Those of you who have kids know how it is. Temperatures drop, sunlight fades, germs gear up, and immune systems … well, I always imagine them raising their little immune system hands and simply surrendering. Sniffles, chills, sore throats and achy limbs ensue. Before you know it, your cozy, wintery home has transformed into a camphor-smelling sick bay, and you can feel the Florence Nightingale cap installing itself on your tired head with a gentle but inevitable click.
This is when you need Little Things. Little Things can be a variety of foods, items or activities, and they may differ from family to family. At my house, it’s usually an assortment of: bowls of chicken soup, a few tangerine slices, a cup of hot milk and honey, a dash of lavender added to a hot bath, fuzzy socks, a soft silk scarf, a favorite furry toy, hot water bottle, a chapter or two of a Dr. Dolittle story, a cute old movie … all these wrapped up in exasperated love for the suffering brood.
It’s on these not that infrequent occasions that I actually question having done the right thing becoming a mom. What was I thinking?! I remember my own hyper, impatient, desperately trying and ultimately losing the struggle to be nurturing, mom. From my perspective of today I can see her straining against the leash my being home and sick put on her brilliant mind – always worrying about some linguistic puzzle or the right pronunciation of a particularly rare word in an ancient Transylvanian dialect. I remember, and I try not to fall into that trap myself. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes, it’s so easy to hide behind an assignment, a conveniently looming deadline, or a set of urgent chores that absolutely can’t wait.
But then, when I really look into those little faces flushed with fever, it’s my turn to surrender. I give up all pretense of being a professional, and I switch gears. I go for one of those grocery runs that make the lady at the check-out cluck in sympathy: oranges, lemons, all sorts of fruit, veggies, a whole chicken, white toast, apple sauce and instant rice pudding, lots of milk and bottled water. Tissues! Linden flower tea, cough syrup and nurofen juice from the pharmacy. Maybe a sweet roll or a treat from the bakery. Then back home, prepare chicken soup on autopilot, and read a story, wipe noses, make tea, refill water bottles, prepare a hot water bottle if needed. And while the sweet smell of fresh chicken soup begins wafting through the house, I can feel myself winding down, enjoying those Little Things, and accepting that it is what it is: My kids are sick, so they need me.
My advice to everyone of you who finds herself in that predicament, privately ranting against the injustice of f…ing gender inequality, demanding a modicum of professionalism of herself while surrounded by snotty, coughing and insufferable youngsters is this: Breathe in, breathe out. Put the work stuff out of your mind for now. Enjoy the fragrance of linden flower tea, help yourself to a little Swiss chocolate, heck, have a glass of Scotch if you want, and remember this: You are blessed. You have children who love you and depend on you. Be there for them, and enjoy their little faces relaxing as their eyes slowly drift shut. They’ll remember you did this for them, and you’re teaching them how wonderful it is to feel cared for even if you’re miserable, annoying and disgusting. You’re making them feel safe.
I’m leaving you today with a bunch of pictures of our Little Things. I would love to hear what yours are. Take care, everyone.