We have not had a good season when it comes to colds. I think it's because my husband is a teacher, and brings things home from his students. (High schoolers seem to be sick a lot.) My husband is on his second awful cold in as many months, I had that horrible one in November, James had his very first ear infection, and Elisabeth is now sick in bed for only the second or third time in her life! (She definitely wins the immune system award in our house -- she is so rarely sick.)
My mom was able to stop by yesterday with a fresh coloring book for Elisabeth (always a nice thing to have when you're laid up), and we also got out some little toys that Elisabeth had been given as a gift for acting as a flower girl in a friend's wedding two years ago. We'd forgotten all about them up on a shelf, and everyone was excited to learn that the little characters were actually finger puppets! Elisabeth's dolls have been her constant companions (along with a big pile of winter and holiday books and her snow globe), and snacks of frozen berries and card games have come in very handy, as well.
All this has me thinking about the rituals that we keep when our children are not themselves -- suffering, under the weather, emotionally distressed, etc. Most of the time I kind of think that those times are isolated and somehow not part of our "real life." And yet, there they are, cropping up and reminding me of the messiness of life. And how important these times of convalescence are: to nourish a sick child's body, to nurture a sorrowful child's spirit, to ease a suffering child's mind. What does it take to do that job? Yes, it takes some real physical things: some eucalytus oil in the vaporizer, a homeopathic remedy under the tongue, a cool cloth on the forehead, a gentle massage of aching muscles. But most of all, it takes time. Time is the best gift I can give my children, when they need me, and even when they think they don't. Time that sometimes I think I don't have. But if I really take the time to be present with my children, everything else seems to fall into place anyway. That time spent is an even greater gift to me.
I love this post by Molly, which she ends by saying that a system is not what is needed to raise our children well. She's so right. It shouldn't just be, "Make dinner? Check. Fold laundry? Check. Nourish my child's body, mind, and soul? Check."
Some of my "to-do's" may go unchecked over these few days. But being a present mother to my wee ones is the greatest to-do of all.