On Being There for Each Other

On Being There for Each Other

Four days out of the last seven, we’ve been at the pediatrician’s office first thing in the morning. It would have been more if they had walk-in hours over the weekend, but as it is I’m a horrible brute of a mother and make the kids wait until Monday if they’re not clearly grievously ill. I know. Call DCFS.

So far we’ve got two high-fever viruses, three ear infections, severe asthma, one throat canker sore (that’s a THING?!?), and a mommy with laryngitis. Mike, who I have been pumping full of vitamin C like it’s going out of style, remains relatively healthy. Which is an interesting dynamic.

Healthy but newly disabled Daddy, overwhelmed and feverish Mommy, kids rotating through who’s snottiest and sleepiest and generally most miserable.

Amidst this chaos, it’s strange to say but I feel like all of us have achieved a level of “normal” that has eluded us these past four months. Dealing with a sick family, that’s normal stuff. It’s a right of passage for every family. It’s the way of life with a house full of kids, every couple of years you have THAT winter, the one where everyone seems to get everything, and you’re scrambling to just kind of keep afloat. And in that weirdly familiar disaster zone of missing Kleenex and disinfecting the refrigerator door handle twice a day, I’m kind of thriving.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel miserable. But this is stuff I GET. Doling out antibiotics and Motrin. Running the nebulizer. Taking temperatures and making soup. Watching “Faerie Tale Theater” and MarbleLympics. (Seriously, if you’ve never watched the MarbleLympics, you are missing out of the sporting phenomenon of the century. I’m team Raspberry Racers all the way, Sophie is all in for the Savage Speeders, Rivka supports the Hazers, and Mike roots for Balls of Chaos. Deborah alone remains unaffiliated, but has a tendency to prefer Crazy Cat’s Eyes.)

Life feels weirdly normal when the focus is on feeling like crap, not on what’s SUPPOSED to be happening, and when. It’s an object lesson in mindfulness, really.

We are in the moment, and despite that moment being fundamentally shitty, we are happier. It’s not about comparing the moment to other moments. It’s not about whether this moment fits into our ideas of what other moments have represented to us.

When I’m sitting on Deborah’s bed at midnight, wiping her tired tears away while she breathes into the nebulizer, it just is. When I’m joking with the twins that Rivka has become one with the couch as she sleeps, cocooned in many blankets and dozing peacefully taking up an outlandishly disproportionate amount of space, it just is. When Mike recruits the healthiest kid to help with the dishwasher and the laundry while I’m at the pharmacy with the sickest kid, it just is.

There’s another thing, though, that I think is deeply important when it comes to our feelings of well being, or otherwise. While the children have been sick, we have received SO MUCH HELP from our community, in ways I can hardly begin to explain. Our bills are paid, our children are getting so many more gifts than we could have provided, our house is cleaner, our laundry is mostly DONE. Anyone who has ever had a house full of sick kids can appreciate the miracle THAT represents.

And as true as it is that mindfulness, living in the moment, can create a real sense of happiness and security, it simply isn’t possible without the other things we have. Community. Resources. An alleviation of the fear of helplessness that comes crashing over people who are struggling in a vacuum.

I think, as I often have, about all the people who are alone in their medical trials and tribulations. Who don’t have dedicated caregivers to make sure that in the midst of whatever shit life is throwing at them, their prescriptions are filled and collected, their doctor’s appointments scheduled and attended, their hands held.

I’ve held a lot of hands this week. I don’t take it for granted.

I know how much it means when someone hold’s my hand, too.



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Read about parenting older children here: The Joys of Being a Big Kid Mom

Read my most recent post here: Sleeping Beauty: the Mom Version

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