Last week had a pretty full agenda, usual routine things, several added appointments for me, and several added items for the boys, but all that changed around 4am Wednesday morning…
JMan came in the bedroom, tapped me on the shoulder and told me he had just thrown up. My brain, still groggy from sleep, didn’t immediately register what he was telling me; so, I said, “Okay, go back and lay down. I’ll be there in just a second.” As I heard him leave the room, my brain and my “mom instincts” kicked in. I got up, went and got blankets to make a pallet in the guest room (I always “quarantine” the sick, hoping to contain the germs), retrieved my own pillows, and told little man to come with me.
I proceeded to make him a pallet, set up water bottles, towels and a night light. We were “set” for a night of sickness, or so I thought, knowing that the boys’ usual course is about 6-8 hrs., and they’re done. At noon that day, after following him to help in the restroom every 30 minutes since 4am, I began to wonder if this was going to be the normal run of sickness. Five hours later, I was convinced this was one nasty stomach bug that wasn’t going to let go so easily.
Everything stopped that day. I cancelled my dentist appointment to get a crown, which I have to say, I wasn’t too upset about. I put off plans to cook for the week (I had had plans to cook several days’ worth of meals), and we ordered out for lunch. My husband took JGrizz back and forth to church with him, as I’m usually the chauffeur, allowing my husband to prepare for his Wednesday night class. I asked someone else to record JGrizz in a drama performance; since, I couldn’t be there, and I called the choir director to notify him of my absence. Joey then chauffeured JGrizz back and forth to school the next two days, as well as, helped him to study for tests and confirmed homework was done, and he taxied him to other events and church for the weekend, all the things which I am very accustomed to doing in my day to day routine.
All day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was totally focused on taking care of JMan, tending to his needs, praying, refilling water bottles and cleaning up behind him, all the while, hoping and praying no one else would get sick. (This was a very nasty bug!!) My routine became matched with his, sleeping when he slept and waking when he awoke; otherwise, I stumbled around trying to catch up on the lost sleep, which, I basically did anyway during those hours. It’s never easy sleeping when you’re baby’s sick! I stayed huddled up with him in that guest room for four days. Nothing else mattered except getting him well.
Due to both my boys and my husband depending on me for different things day to day, I had to fight internally with my own mother and wife instincts throughout that time. I felt obligated and needed to tend to JMan’s needs, while I also battled guilt over not being able to be there for our oldest son’s youth competitions that weekend and leaving all the burden on my husband to make sure they were both taken care of and arrived at all the places at which they needed to be for the total of five days (by the time JMan really got well).
It made me think of families whose babies have gone through trauma, are experiencing a terminal illness, or even have a long-term sickness that maybe can’t be diagnosed. How do they function over time? How do they manage their homes, their lives, their personal needs? This realization came to me: they find a “new normal.” Yes, that’s the only thing you can do when your loved one is sick, and they need you. All the other things in life, those things which you thought were of such importance, just seem to fade away. The focus becomes crystal clear: the well being of your child.
Those days gave me a new perspective. A perspective that, I’m sure, was really always there. It wasn’t the first time our little man had been sick; however, it was the first time he’d been this sick. It was, also, the first time in a long time, I suppose, I stood back and thought of more than just getting through the moments of sickness and maybe thought of more than just the sickness of my own child. It reminded me that time seems to stand still when you least expect it. It reminded me, as I often encourage others to do, to make sure I’m living life to the fullest, and cherishing those with whom I’m living and sharing this life. For, none of us know what tomorrow might bring, and what a pitiful state we will be in if we only realize tomorrow what we missed out on today!
So, can I encourage you today? Take time for those you love, not just in the tough moments, but in the good moments as well. Step back and see those you love in the moments right where they are. Cherish them. Hold them. Love them. Step back and take a look around. Take notice of who is there, where you are, and where you are going together. When we’re able to step back and see the bigger picture, we’re apt to learn so much more!