Thursday, February 18, 2010

Doing versus Being

Just before midnight Monday night, my daughter woke up crying. She was clammy and very hot. She had a temperature of 105 degrees and complaining of stomach pains. Naturally, my mind jumped to thoughts of appendicitis. Since we just moved here, we had yet to find an urgent care center near us. There are veterinary clinics aplenty, but nary a clinic to be found for the human patient. Mama-panic set in and I found myself feeling as sick as my sweet girl. What were we to do? I gave her some homeopathics and tried to make her as comfortable as possible.

Here we are 3 days later, and while it turned out not to be appendicitis, my daughter is still feeling miserable. All she wants to do is be held by me and cuddle. It got me to thinking about how I tend to operate when one of my children is sick. It seems I throw myself head-long into "doing" for my child: administer medicine, encourage fluids, wash germy bed linens, scour the internet and my alternative health books for advice, make meals and soups (for which my daughter has no appetite for anyway). Do. Do. Do.

Yet what seems to be the best medicine for my daughter has nothing to do with what I do. No matter what the illness, my children seem to benefit most from my just "be"-ing. Be there to cuddle and read on the couch. Be there to nod sympathetically when my daughter cries that she just doesn't know what she needs or wants. Be silent and stop barraging her with questions like, "How do you feel? Where does it hurt? What do you feel like eating?" Be still. Be patient. Be gentle. Be. Be. Be.

It's so hard to see the ones we love suffering. I think we feel compelled to take action. The sooner we attack the problem, the sooner we'll see results. While there is certainly some truth to this (obviously, I'm not saying we should forgo administering medicine or avoid consulting a doctor if needed), I think the benefits of undivided attention and unlimited doses of hugs and kisses are underrated. I wrote about this very thing last year. I guess in my anxiety and panic, I forgot to apply my own advice and insight. So, I've spent the majority of the last few days holding my four-year-old baby in my arms. I'm ignoring the impulse to get up and "do" more. For now, we're going to revel in just "be"ing together.

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