“Oh Dear Lord, just take me now”.
This is what I remember my father uttering as he was
dying laying on the couch sick with the flu. I was 7 years old. I was home sick as well, and was sitting in a chair, in my nightgown, playing with my keyboard as my father, apparently, lay on his deathbed .
Being home with dad when I was sick was, well, it was different from when I was home sick with my mom. He did a good job taking care of me, focusing mostly on the necessities and letting me watch The Price Is right, but it was a different story when mom walked through the door. I just felt…..better.
When mom came home, I knew everything would be alright.
As I’m sure anyone who had a good mom can attest, there is just something about having your mom around when you’re sick. It was having someone there who knew what you needed even before you did. It was having the one person there who knew exactly how you liked your toast. Having someone there who said, “no, you cannot have any milk because milk makes your tummy upset”.
Dad didn’t brushed the hair back from my face over and over until I drifted off to sleep; he didn’t gently rub my back, or give me ice chips to chew when I had an upset stomach; he didn’t have that soft, melodic voice. Oh, he had myriad other strengths and abilities that mom didn’t, for which I am grateful, but when it came to being sick, I just wanted my mom.
For the past 6 days, I think I’ve realized where this comes from for so many of us.
Both of my boys got a very nasty flu bug that has lasted a minimum of 4-5 days. My eldest, Si, got it first, and then Doe got it two days later. My husband was off doing some early camping with Doe when he got sick and, he told me about Doe whining for me and wanting to go home to be with me.
“When we’re having fun, he tells me he loves me more than you, but as soon as he wasn’t feeling well, it was ‘Mommy’, ‘Mommy’, ‘Mommy’!”.
I have caught puke in my hands countless times this week. I have pressed my lips to their foreheads so often, I can tell what their temperature is without having to use a thermometer. I have held their hands while they have had diarrhea and cried. I have carried them everywhere because they were so weak. I rubbed their backs until they fell asleep. I have cleaned their bums and rocked them in my arms and lay with them when they asked. I have slept with them both, one on each side, for 5 nights straight getting no sleep, checking fevers, catching their vomit, changing sheets, and snuggling their feverish bodies. I have kissed them even though they’re contagious. I showered far less than I’d like to admit.
It’s always so incredible to watch ourselves come full circle in life. Now I’m the one who gives my kids a feeling of safety and relief when they’re sick. I love that I have been a good enough mother to do this. I love that my own mother taught me how to give that feeling to my own kids. After all of the times I was impatient, or short with them, or shrugged them off because I was too busy doing something else, or told them to “hurry up” or “quiet down”, I hope they also remember the times I sat up with them when they were sick at 2:00 in the morning , or gave them only a teaspoon of Pedialyte every 15 minutes in an effort to keep them hydrated as best I could. Or, the fact that I forgot to brush my teeth one day.
We’re leaving for a long weekend of family camping tomorrow. Daddy will most likely be the preferred parent again, as he should be. He’s slightly better at having fun than I am. But that’s okay. We each have our strengths. I’m exhausted after this past week, as I’m sure my boys are too, so I think we are all ready for some Fun In The Sun.
Besides, I am in need of a very long, hot shower.