Sunday, January 16, 2011

Parenting With Chronic Illness: Skip the Birthday Parties

Single parenting week has been kicked off with a bang followed by copious whimpering on my part.

First up, the toddler's first swimming lesson. Which she managed well.

The weather, though, was another story. It's whatever you call colder than frigid. The wind kicked up tornadoes of ice crystals that invaded my lungs and drummed in my ear.

Just the other day I was telling someone, asthma is like drag on a car. Sure, you can probably get a Porsche up to 90 even with a parachute snagging wind behind it, but not without making the engine work a whole lot harder. I may outwardly appear to be 100% a-okay, but it takes more out of me to do regular stuff compared to normally lunged people.

And I feel it.

Especially when the winter wind pythons through my lungs.

Or when I walk into a birthday party for a 4 year old and see they have cats.

Because I didn't think to ask.

At least they weren't smokers. Thank Gawd.

This was my first birthday party with the toddler. The very first one, I worked so hubby handled it. The second, the older neighbor girls took her and left us alone for a blissful 3 hours--see also heaven for parents.

This party was quite the rude awakening.

One, I need to remember to ASK about the environment I've been invited to. I am still not used to how vigilant I need to be now. I'm working on 'old asthma time', when it really didn't matter and any fallout was minor.

Two, children's birthday parties are horrible evil things that are best avoided. The toddler was run over by the older kids (all boys who seemed to all have ADHD or a serious Red Bull habit) and the younger kids were all refusing to share. There was crying. Squabbling. Boo-boos. Two hours in, they still hadn't served the cake* and the toddler was not coping well with the all around lack of sharing (day two of no nap did not help).

As a parent, I was stuck in the delicate position of not parenting other people's kids but also trying to ensure no one's kids killed mine.

I pulled the plug and left. Too Lord of the Flies for us.

By the time we walked out, I felt like I'd been worked over by Mike Tyson and a familiar ache started to throb in my mid back until my limbs turned to lead. Way too much stress.

From here on out, Daddy has to do this birthday crap. I can't hack it. Maybe someday if I ever kick my steroid habit, but now? It's just asking for trouble.

*For those of you without kids, this is excessively long for a birthday party. My goal is always to have the entire thing done in 2 hours; food, cake, games, gifts. If people want to stay past that, fine, but they aren't held hostage because the cake hasn't been served yet.


  1. Oh, I feel for you. I truly do. On all fronts.

    Scott takes Ellie to almost all birthday parties. I try to attend when the parents are particular friends of ours, but I don't always manage even those few. Even well-run bday parties kill me because just being around that many kids (who are always high energy, it seems) wears me down, even when I just sit and watch.

    And the asthma. What's up with that? Before I got sick in 2007, my asthma was mild, and sure, if I went to someone's home with pets, I got triggered. But that's what rescue inhalers are for, right? But my lungs are as messed up as the rest of me these days, and when I forget to ask in advance about pets (like I did yesterday -- two dogs and a cat. Ack!), it just keeps hitting me. Not bad enough that I'm going to the ER, but I used my rescue inhaler three times yesterday (four hours apart) and once so far today. I probably should be using it again, but I'm contemplating breaking out the nebulizer instead. (Never had one of those until after 2007, either. They didn't have 'em when I was a kid and my asthma wasn't bad enough as an adult.)

    Single parenting with all this going on has to be hard too. Hope you're having a quiet day today and able to recover some energy as well as getting your pain levels down and lung issues cleared.

    Hang in there, and good luck with the rest of the week!!

  2. Ah, children's parties. Until you've done a pony party, you truly haven't lived.

    Miserable little shetland ponies, "led" around by unhappy adults, ridden by little children screaming for said adult to go faster. While the miserable little pony is determined to try to plant all four hooves on the feet of the hapless adult.

    Fun fun fun.

    Hope you feel better soon.


  3. There will never be a pony party.

    We will overcome the birthday curse!


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