Every year when the Valentine’s Day stuff starts showing up in stores, I get a little thrill. I love the pink and the hearts and the glitter (which distracts the eye from the surrounding filth and dilapidation in which we live) and find in them some consolation for having to stow away my beloved Christmas glitz for 11 months. I festoon the mantel and china cabinet with garlands and paper chains and vintage Valentines and reflect on LOVE and ROMANCE. And then the puking starts.

What I always forget when I’m in the sparkly pink zone is that February is traditionally the time when we get sick. According to my records (and by “records” I mean e-mails venting about various maternal horrors), in 2012 my Valentine’s Day started at 3:30 a.m., when I awoke to someone yelling and discovered that it was Kate, who had vomited all over her bed. February 2013 was equally delightful (read all about it here), but this year topped them all — a two-week fluapalooza featuring vomiting, barking coughs, sore throats, fevers, headaches, malaise and a scandalous dearth of grooming and housekeeping.

At first I tried to keep a positive attitude: “Hey, Maribeth can throw up in a bowl now! Praise the Lord!” “Hey, I may have been up all night dry-heaving and praying for death, but at least I get to spend Sunday in bed recovering ALONE!” But by the time the plague had made it through everyone in the house and back around to Maribeth, who then projectile-vomited all over my bedroom, I was ready to douse the paper chains with gasoline and light a match.

Needless to say, Valentine’s Day itself was devoid of romance, though not of love. This year’s offerings weren’t flowers or boxes of chocolates but my fetching ice and Jell-O and the heating pad for poor Ella and Chris’ venturing out to Walmart for ingredients and cooking dinner, which I appreciated more than any bouquet and which earned him the right to skip out on watching Return to Me with us girls in favor of Cops.

Now that everybody’s finally back in school (as of 10:00 this morning, as Kate went in late because she was up half the night with a migraine), the garlands, Valentines and paper chains are coming down. I’m packing them away with a sense of relief (whew — we made it through ALL THAT) and a prayer that they won’t be infectious next year.



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