Some of my fondest memories of childhood were when I was sick. It’s when I felt most mothered.
I told my sister about this a while back, and she understood—when else did a kid from a big family (I’m the last of 7 kids) get individual attention? I can remember the drill: going into my parents’ room in the middle of the night to wake up Mom, then heading to the bathroom, no matter the season, to sit on the old, steel heat register grate to curl up and wait. She’d bring the thermometer; treat my ailments with Robitussin and Mentholatum, an aspirin crushed into a spoon with honey.
A day home from school meant a day in bed with the portable black & white TV brought in to watch game shows, flat white soda with saltines and chicken noodle soup. These are the comforts that still soothe me today when I’m feeling bad. But, now that I’m the mom, of course, I don’t have time to get sick. And thankfully (knock on wood) if and when I do get sick, it passes quickly. But I miss my mom and that old metal heat register. I even miss the sharp, acidic taste of the aspirin that the spoonful of honey couldn’t mask.
Right now, I’m dealing with round two of a fever that’s taken turns keeping my kids out of school, and at an age where they’re getting more self-sufficient, it’s when they’re sick that I feel most like a mother, when I’m able to put other parts of life on pause and care for my kids. It’s when they actually slow down to let me.
No mother likes a sick kid. At the very least, it’s an inconvenience to the busy schedules that we all keep; and worse than that, we hate to see our kids feeling bad or in pain. So, as I prepare for a day that’s going to include another kid home from school and in bed with a fever, I’m looking for the silver lining, emailing his teacher to let him know that he won’t be attending the field trip tomorrow (and therefore, I can’t chaperone), sending my husband to the store with a shopping list for more bananas, crackers and gelatin.
Most of all, I’m thinking that even though I’m dealing with thermometers and body fluids and whining and being overtired, I’m just thankful that I get to be their mom.