Hang in there.
I know it’s hard. Days full of crabby littles who can’t sleep because they don’t feel well. Countless hours wiping noses and disinfecting and bringing drinks and snuggling. Pretending like it’s not inevitable that you will catch it too, even though you’re on the front lines of the germ invasion.
These days are long, and the nights are longer. Somehow they always know when your head touches the pillow and that’s when the marathon begins. Checking temperatures in the dark, digging through drawers for medicine droppers, refilling the humidifier and rubbing on the Vick’s.
It doesn’t take too long for this amplified version of motherhood to feel heavy. Too heavy. Survival instincts kick in and you become a robot going through the motions until the moment you can collapse back into bed.
I get it. I’m right there with you.
But…what if, in the midst of survival robot mode, we all took a moment to back up and look at the bigger picture?
These little people of ours, they’re not going to stay little. Before too long, scooping them up and rocking them back to sleep isn’t going to be an option. Before too long, it won’t be us they reach for when they don’t feel well. Before too long, we’ll have to send them out into the world, not knowing who, if anyone, will be there to offer medicine or drinks or hold them when they don’t feel well.
Right now, we have the most powerful gift in all the world: the mama-magic that can make these small humans feel better just by gathering them up in our arms. Is there any greater privilege?
The other night I was snuggling with my five year old before bedtime. We had just finished reading a book about a friend who gave another friend a hug as a gift.
“A hug isn’t a gift because you can’t keep it,” she said matter-of-factly.
“I disagree,” I said. “You may not keep the hug itself, but you keep the memory of the hug. And that’s a pretty good gift.”
Her little brow furrowed and she thought for a while. “But I can’t remember every time you’ve hugged me, Mom,” she said.
“Close your eyes. If you imagine me hugging you, can you remember what it feels like?”
She smiled and I knew she understood.
Later that night when her baby sister woke up stuffy-nosed and coughing, I stood rocking her in the dark of her room as she relaxed into my shoulder and finally drifted back to sleep. I wanted so badly to go back to bed, but I found myself staying just a little longer.
Because it won’t be long before she doesn’t fit in my arms. And when that time comes, I want her to have as many hours of memories of hugs as I can give her, so that when she is out making her way in the big wide world and I’m not there to make it better, all she has to do is close her eyes and remember.
So. Hang in there, Mama. I know you’re tired, holding sick babies long after your arm has gone numb, opening the third Kleenex box of the day, praying for just a few minutes when someone doesn’t need you for something.
But in the midst of the chaos, don’t forget to stop and appreciate the hidden beauty in these hard moments. Because someday, when your babies aren’t babies anymore and you have whole days and nights to yourself, the memory of holding those little people in the dark might mean more than you can ever imagine.