Well hello again! It’s been awhile.
Somehow I blinked mid-December and when I came to, I realized it was already a few days into the New Year. Often, the holidays can do this to us…especially moms. Between the cooking, the cleaning, the wrapping, the planning, the preparing…it’s like going on vacation-afterwards, you need a vacation!
As I write today, I have a fevering baby lying on my chest. I’m not completely sure, but I think that we have somehow physically become inseparable within the last week, as if she could not survive apart from being held close to me. But this is the only way she’ll sleep. And when she’s not sleeping, she’s crying, with her hoarse little voice and runny nose. And she has to be tired because as we sit here, we can hear a symphony of coughing all around us. Next door is her 2 year old brother with croup, working hard to get all of that yuck out of him. Behind us are her two older brothers, both with coughs, spiking fevers, and now viral rashes. Despite all the noise and interruption, she is sleeping to the sound of my heartbeat.
It’s been a rough week around here. My husband had 5 days off of work and we were planning on catching up on life and getting ahead. So much for that plan! We are about 10 more steps behind. We’ve taken turns for the last week holding little ones, with very little time spent when no one is in our arms. Our backs hurt, our necks are sore, and we’re just plain tired. We have come up with some crazy meals around here, pulling together anything remotely healthy that we could have on the table between crying spells. And amidst the crying, the coughing, the sneezing, the fevering, and the vomiting, we found out that someone has been running up our credit card. Ah, life. There is a reason for the saying “when it rains, it pours.”
Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, today my husband went back to work. Today the morning’s symphonies of coughing and crying were all for me to enjoy alone. But this morning was a little different-a little more intense.
This morning I bundled all four runny-nosed, goopy eyed little ones and piled them into the van to go to the dr. As we were sitting there, crying and coughing as usual, my two year old tripped and got a bloody nose. No problem. I was holding the crying baby and the crying, bloody toddler when I look over to discover that my 6 year old was swelling up and breaking out into a rash, right there in the waiting room! He started crying because his feet hurt all of the sudden. Hmm…o.k. At least we were in the dr.’s office! I shifted the other two so I could have a free arm to hug him. My 4 year old was quietly watching the fish swim around the tank when, no joke, he went into a coughing fit that literally wouldn’t stop for the next 15 minutes. Ah-we were the picture of health and wholeness! Truth time: in my heart and in my head, there was not a good thought to be found. I love these little guys, but enough was enough. Mommy’s sick too. Does anyone care? Thank goodness my inward grumbling and complaining was interrupted by the nurse calling our name.
Four checkups later, we were on our way to the pharmacy at Target. I dreaded the trip seeing as the dr.’s office wasn’t so easy. The inner dialogue started again: this stinks. I didn’t even have time with my husband during the holidays because of all of this. I haven’t slept in forever. It’s cold. I’m hungry. Gosh, I can spiral downward fast!
For some reason, everyone seemed to be at Target today at 11:00 a.m. I had never had to park so far away! I carried the two younger ones, one on each aching hip, while the other two walked along like little ducklings, braving the cold wind. Two in the cart, two holding onto the sides, we rushed to the pharmacy. While waiting for our prescription, we grabbed another humidifier, some mucinex, more ibuprofen, and some Gatorade. My kids were dragging at this point. My poor baby was leaning sideways in her seat, unable to hold her head up. We paid for everything and were on our way out. I realized at that point that I had not stopped moving since I was awakened early this morning. Exhaustion set in. No, not yet! I still have lunch to make and kids to settle down for a rest! I need a cup of coffee!
It was then I heard this little voice that I love so much. My six year old looked up at me as we were walking out of Target and said, “It’s been a really good day today, hasn’t it Mom?” I looked at him in disbelief. How in the world could this be classified as a good day? I hadn’t had time to even have a glass of water yet. I’m covered in snot. I literally watched him break out into a big swollen mess as I was holding one crying, fevering baby and consoling another sick, nose-bleeding child. I haven’t slept in a week. My house is an absolute mess. We’re almost out of food. I haven’t been able to put the baby down for 7 whole days. But I didn’t say anything. I smiled and said “Well buddy, it could’ve been worse.”
That’s when I had to crawl back into my head and yell at myself. It’s not about you. It’s about love. It’s easy to love when someone is lovable. It’s easy to love your kids when you have a bedtime to look forward to. It’s easy to love your spouse when everyone is rested and there is no crisis to deal with. It’s entirely a different story when you’re being pushed to your limit of sanity! But these little ones are always watching and trying to figure things out. Yes, my dear one, it’s been a really good day because we get to be together.
Here’s the truth: the Stacks had a messy week. But it could be worse. We’re not watching our kids suffer through a hopeless situation. We are not alone. Our bodies will recover. We are blessed by each other and by the home that we have. We are blessed by the amazing wisdom and optimism that exudes from our little ones. We can choose to dwell in that inner dialogue where it’s so easy to see the negative, or we can choose to see the good in our day. We are together. We are rich in love. That’s what it’s all about.
Happy New Year! The Stacks will get better, and then watch out! We are ready for this to be the best year yet! Look for the good in today, love each other, and listen to the little ones in your life!
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew."
-St. Francis de Sales-