Everyone needs me right now. 

The middle one has a cough. My husband wants a date night. The baby wants to nurse. Always, always, wanting to nurse. Husband, baby, and I go out. Older two stay home. Half of them get half of me. 

The football game is on. My husband made a dinner I’d very much like to enjoy. Oldest wants to play catch. Baby wants to nurse. Always, always wanting to nurse. Middle one spikes a fever. I call the doctor, miss the end of the game. Everyone gets a fourth of me. 

My husband is back at work. Middle one can’t stop coughing. Oldest wants me to read him a story. Their grandma stops by to help. I have a doctor’s appointment and baby comes, too. She and I—we each get half of me. 

Middle one won’t eat or drink; his fever returns. The doctor can squeeze us in. The oldest ate his dinner, baby drank her milk. Grandma can watch the kids. Husband can take middle to the doctor. No one needs me. But I need to be with him. 

We come home, his nose bleeding from the lab test. Oldest falls and hits his chin. Baby wants to nurse again. Always, always wanting to nurse. Much too late, we all fall asleep. 

Baby wakes up crying. Middle wakes up too. My husband and I tag team. In the morning the oldest will cry and ask why he didn’t get any snuggles in the middle of the night. I wonder if I will ever be just me again. 

The nurse calls the next morning. He has two viruses, she explains. No wonder he’s so sick. Don’t let the baby get it. Middle one falls asleep in my lap as I read him a story, rooting me to the ground. My oldest wants to play. Baby cries for her pacifier. I can feel the germs crawling on my hands. I can’t reach it anyway. They each get a third of me. 

There’s not much of me left. 

But they can have all my faith. All my blind trust, all my lack of understanding. 

They can have all my hope, all my belief that everything will get better soon. 

They can have all my love. 

I, in turn, will take whatever grace there is on offer. I will take it for the times I made the wrong call, for the times I lost my patience. I will take it for the times I let fear and anxiety overwhelm me. I will take it for the times I wished I was anywhere but here, dividing myself into smaller and smaller pieces. 

And the grace will make me whole again. 

Jackie Semmens

Jackie Semmens is a writer by nature and a mother by nature. She has two boys and is willing to chase them all over the hills of Montana in order to get them to nap.