Both the little kids have a cold, generously passed down from their big sister.
This isn’t the toddlers first rodeo, so she is mostly a trooper. She’s a bit of a zombie and her nose runs like a faucet so I’m constantly harassing her with Kleenex and saline spray but she mostly goes about her business as usually with maybe a few extra snuggles required. Until suddenly she doesn’t anymore and she needs me RIGHT NOW and little problems feel like even bigger problems than they normally would be for a toddler.
Meanwhile, the baby is basking in the milestone of her first official cold. Her nose is runny. And, much like her toddler sibling, her feelings are much bigger than usual. She cries her saddest cry if not picked up quickly enough, if asked to burp after a meal, or if put in the carseat or kept awake for too long.
As I was snuggling her to sleep in one arm while pulling an emotional toddler into the rocking chair with us with the other arm today, I couldn’t help but think that this should be one of those hard days of parenting. Confined to the house with two needy sick kids in a pool of germs should be enough to send anyone over the edge.
And don’t get me wrong, it was not easy. I repeat, NOT EASY.
But instead of drowning in stress in these moments today, I found myself filled with gratitude.
To be honest, the feeling surprised me. Of all the wonderful, beautiful, gratitude inspiring moments of motherhood, I didn’t expect to be overcome with love while under a pile of crying, snot-covered children. Yet there I was.
Since then I’ve been thinking about it and trying to figure out why that was my reaction in that moment.
And I’m not sure it’s something I can explain.
The closest I can come to an explanation is to say this: that helping them feel better reminds me what a privilege it is to be a mother.
I get to be the one their tear filled eyes look for first. I get to be the lap they long to crawl into. I get the awesome privilege and responsibility of being the one they rely on to help them when things are tough.
Most days they look to me for their basic needs. I am the one who changes the diapers, the one who drives the car and retrieves the Legos off the top shelf and the one who rescues blankie from the dryer. I am the Keeper of the Snacks. I know the importance of this work, but for the most part, in its day to day setting, it is thankless work. And that’s okay.
But when they are sick, their needs take on a whole new level of urgency, and thus, my work takes on a new level of importance. When the nose has been suctioned clean and saline spray has been administered and vapor rub and tylenol are doing their work, when a fresh drink of water and a warm clean blankie soothe discomforts and mama’s arms open up to an inviting snuggle, I can feel the relief in their tiny bodies.
And know that I helped.
I know that the time I get to be home with them matters. But on the days when they don’t feel well and need their mama just a little more than usual, then it becomes obvious just how much this work matters. It’s the greatest, hardest, most important work I will ever do.
And all it took was a few runny noses to remind me.