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From 'streptuplets' to a sun-saved soul: A lesson in parental patience

From TODAYshow.com producer, Rachel Chamberlin Schwanewede Just when you think you're plunging into a dark hole of the winter blues, snow, flooding, power outages, sick kids and more … the sun comes out! After a crazy workweek and having my husband away for more than a week on business, I get run down. I get sick. I get strep throat and a sinus infection. The kids start dropping one by one.

From TODAYshow.com producer, Rachel Chamberlin Schwanewede Just when you think you're plunging into a dark hole of the winter blues, snow, flooding, power outages, sick kids and more … the sun comes out! After a crazy workweek and having my husband away for more than a week on business, I get run down. I get sick. I get strep throat and a sinus infection. The kids start dropping one by one. First the baby (9 months old) -– she gets a high fever for a few days, which culminates on the fourth day with a completely sleepless night, coupled with screaming fits and just general unhappiness for an otherwise happy baby. On the fifth day, a rash breaks out all over her belly, indicating a high likelihood of roseola (a common childhood virus, which is later confirmed by a doctor visit.) As she begins to turn the corner on day six, her 5-year-old sister wakes up miserable and talking like she has marbles in her mouth. A fever and another trip to the doctor to confirm it: She has strep throat. Hmmmm. Suspicious of the third child, our 7-year-old daughter who happily went to school that day and has a tendency to be the stealth germ carrier, we make another trip to the doctor. And yes, you guessed it –- she has strep too! No symptoms, but she’s got it for sure. So now four out of five of our family members are sick, the kids can’t go to school and my husband (who just got back from his business trip to a firestorm of sickness and really cranky people) is probably wondering if he can hop on the first plane out of town. But instead, with his ever cheerful spirit, he swoops in like an angel to bring some peace back to our household. But even with his return, I’m still sick and exhausted from commuting to work and sleepless nights with the kids. I’m so tired. How will I ever get my energy back when I can never rest? I’m so cranky. I don’t even like me. I’m desperate for help. And then it comes… Here comes the sun!Yes, you’ve surely heard that little ditty by The Beatles. Well, in my case it couldn’t be more true. “Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right…” If you live in the Northeast (and in my case New Jersey), you know we just got hit by a killer rainstorm with hurricane-force winds. Friends and neighbors throughout the tristate area were hit by massive flooding, downed trees and power outages. Well, my family got very lucky and only suffered minor flooding and fallen tree branches, but honestly I think losing power or major flooding would have pushed me over the edge on the same weekend as caring for the “streptuplets.” And then it’s absolutely amazing how the weather can just turn on a dime. Today, the sun is out and we’re suddenly blessed with 70-degree springlike weather. While the first official day of spring is two days away, it couldn’t be more balmy or beautiful. The kids woke up happy, with a little skip in their steps, and driving into New York City this morning, I didn’t even mind the bumper-to-bumper traffic. With my window open and music cranked, I suddenly escaped to another place. My strep is gone (for the most part) and the kids are on the mend (hopefully) and I was happily driving along listening to favorite tunes that took me back in time. I went back to my ragtop days driving around in a Jeep Wrangler with my hot boyfriend (he’s my hubby now), partying with friends, without a care in the world. And then suddenly the traffic forces me to slam on the brakes, and I realize people are looking at me funny and smiling. The construction workers must have picked up on my horrible singing voice. Was I really that loud? Or maybe it was just that I really wasn’t in the Jeep! (Dang, I do miss that car in the warm weather.) Nope. Those days are gone. I’m now sporting a hot black minivan -- soccer ball bumper magnet and all! And I’m not rockin’ out with my friends. I’m a 30-something mom of three on my way to work. There's nothing like traffic to smack you back to reality in a hurry, but I'm glad I could give the hard-hat dudes a little chuckle. The fantasy was fun and it was just what I needed to talk me off of the ledge! It just goes to show you, a good dose of patience (or just plain hanging in there) and a little bit of sun can go a long way. Thank you, spring! Thank you, sun! And hang in there everyone who’s still suffering from the floods and power outages. Here’s hoping it gets better for you soon! (Photos (top left): Streptuplet #3 on the rebound. (Lower right) The hot rod minivan with smiling streptuplets on board.)Have a "Thought for TODAY"? Share yours by posting it below.