conceivable way the children would actually go to sleep for Grandma and Grandpa at bedtime?

These were the questions I asked myself all day while intermittently napping and binge-watching a TV show I had wanted to check out for years. And it wasn’t really until I got to the end of the series’ first season that I realized,No one has tried to knock down my bedroom door. No one has yelled for me, asking for apple juice or snacks. Maybe, just maybe, someone else has got this!

And they did.

For the next three days, I took care of myself for a change while my in-laws quietly kept my kids healthy, fed, entertained, and loved. It felt good to give up the responsibility for a few days -- even if, at first, I was a guilt-ridden wreck about it.


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I realize now that while, yes, of course my family needs me, there are other capable hands out there who may not do things my way, but still achieve the same result -- happy kids.

In the end, that’s a whole lot more important than always having to be right.

How has being sidelined with a cold or the flu helped shape your outlook on parenting?

Kelly Bryant is a freelance writer and pop culture junkie. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons.

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