I whisk my daughter through the doors of urgent care and cradle her head as I stand behind three other mamas clinging to their babies. We’re each rocking in different ways but moving nonetheless. The silent, comforting rhythm of motherhood. I see sad, sick eyes from the babies with their heads nestled into the necks of their mama.
I’m tired from the sleepless night, and I shift from foot to foot.
There is hushing and humming and back-patting. A pacifier drops to the floor.
All of a sudden my daughter feels heavy. A vague sinking feeling comes over me, like the feeling when you’re supposed to be somewhere but don’t know where. Suddenly I feel weird here.
There’s a stirring in my heart and I scan the room. In an instant, my eyes fill with tears as I realize it’s been so long since I’ve been here. This used to be my familiar, and just like that, it’s foreign again. Ear infections used to be our thing.
As I discreetly wipe my eyes with the back of my hand, I realize something crazy—I miss the sick days.
The days when my babies completely depended on me. The days when all we did was cuddle and try to break the fever.
The days when they clung to me and stayed there until their sweet bodies drifted into sleep. The days that were quiet and slow, spent in bed watching movies and drinking apple juice. The days of multiple baths and washing sheets. The days of rest.
“Are you OK?” the mom next to me asks. I see her notice. I smile through the tears and say, “Yes, I just haven’t been here in a while . . . ”
“I miss it,” I slowly add.
She gives me a funny smile.
“I mean, I haven’t been here,” I nod down at my daughter draped around my neck.
She glances at my 5-year-old. It takes a second, but then she understands. And just like that, she’s crying too. Her baby is a tween, and she’s holding her hand.
“I get it,” she smiles and nods.
And I don’t doubt for a second that she does. Because once they are grown, you miss the hard stuff. The stuff you weren’t sure you’d make it through but you did—a thousand times. And in those thousand times, core memories were made from loving and nurturing your babies, even on the sick days.