As a mom, I use all of my senses to alert me to potential danger brewing with my kids. But the one that I depend on most is my ears.
When Nathan awoke on Tuesday morning, he was running a fever. He’d acted puny the day before, so after we made it through car line, I brought him back home with the intent of keeping him home from preschool. I gave him some Tylenol and he perked up a bit.
I began making plans for the upcoming marathon this weekend via text with my friend Stephanie. She was with me (for the first fifteen miles, anyway) during last month’s Disney Marathon, and this is our redemption race after the heat (and my sinus infection) made it so disappointing.
After a few minutes, I noticed that the house was very quiet. I got up to check on the silence, and found this:
We headed for the urgent care.
I hate when the kids are sick. I hate the pitiful restlessness and all those products of illness – snotty noses, hacking coughs, the dull eyes and pale skin. I hate having to force-feed ibuprofen and antibiotics that I know will make them feel better but that they vehemently reject in the moment. And, if I’m being honest, I hate that their sickness throws a wrench into my schedule – even if the only thing I have planned is cleaning and grocery shopping.
But there’s one thing that I love: the complete and utter devotion they have to me when they don’t feel well. Most of the time, Daddy is the fun one and Momma is the stick in the mud. Nathan races to the door exclaiming, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” as soon as he hears the key in the lock at the end of the work day; Momma gets a smile and casual hug (after I’ve requested it) upon arrival from three days away out of state.
But when my babies are sick, they want their Momma.
Last night when Mr. Andi came home from work, he tried to give me a break, but Nathan would have none of it. I managed to pass him over to Daddy for just long enough to slice up some avocado and mash it into a pouch of tuna before he insisted on climbing back into my lap again. When Mr. Andi stretched out on the sofa and invited Nathan to come snuggle with him, he was rebuffed. Instead, Nathan turned and threw his arms around me as if Mr. Andi was a stranger.
It can be both worrisome and exhausting to be needed so much.
But on some level, the sick days are an intense microcosm of mothering. The worry, the fear, the second-guessing of the decisions you make – all are part of the job. But the warm snuggle of a child that needs the comfort that only you can provide is part of the job, too. And it’s the part that makes all the rest of it worth doing.