I’ve been trapped under a sick, sweaty child for two days.
It’s been fantastic.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like it when my daughter is really ill. We had a horrible health scare about a year and a half ago, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. And I remember the terror when she was small and we were younger, first-time parents, freaked out at the slightest temperature. I spent more time on the phone with that nurse hotline her first year than I spent on the phone with my own mother.
But I’ve learned some things since then, and I know the difference between a sick day and a frantic, dragging my daughter across the bridge to Children’s Hospital day. The latter remains one of my parental greatest fears, and my empathy and encouragement go out to those who are dealing with serious illness right now. That does not change the fact that there are definitely things to enjoy about an unexpected day at home with an only slightly sick kid.
First, there is enforced relaxation. I am lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom, so when my daughter is kept home from school, I suddenly am literally a stay-at-home mom. We’ve done nothing but read, watch TV and old movies, and talk to each other. Despite being on 24/7 on-call for juice and jello delivery, it has been very relaxing to just hang out with her. We’ve gotten caught up on movies and each other in the same week.
Second, there is the friendship. Your real friends climb over themselves to help when you . When I posted on Facebook that my daughter had a fever, I was flattened with the good wishes of people who love her and me. A neighbor brought over some soft rolls within an hour of my post, and it was the only solid food my daughter ate all day. I am incredibly grateful.
And it is not only friends who are kind to you. We live close to the 24 hour in Bella Botega, and I once walked over there at 2:30 in the morning to purchase children's cough syrup and popsicles. When you are in the check out line at that time, with those two items, people step up. I have never had such gentle support, and to the check out clerk that walked with me to the edge of the parking lot to make sure I got across the street safely, I still owe thanks. Oh, and sorry for showing up in my nightgown.
Third, there is the loving. You will never feel more adored by your child then when they don’t feel well. My daughter came home two days ago, walked in the door, and said “I’m tired. I love you.” She hugged me, and it felt like hugging the hot water heater. We’ve spent two days dealing with that internal furnace, and the only thing more constant than the fever is the cuddling. Hugging, laying to watch TV with her head in my lap, or just the smile she gives me when I wipe her forehead with a wet washcloth—I seldom get as direct a shot of my daughter’s love than when she’s slightly ill.
Finally, there is the strength that love gives you. You are never more and less powerful than when you child is ill. As much as you want a magic wand to make them better, or just to trade and be sick yourself instead, there is nothing you can do to make it better.
Except that you make it better just by being there. That amazing smile for the cold washcloth. The relieved sigh when she takes the first sip of the cold apple juice from the cup I’m holding. The true relaxation on her face when her dad finally gets home and she falls asleep in his lap. We can’t fix it, but just our mere presence makes it better. And there’s no power better than that.
Sick is hard. However, if you try, you can find the small things in the hard days that make them not only bearable, but actually enjoyable. The fever broke this morning, and while I am incredibly grateful that my daughter feels better, I will miss her when she heads back to school tomorrow and my real life and full schedule come back.
Of course, now I’m starting to feel a little off myself. Hm. Maybe she’ll bring me a cold washcloth if I ask nicely. After all, I’m tired, and I love her.