Surviving Savoring the Sick Days

sunsetsWe will see many more sunsets, but this one, never again.

I was going to write a sick day survival guide. Lately, it seems like we have them so often around here, it was time to reflect and see if we could at least gain some wisdom from these crazy fever-filled, Tempra-sticky, sneezy-snotty, restless days and sleepless nights. Wouldn't you like to know how to get your kid to swallow that too-sweet orange medicine, how to keep her busy without (okay, with less) screen time, how to make a tired toddler less whiny, how to just get through the day. But a funny thing happened while I was composing that other post. Literally.

She made me laugh.

playful kid being silly
Is there a doctor in the house?

I was trying to be grouchy. She was refusing to nap and I hadn't had coffee. She had no appetite and I was probably coming down with whatever bug she had, like I always do. She wanted only me and I had a project deadline coming up. This was your typical recipe for a short temper and a long day. 

But that laugh made me pause long enough to regain my footing and say, okay, it's not as bleak as it looks. Like a bad bug, this foul mood will pass and go away. 

No, our sick day—which had turned into a week—wasn't all pleasant. We had a spat at dinner when she refused to eat. We had another struggle after dinner about taking her new medicine. Her fever spiked and lethargy kicked in, so my maternal hypochondria was in overdrive, imagining all sorts of worst-case scenarios. And, if you ask her papa, he'll probably add a dozen more things to this list of unpleasantries. We each had our breaking points, although fortunately not at the same time, so one of us could step in for the other.

But there were great moments, too. Moments I want to remember. What surprised me the most?

I want to remember the challenging, chaotic, crazy-eyed, sleep-deprived moments, too: the moments that tested what we were made of and showed us who we were, as individuals and as a family. 
I'm changing my script. Yes, I am sometimes frustrated by her choices, but I also feel proud of her bravery, delighted by her creativity, and touched by her sweetness. I feel tired, but I am proud of my endurance. And after all these sick days and scares, we are learning to treasure our little ones even more. So I am saying yes to requests to be carried that I would normally refuse. I am saying yes to morning snuggles even when I can barely open my eyes. I am saying okay to the "bad things" and worrying less about passive screen time by watching it with her so we are actively talking about what was going on (and, oh, the conversations we had!).

change your storyOne missed nap time when she lay her fevered head on my chest and talked and talked and talked, I remembered that, just like the good days, these sick days will pass and she won't need me to care for her anymore. She'll brush off my advice for staying hydrated (just like I do with my mom), call out for someone else when she's scared, and hold someone else's hand for support. The struggles will end, but so will the snuggles, and there won't be any room for me in her sick day bed. I'll be lucky if she calls me to say hi, much less to tell me about her theories about how elephants are born, why the roosters crow, or what she plans to do if she ever gets to "pump a cow" in the land of sweets.

Is your time with your children about surviving or about savoring? We may not enjoy every moment, but to savor doesn't just mean to enjoy. It could simply mean to slow down and taste, to feel the texture, the weight, the heat, the tartness, the sweet notes, the aftertaste, and all the nuances of that bite-sized sampling of your life. To reserve judgment until after the experience. To find the best parts of the experience and let them linger, longer, so that, years later, you can almost taste them again.