We're on day five of an unidentified plague in my house. The past four nights have been sleepless for several unpleasant reasons. Night one: an unrelenting croup-like cough. Night two: a few rounds of throw up. Night three: a dangerously high fever. Night four: a sick symphony of sneezing, sniffling, coughing, nausea and fever. I helplessly listened to the crescendo of cold season at 3:37 a.m.
Of course I am exhausted. I could start complaining about how much my overtired eyes hurt to be open in a fog of Lysol, or how seriously done I am with never-ending laundry, or how hard it is to convince a toddler born with what has to be a natural form of speed that he has to rest. You would forgive me for a expletive laced rant at this point, right?
But I am not going to b*tch. All I am feeling today is gratitude. Here are seven reasons why:
1. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers. After my son tested negative for the flu, we were sent to the hospital for a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. He was given a bag of goodies to choose from afterwards for being so brave, settling on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Legos. The gifts were given by a grandmother who spends most of her time by her grandson's side as he fights a terminal illness in that very hospital.
2. I am grateful for my beloved child's health. I understand how lucky I am that my 4-year-old son was nervous about having an X-ray. He's never had one before. There are other children who have had many X-rays, treatments, surgeries and procedures. Some kids live in hospitals; we only visited. All I could think of were the kids who don't get to leave.
3. I am grateful for the sabbatical. Sure, this nasty virus turned my life upside down. Appointments were cancelled. Work was put on hold. Some chores were ignored. I focused only on my child. What an incredible gift.
4. I am grateful I let the rules slide. Eating in bed, iPad binges, and lots of "bubbly" (my son's code for Ginger Ale) were allowed. After days of barely eating, he had a craving for a pizza delivery. I ordered it knowing he would only eat a slice. We rented lots of movies (to hell with my overpriced cable bill). We drank our favorite tea (Teavana's Raspberry Balsamico/Limemade Twist which, serendipitously, was on sale this week) in the wee hours of the morning. Makeshift forts were not broken down. All of our rule-breaking was actually fun.
5. I am grateful for my dog. I rescued a mistreated shih tzu from Arkansas six months ago. She's had her moments -- pooping on the rug, chewing toys, barking precisely as my son is about to fall asleep -- but, wow, is she a little love. She hasn't left my son's side during his illness. Like my little boy, she has given me more than I will ever give her.
6. I am grateful for my mom. How lucky was I to have her when I was sick as a child? She was always there with a cold compress or a warm hug. I believed her when she told me I would get better. She would do anything to stop my tears with a laugh. Even though she is no longer here -- I lost her more than one year ago to ovarian cancer -- I see her in me, especially now. Last night, I pretended I was a prima ballerina. I felt the spirit of my beautiful mommy as I (pathetically) twirled around our living room to make my son giggle.
7. I am grateful I am a mom. My son wants me when he is sick. He knows I will do anything and everything to make him well. He wants me to pick him up and carry him upstairs to bed. He loves kisses on his forehead when he has a fever. He trusts me when I tell him a steamy shower will help his cough in the middle of the night. He looks up at me for reassurance when he misses the toilet. It's okay, sweet boy.
And, oh, how I adore the cuddle time. The sick clinginess reminds me of when he was a baby. He wants to nestle right beside me, caress my hair and give me bear hugs for comfort. He believes in his mommy. He knows I am here to take care of him, to love him, to encourage him. He trusts me when I tell him he won't always be sick. I promise you will get better, sweet boy.
I am grateful to be needed, wanted and loved by my child. I am grateful I have a child to take care of. I am grateful my son will get better. I am truly grateful. I will always love you, sweet boy.