My eight-year-old, Hannah, stayed home from school today. This put a bit of a wrench in my plans, and I may have gotten a little whiny about it, if only inside my head. This morning, as I pressed the back of my hand against my daughter’s forehead to see if she was feverish, I mentally ticked off a list of all of the things I wouldn’t be able to do with a sick kid at home.
I forgot to think about how fortunate I am to work from home, so that I wasn’t left scrambling.
I forgot to be relieved that she wasn’t even all that sick.
I forgot how rarely I get to spend time with just one of my kids anymore, now that they’re both at the same school.
Sometimes we all suffer from first-world problems – or at least those of us in the first world do. What makes them first world problems is that we’re more focused on the minor inconveniences than on the bigger picture. I can accept that I am no different.Fortunately, as the day wore on I got a grip on myself. Hannah and I watched a movie together that her brother is too young for. We ate lunch that her brother doesn’t like. She worked on an art project, and watched too much TV. I got my work done. It was all okay.
In the middle of the afternoon, just before we left the house to pick up her brother from school and just after I gave her another dose of Children’s Advil, I looked down at my daughter She was paler than usual, which isn’t surprising. Her eyes looked especially large in her tired face. Her brow was slightly furrowed with mild anxiety, of the kind I feel myself when I’m sick. In that moment, she didn’t look her age. She looked like my baby.
In my life, I will have plenty more work days. I will spend more and more time on my own, without either of my children with me. I will be less and less responsible for my children’s care with each passing day. Today, however, my baby needed me. She really needed me, just to be there, just to provide her the reassurance that only her mother can give her. She needed my hand on her forehead, checking her. She needed me to tell her I would take care of her, and she would be okay.
Of course, she will be. Of course, I will be, too.
Today, my to-do list had to take a backseat to my sick baby. I had sacred duties to fulfill. There’s nowhere else I would rather have been.
And tonight … ah, tonight. Tonight there will be an early bedtime for my kids, and a couple of glasses of wine for me. I think I’ve earned them.