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It’s no holiday when the kids are sick

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I’m writing this on New Year’s Day, which also happens to be the seventh day of Christmas. I’ve been fortunate to spend all seven days of Christmas at home this year, as our office has been closed for the holidays. As someone who loves Christmas (despite having worked at the mall for several Christmases when I was younger), it is always rewarding to be home with my family at this time of year.

The rewards have come in a variety of gooey forms and colors this year, as the whole family has been sick. We began Christmas by attending Mass on Christmas Eve, and as luck would have it, that’s the last time I can recall everyone in my family being well. My toddler daughter began showing signs of sickness that night and her nose resembled a faucet by Christmas morning. By the end of the night, my oldest boy had it. At this point I forget when my middle child first showed signs, because they’ve all been sick off and on since then. Yesterday, rather than receiving six geese a-laying, my wife informed me that she too was ill.

Today, on the seventh day of Christmas, I was placed in charge of three kids who are in varying stages of recovery from some kind of nasty cold or mild flu, and are therefore more likely than usual to whine, argue, and throw fits. And the most rambunctious, mischievous kid is the one who was feeling the best today.

It has not gone well. I doled out more time in the penalty box than the referees at the NHL Winter Classic. (And no, I didn’t get to watch any of it. Partly because I was refereeing various squabbles all day, and partly because the Wild One destroyed my flat screen a few weeks back. But that’s another story.)

Times like these remind me that being a lawyer is probably a lot easier than being a stay-at-home parent, at least for me. No doubt the profession has its challenges and boatloads of stress, but I’ve been trained how to deal with that. I’m five years into parenthood but haven’t attended a parental professionalism course. If there were parental malpractice insurance, my rates would be going up after today.

My wife is a stay-at-home mom, which means I’m usually spared the full brunt of a sick-kid trifecta. (If only we hit the trifecta so frequently at Pimlico…) Sure, I help out after work, but I get to leave the biohazard facility and go to the office every day. I get to focus on fun things like answering interrogatories and reviewing medical records while she wipes . . . noses. But not this past week, and especially not today.

Most lawyers need humbling now and then, and nothing humbles me faster than taking care of my kids all day. I love them dearly, but I don’t know how my wife does it. I’m just glad that she does it. Gaining a greater appreciation for her job is probably the gift I needed most this Christmas. It’s good to get a little reminder like this now and then. (But not too often.)

At least the dog isn’t sick. That’s the worst.