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Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A mom's job has benefits; sick leave isn't one of them

I was exiting the restroom at Alderwood Mall the other day when I came across another mother, waiting for her son to come out of the men's room. She asked him if he had washed his hands.

"Mom," said the boy, clearly annoyed. "If I washed my hands every time I touched my penis I'd be washing my hands all day."

Let that be a reminder to all of us. Germs are everywhere.

That's concerning because this is cold and flu season. It's also the time of year when families are busy. One snotty nose or lingering cough is all it would take for your whole family's schedule to splinter.

Maybe you're driving your kids to soccer (after school but before piano) and you realize, "Yikes! I'm spread so thin that I could crack at any moment. And hey, wait a second, am I getting a sore throat?" Immediately you make everyone in the car use hand sanitizer -- twice.

Later on, when you're at Cub Scouts and somebody breathes on you funny, you give that kid the evil eye. It's all you can do to not say "Turn your neckerchief into a cough mask, Tiger." Then you pretend like your own nose isn't dripping.

When you're brushing your teeth at 9:30, (which is early for you, but you're so dang tired), you try not to remember all the things you touched. How many doorknobs did you handle today?

Then you start to get really nervous. Because you know, you just know, you can't get sick. When moms get sick, the whole house suffers. Let's face it. Butts don't wipe themselves.

But it's too late. The next morning you wake up like death warmed over. It takes 10 minutes and two cups of tea before you can even talk. Your husband has already left for work. There's no preschool today. You walk the big kids to the bus stop in the rain.

And you try, you really, really try, not to be mean. But gosh darn it! Why can't you take sick leave from being a mom?

You can't. That's why I think we all need a "Mom Gets Sick" kit in the garage. It's kind of like an earthquake kit, only this one won't be three years old and forgotten in your back yard.

First stock up on the essentials: soup, juice, chocolate, Sudafed, tissues and dinner items your husband can cook while the kids brawl over the Wii.

Then add something that will keep your family busy, like books, stickers and the supposedly lost charger to your Kindle. If it will keep kids occupied while you lay down on the couch, add it to the box.

But you and I both know, Mom, that no matter how much you prepare it will never be enough. So when your day of doom comes, don't feel guilty. Just let your children watch lots of TV.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

Story tags » Parenting

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