My oldest son got sick on Saturday afternoon and spend the next thirty-six hours running a fever and barely eating. The poor kid hardly wanted to get off the couch. This is the same little boy who I sometimes have to force to sit down for “rest time” (he doesn’t nap anymore, but he still needs a few minutes to chill in the afternoons so he doesn’t tucker himself out before dinner). He goes through the five stages of grief every time I tell him he has to be still. Not this weekend. All he wanted to do was be still on the couch under blankets.
Cue my broken heart.
I gave him a fever-reducer. I put a cold cloth on his head. I steered his little brother to play elsewhere for both their sakes. I did what moms do when their kids are sick. I comforted him. One of the ways I did was to lie next to him and softly ruffle his hair back and forth. He only lets me do that when he feels poorly. Otherwise, he doesn’t like it. But when he’s sick, that’s what he wants. And I’ll tell you a secret. I love it.
I hate when my kid is sick. It hurts my heart because I know there is only so much I can do for him. I would take all his pain on myself if I could, but the world doesn’t work like that. But, there is also a little part of me that loves that he’ll let me play with his hair and snuggle up to him. I know that when he feels better, he’ll jump off the couch and take off like a shot for the backyard. I know he’ll duck his head when I reach for his hair. That’s okay. He’s growing up and I respect his wishes, but it makes me relish those moments when he not only needs me but actually wants me close.
The last five years have gone by in a blur. There have been hard moments for both of us. But there has also been so much joy, wonder, and love. Every day he gets a little bigger and I have a little less time before he won’t need me at all. That’s my job–to prepare him to be independent, to not need me. And I know he’s not exactly going to walk out the door for good tomorrow, but I also know how fast time is moving.
So when he wants my snuggles and hugs, when he’ll let me shower him with all my maternal affection, I cherish it. And if I end up running a fever too, it’ll be worth it. Because for just a little while, time slowed down and I got to rock my baby one more time before he stops wanting me to.
I hate when he’s sick, but I love slowing down with him. I would never wish illness on a child–anyone’s child, much less my own–so don’t misunderstand me. But I cling to that moment when all he wants is comfort and he turns to me because I’m his mama.
P.S. If you don’t think I’m crying by the time she gets to “lightsaber wars” in this song, you’re wrong. Gets me every stinking time.