I recently spent an afternoon in the ER of our local hospital with my youngest, who came home from school not feeling well. Our doctor was unable to see us for two days, so off to the land of uncomfortable chairs and harried nurses we went for a strep test.
As I sat there, watching a parade of people, some with real ailments, and some questionable, my little guys fevered body leaning against me under my arm, making me sweat from the heat, I began to muse about how rare it is my kids actually get sick. My little guy has had it a bit rough recently, and the last little bit of the school year seems unusually rife with illness or some kind of calamity that has resulted in injury. As I sat there and mulled over what the rest of my day, and night was going to be like, I realized that I would not trade this afternoon, and what I know will be the resulting sleepless night, for anything in the world.
I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out.
Its not as if I am wishing sickness or injury on my children, far from it. I do however realize that, as a mom, I am looked upon by my kids as the healer of boo boos, the calm in the upset and the keeper of the night shift when they cant sleep. Its something meaningful that I think at times we as moms don’t see, while we crankily move through another vomit laden day. We stumble around, groggy from lack of sleep, sore from the weird positions we sit in so our kids can lay against us, our clothes sweaty from little overheated bodies, and forget that all of this is a deep bonding, just as meaningful and strong, if not more so, as sitting with a book to read to them, fixing them dinner and talking at the table, or playing a game together.
I am their comfort when they feel their worst, when they wake up in the night, stumbling to my bedside to announce they don’t feel good, only to promptly throw up on the floor instead of going to the bathroom first. Why do they do that? Because I am the first thing they think of when they feel bad. Mom will fix it. Mom will make it better. Before their brain can even kick in fully, I am the first thought in their misery laden search for comfort.
And it isn’t limited to the flu or a cold. Its a stubbed toe, a smashed finger or a bonk on the head. Its a nightmare that wakes them, a loud noise that startles them, or someone picking on them at school.
Like every mom who keeps her worries secret, their struggles and hurts and illness keep me up a lot of long nights. Like tonight. He wont know how many times I go to his bedside and touch his forehead to see if his fever has returned, to listen to his breathing, and watch his face for signs of distress in his sleep.
They don’t realize how many times a day I wonder about them while they are at school, or think about them while I work midnights, gone while they sleep.
As we left the hospital, prescription in hand, he wrapped his little arm around me, and we walked that awkward too close together walk to the car, he looked up at me through his glasses with his red rimmed eyes and said “I love you mom.”
I wouldn’t trade this day for anything. Someday when they are grown, when they have a home and kids of their very own, I will be glad I traded the sleep of those nights for exhaustion, an aching back, tired eyes and a worried mind. They are more valuable than gold.
I’m going to head upstairs and check on him again. Sleep well my little guy, momma has the watch from here.