Don’t get me wrong, it sucks when the kids are sick. And please know that I’m not talking about serious (chronic or life-threatening) illness, here. I’m just talking about the run-of-the-mill stomach bug or head cold. And I certainly don’t wish illness on my children; I’d just rather them than me, and here is why.
No matter who is sick or healthy, the parent-child relationship (at this age and stage, anyway) goes in one direction: I take care of them. Even if there is someone there specifically to help care for them while I’m sick, they still want me to take care of them. I’m their Mama; if I’m visible, I’m (usually) top choice.
They get my sympathy and basically get away with just about anything when I know they’re feeling miserable. I can get away with nothing. Mama doesn’t get to be cranky and short-tempered just because she doesn’t feel well.
When they’re sick, I can sometimes actually get more of my own work/chores done than usual because they might sleep more than usual. When I’m sick, trying to get any of it done is a major undertaking. And if I don’t happen to have any help, forget it – I’m going to take care of the kids, not the house. Which means as soon as I’m somewhat recovered, there will be exponentially more work to do.
They can snuggle up on the couch and have a movie day, and nap whenever their little body tells them to. I only get to do that if someone takes them away for a while, since my idea of a movie day is NOT Disney-focused. And I definitely can’t just doze off at will. Even with another adult around, YC won’t stand for it, as evidenced the other morning when, after having been up half the night with a sick EC, I randomly dozed on the sofa (with 2 other adults in the house) and I was awoken by fingers poking in my eyes and nose and a plaintive “MaMAAAAA!”
Even when they are old enough to understand what’s happening, their sympathy is fleeting. EC gave me a big hug at one point today and said “I’m so sorry you feel sick, Mama”, and then turned around 3 minutes later and had a massive shrieking meltdown over not being able to fit all the bracelets she wanted into a tiny little keepsake box… because that totally helped change the size of the box and was very soothing to poor Mama all at once.
What it boils down to is that kids just cannot maintain sympathy or empathy for an entire day, and they need/expect us to take care of them no matter what. So if someone in the house is going to be sick, it’s just easier on everyone if it isn’t Mama.