I noticed that Julianna was getting warm last night. I have to confess, one of my major parenting fails is an inability to take my child’s temperature. Thermometers just don’t seem to last in my house, I don’t know why. And even when I can find one, it always reads some implausible temp – like 97.3 when the child is clearly burning up with fever. So while I can tell you with some certainty that she was definitely running a temp, I can’t tell you how high it was. Suffice it to say that it was a fever.
Sam, my second child, is prone to fever. He’ll run one more often than the girls combined, not that he seems to get sick more often, just that if he’s going to get sick, there’s going to be a fever. But my girls tend not to have them. In fact, other than Jessie’s tendency towards ear infections as an infant/small toddler, none of my kids tend to get sick all that often. Garden variety colds, rarely serious enough to require a trip to the doctor, and even less often, throwing up. But Julie, this morning, was definitely sick.
She was super clingy, in a way that made me realize how UN-clingy she is most of the time. She and I are home alone during the day, and often times, we’re doing our own thing. I’m cooking or cleaning or puttering around the house, and she’s building blocks, going thru her siblings’ things while they aren’t here to yell at her (always a favorite activity) or coloring, watching television, etc. She’s busy during the day, not much for just sitting and cuddling anymore. But today – all she wanted was me. And other than the fever, she didn’t really seem all that sick. No runny nose, no coughing, no fussing. She wasn’t complaining at all, she was just sitting with me. She’s still little enough so that we can sit together on the chair, I curl my legs up underneath me and she fits perfectly in the little spot next to me. And we sat and hung out all morning. I finished a book and started another – and she watched a ridiculous amount of Disney and Noggin television shows. Nursed a lot – which she’s really cut down on up until this point. We’re down to just nursing for bed and naps – but this morning, she seemed to want to nurse a lot. She pushed away the toast I offered and refused the offer of cereal or anything else.
Then she asked for leftover shepherd’s pie. Which was a huge mistake. Because the first bite was immediately followed by her vomiting all over me. She was horrified, and sobbing and I was covered in puke and completely taken by surprise. I cleaned her and myself up, and then we resumed our sitting. Nursing. Napping. She brightened up briefly when her brother came home from school, but once he left for boy scouts, she immediately asked to lay down again. I snuggled her up again, smoothing back her curls and feeling her hot, hot skin. Thank goodness she’s still nursing, because I know she’s not dehydrated, and she can definitely keep that down.
But I’m extra grateful today because I’m at home with her. There was nothing else I needed to do today – everything could wait. Because my baby was sick, and the only thing she wanted was me. To sit beside me, not doing anything other than being together. Those days are rare, and she’s my little baby. It’s been a while since we could just sit and be. Granted, it’s a lot more fun when she’s not feverish and feeling crappy, but there was a beauty to it today that I couldn’t help recognizing. Being a stay at home parent isn’t always fun and easy, often (like most things) it can be monotonous and it feels like shoveling in the middle of a snowstorm, hard work that immediately negated by the fact that you have to do it all over again. But today – today, I accomplished something in a way that nobody else could have. If I wasn’t there, and her dad was, or her grandmother or any of the other adults in her life was, they could have cared for her, but it wouldn’t have been as easy for them. Because Julie just wanted exactly what she had, me there, sitting beside, kissing her forehead and rubbing her back.
I’m sure if this sickness makes the rounds thru the house, and I’m spending day after day with a sick kid and cleaning vomit up for weeks on end (which happened notably last spring), I won’t be as philosophical and grateful. But just for today, I’m glad for the small blessings that we get, even in the midst of vomit and upset bellies – when I can make a feverish girl smile and feel better with just a kiss and a snuggle.