Winter in northern California is hardly challenging. Even during the years we get lots of rain (not this year or last), it’s rarely freezing cold and it certainly doesn’t snow where I am in the Bay Area. Despite the mild weather, we do still get hit with colds and flu though. My youngest ended up getting sick with a cold this weekend and stayed home from school today, which meant I stayed home too. Here’s what I learned during our sick day together.
1. When kids don’t feel well, don’t make them eat. Lilah is my third child and I am still one of those mamas who hovers with food, encouraging just one more bite. The whole I’m-not-hungry-thing is worse when she’s sick and it makes me nervous: what if she faints from hunger? What if she never eats again? Ridiculous, I know. I finally backed off when she said “If I drink the soup I’m gonna barf mama.” Okay, I get it. She’ll eat when she’s hungry and will figure out what her body needs, whether it’s raw kale salad or three containers of yogurt. Until then, she’ll survive.
2. Logging six straight hours of screen time is okay. First we watched Finding Nemo and I cried like I always do at the end. Then we watched Lady and the Tramp, with it’s totally vintage animation. Next up was Aladdin – Robin Williams as Genie is such a treat – followed by Lilah’s current favorite, The Little Mermaid. We took bathroom breaks and applesauce breaks and I had to help her blow her nose a few times, but other than that, we just snuggled up together on the couch under a fluffy blanket. Zoning out on movies is the best medicine.
3. It’s all about being present. The only thing my youngest child needed from me was me. She needed me to ask her if she wanted more water or crackers, a pair of cozy socks or her favorite blue Elephant Lovey. She needed my sympathetic smiles and nods, my kisses on her warm forehead, my lap to sit on. She needed me to hold her hand while we walked down the hall to the bathroom. All I had to do was be there.
4. Down time is good for me, too. I didn’t cross off any to-dos. I didn’t run the laundry or wash up the pan from the morning’s eggs. I didn’t work on an article or write thank you notes or go to the grocery store. Instead, I watched four Disney movies, thumbed through the latest issue of Elle Décor, blew bubbles outside in the spring-like, late afternoon sun with my feeling-a-little-better daughter and burrowed my bare feet into the cool, green grass. Doing mostly nothing all day was such a relief and a much-needed break from the everyday bustle.
5. I am enough. Lately I’ve been feeling less than adequate (it happens). I second-guess my parenting decisions, have trouble prioritizing and feel rather static in general. I think these feelings are born mostly out of fear – fear of rejection, fear of comparison, fear of making a mistake. Today, though, I became fearless. I put aside my nagging self-doubt and focused on just one goal: easing my sniffly, tired daughter through the day quietly and gently and with love. I didn’t have to be anything or anyone other than me – and I am enough.
Lilah fell asleep quickly tonight, her breath finally even and gentle after three days of congestion. I suppose it’s back to our full-speed-ahead lives in the morning. I’m grateful I got to spend this time with her – and myself – watching movies, blowing bubbles, cuddling up.