Single With A Sick Kid


During a recent email exchange with a reader, she mentioned something I know too well: what it’s like to parent alone when your child is ill.

Dealing with a sick child can be unpleasant even for a couple.  From the smallest colds to the hard falls from 6-foot high tree limbs; when our children hurt, we hurt.  Just the other day Logan had a pain in her belly that she couldn’t accurately express with her words.  The face she made, the way her little hands grabbed her belly, her cracking toddler voice – it all made my heart ache.  I wanted to hug her and hope that somehow all her pain would transfer to my body, and she’d stand erect and smile and say, “Oh.  I feel budduh now.”  And although that was a small moment and she was quickly back to herself (good thing?), it would have been nice if I’d been able to turn to someone and say, “What do you think is wrong with her?  What do you think she ate?  Let’s go sit down with her and read her a book.”  And then afterward, to have been able to laugh and say, “She is so dramatic, right?  I love that goof.”

When Ryleigh was about 2 and I was still married, she had pneumonia.  I woke up in the middle of the night to check on her and she had a temperature of 105.  I shook her dad and we drove her to the ER, where she was admitted while they tried to bring her fever down.  This was my first and only baby.  I was petrified.  I know it’s silly but seeing her in a hospital bed reminded me of some war-torn country; I’d never imagined my own child would be so sick she’d need to be hospitalized, even for something not-so-life threatening.  I didn’t really think about it at the time but I was so grateful to have her dad there.  He is WAY less dramatic than I am, and seeing how calm he was kept me calm.  And it was comforting to speak to the doctor with someone standing by my side, and to know that someone else was equally as worried for Ryleigh.

Now, not so much.  When my girls are sick of course I tell their dads but it’s not the same as having them here, not even close.  Especially now that I don’t rely on OTC meds and don’t run to the doc for every sniffle, it can be distressing.  I have my girls rest and hydrate when they’re ill, and that seems to cure any problem – except the loneliness I feel when they are sick.  It gets scary to know they are looking to me for all the answers.  It’s nerve-wrecking to try and find the right foods to feed them when they don’t feel well, and then dealing with the guilt of having made the wrong decision when they vomit.  It’s stressful to sit up in the dark at 4am, leaning my head against the headboard, stroking the shoulder of my feverish toddler.  And that’s not to mention that I still have my regular duties and another child, even when one is sick.  And that’s not to mention that sometimes we’re all sick – and I still have to take care of them.

I wouldn’t trade with anyone for the world.  I am on this journey and I have no choice but to learn and grow stronger from it.  Most of the time I don’t think about this stuff, especially not in the moment.  I’m just doing what I have to do, what’s expected of me, and what I know is my responsibility.  I don’t expect a certificate or a cookie (but I like oatmeal raisin if you wanna give me one or seven), because these are my children.  I do look forward though, to the day when I can once again turn to someone and say, “This time you’re wiping the poop off the couch.  I just got the vomit in the kitchen.”

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Categories: Single Motherhood


I'm Kimberley, work-at-home single momma to two girls, Ryleigh, 9, and Logan, 3. The Single Crunch is the story of our journey from a lifestyle saturated in mainstream ideals to an organic existence, and learning to love each other, ourselves, and any living thing, unconditionally. I'm passionate about breastfeeding, unschooling, single parenting, writing, grief, childhood abuse, childism, and natural living. I write about all this and whatever else moves me, which is a lot, and I throw in some funny on the regular. I'm humbled and grateful to have you reading, thank you. I hope something here will help you in any way.

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6 Comments on “Single With A Sick Kid”

  1. Megan
    June 6, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    AMEN. And I love how you say you don’t want a certificate or cookie, bc I feel the SAME way. Every time I vent or even say something positive about raising my son alone, I get ppl who respond with, “Oh, you’re the best Mommy!” While this is nice to hear, it wasn’t what I was going for. I share my struggles and triumphs bc everyone needs to be able to, but I don’t think I am the best mom, ever (not even close!!) or that I deserve special recognition. I am doing what any good mom out there is and should be doing. that’s nothing special, that’s my JOB. And I love every second of it-even those hard seconds that make me question my ability, and, let’s face it, my sanity. I think, in part, all of us are single moms. Even if you have the most supportive and hands on partner, I think every mom feels like, when it comes down to it, that they are the “main” parent. And this is NO slight on the partner, but just biology. We carried that baby, it was real to us from the second we knew of conception. I’ll stop rambling now, I just wanted to say I’m right there with you!

    • June 6, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      Megan that’s just what I meant! I didn’t share this piece so that people would say, “Oh wow, you’re great”. I shared because I think there are LOTS of moms who feel the same way and don’t often get to discuss it, and it’s nice to let it out sometimes. Thanks for your response. – Kimber

      • June 16, 2012 at 1:12 am #

        I literally just thought of this today and came home to find this! I was wondering, what do single parents do when *they* are sick? That must be so hard. This is why community is important. A Living Family….
        Thank you for sharing this important piece of experience. I make (what I think are) killer oatmeal cookies — raisins, hemp seeds, toasted coconut, honey … super yum. I would totally make you some. :)

    • June 16, 2012 at 1:09 am #

      Megan, your wisdom, insight, compassion and strength come through in this comment. Ramble on, mama! Got a blog? ;)

      I *have* felt frustrated that even though I have a partner there is no 50/50 in the house. I should say that Equally Shared Parenting is something we are working hard on doing. It is complex and not normal for this society. I am guessing there are many mamas crying themselves to sleep feeling alone with someone sleeping next to them. My main point is that *I* have felt alone, and having you (a single mother) say that felt healing for me. Thank you.

  2. June 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I remember after one of the hardest times in my life, when I was finally getting back on my feet and my three children and I had just moved into a new house, in a new city, we all fell ill with a horrible stomach flu. My youngest was only five months old at the time, and I remember feeling so desperately that I wished I had someone to take care of me. My children needed me to take care of them though, so I made homemade electrolytes, and we all cuddled in the same bed, while I nursed the youngest and changed sheets all night. I felt so alone, but I never, for a second, wished I wasn’t there to care for my kids, and I never, for a second, hesitated to do what my children needed. I have recently discovered this blog, so I hope you don’t mind me going back and commenting on old posts, but since I’ve been a single mom for most of 12 years, I relate to and appreciate so much of what you write, especially the parts about discovering attachment parenting halfway through your parenting journey. We are always learning and growing in this life, and instead of feeling guilty for the past, I feel proud of my growth as a parent. Thank you for being so bold in the subjects you write about, and for giving so many single parents hope and encouragement.

    • July 3, 2012 at 10:37 am #

      Thank you, Rheanna! I so appreciate the readers and comments here, it feels great to know there are others with similar situations and experiences. I, too had the stomach flu once when Ryleigh did, and I was pregnant at the time. I felt the same…I never wish I didn’t have to do this. I am glad you can relate, thank you so much for your comment. – Kimber

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