Traveling with kids is awesome, eye opening, and a daily adventure. It’s also completely chaotic at times, it can be unpredictable, and, what happens when the only adult in the room gets sick?
We are fortunate to have the loving support of my husband. Unfortunately, his loving support is often sent through Skype or FaceTime or text messages. Mackenzie and I do a fair amount of our world travel as a duo, with the hubby/ daddy fulfilling other responsibilities at home. And so I find myself as the only adult, in a foreign land, more often than not.
This girls-only travel has taught us resilience, the power of determination, and just how thankful we are when we do have daddy around to kill the big, bad bugs for us. As a trio, Mackenzie and I are pretty girly girls. Alone, we find creative ways to manage and conquer. That is, until illness happens. Because, what happens when this mom gets sick, is that everything stops. Food? Hope you like take out. Laundry? Wearing the same pajamas three days in a row won’t hurt anything right? Homeschool? Minecraft building counts, I hope. Gymnastics? Tumble in the living room kiddo, mommy can’t even get out of bed!
Illness happens at home and it will happen on the road.
Two years ago the kiddo had a high fever in Paris. She spent two wonderful days walking around the city, and eight more lying in bed. As the adult, I found a pharmacy, medicines, and some good made-up stories to pass the time. We cuddled and looked at the Eiffel Tower through our hotel window. Paris would have to wait. And everyone was amazing. The hotel staff catered to our needs and the pharmacy got to see my not-so-awesome charades abilities. Luckily they saw a mom desperate to help her child feel better and they eventually understood all that I needed.
Last year, however, it was me, the mom, who caught a nasty stomach bug in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was in pain, I was annoyed, but mostly I was worried about my kid. As the only adult she was traveling with, I was the sole provider. If mommy couldn’t make it outside to find breakfast, neither could she. The evening was pretty bad, but as dawn approached I worried more for her than for me. I messaged the hubby about how much we missed him. It was utter chaos in my mind. But, as the sun rose and my kid woke up, the chaos in my head was replaced by the reality of her.
It turns out, my fears were unfounded. Mackenzie was patient, caring, and sad for her mommy. She tried to make me comfortable and care for me. She did schoolwork, read her book, and, yes, played electronics. She found a granola bar and a bottle of water and entertained herself. I spent most of the morning in the bathroom, venturing out only to apologize to my kid. And, eventually, to run outside and get her some real food.
But, in a country where we didn’t speak the language and knew no one, a feared illness turned into a reminder of how amazing this world and its people can be. Sokpee, our temple guide the previous day, checked in on us after I sent a request for medicine. He took us to the pharmacy and explained the symptoms and problems to the clerk. And then he drove us to get some food and back to the hotel- all at no charge. When a local gecko made its way into our room, the staff came upstairs to help me escort the visitor back outside (he was very much not welcomed). Everyone seemed to know that I felt horrible, and they all did something to help me along the way.
And this past week, after securing tickets to The Broad museum in Los Angeles and planning a fun week for the kiddo, I came down with The Bug- a horrible cold. I spent all week cooped up inside, hugging my various cold medications and feeling horrible. But my kid, ever the trooper, was wonderful. Again. She read and watched TV and entertained herself as I napped and sneezed and felt like death roller over. The chaos born from boredom I feared was really just the quiet buzz of the TV or the iPod. We never made it to anything outside the bedroom.
Illness happens and its never fun. But its especially annoying when it tried to put an end to carefully crafted travel plans. Sometimes you can man up and pull through. Sometimes you pay the pizza delivery guy and let your child watch TV while you nap, again. There is no way of avoiding it in the long run. But, if you’re lucky, you won’t let the fear of it keep you from traveling and exploring our world. If you’re really lucky, your head will dread chaos and your kids will reward you with compassion. The Bug that is my horrible cold is slowly fading away… slowly. Mackenzie has been incredibly patient as I nurse this cold, so we decided to stick it to The Bug and buy some plane tickets. Guess where we’re taking her!