Monday, March 1, 2010

Waiting to Welcome the Familiar

We are entering our third week of sickness around here. It's unusual for anyone in our family to be sick for three days, let alone three weeks. It's growing old. I'm growing quite weary of washing sheets and dealing with middle-of-the-night coughing fits that wake up everyone in the house. I've almost forgotten what it's like to just get up and go about a normal day.

Now that my daughter and I are ever-so-slowly on the mend, my son is battling the worst of it. Last week he had a temperature of 105 for 5 days. On the sixth day, his temp plummeted to 99.5 and he was suddenly covered in a rash all over his torso and thighs. While I was pleased that his fever broke, the rash was concerning. The next morning, the rash had spread to his face and neck. By then the rash had changed from a pin-prick dotty rash to an angry, red, splotchy disaster. It was, quite frankly, startling. The kind of rash that makes you shudder and force you to put on that brave, confident Mama-face. Can't add to my baby's discomfort by looking unsettled and worried myself.

A call to the on-call doctor (why do these illnesses always happen on the weekend??) confirmed what my internet research had led me to suspect: my baby boy had roseola. Fortunately, the rash comes on the tail-end of the illness. Unfortunately, I think the illness has really weakened his immune system. Because this morning, he seems to have the cold/flu/pink eye yuckiness that the rest of us have been fighting. Poor guy can't seem to catch a break.

I realized this morning as I was tucking him into bed, I really miss seeing my boy as his usual self. Of course there are the typical happy things that I long to see again. But I find myself wanting to catch glimpses of odd things that I never thought I'd miss. I would welcome, in a heartbeat, these things:

Other than a few spoonfuls of plain goat's milk yogurt, he hasn't taken a bite to eat in over a week. Usually he eagerly feeds himself and makes an enormous, sticky mess. I would gladly welcome having to clean up the table, the floor, the chair, and my boy's pleased face.

My son hasn't been upright for more than 10 minutes since this illness began. All he does is sleep or lie down for hours, with a distant and glazed look in his eyes. If I've been carrying him around the house and need to set him down for a minute, he silently collapses into a heap on the floor. Just like a rag doll. Yesterday he tried to walk across the room. He wobbled. First to the left, then to the right, and then he fell down. Since the day he was born, this child has never. stopped. moving. Normally he buzzes around the house like the Energizer bunny. If the Energizer bunny carried sticks and rocks and destroyed everything in his path, that is. I would welcome the chance to follow him around the house, cleaning up the piles of rubble left in his wake.

My little boy has been too weak to muster a cry. He whimpers and moans. If words could be put to his little noises, I think they would say, "Mama, help me please." And no matter what I try to do to make him more comfortable, it never seems like I'm doing enough of the right thing. Over the last 20 months, we've gotten accustomed to hearing him scream and cry and throw Oscar-worthy tantrums on a daily basis. He's never been shy about showing emotions, good or bad or otherwise. I would welcome a hearty, ear-splitting temper tantrum right now.

We've tried offering him some of his favorite toys to cheer him. But they fall out of his hands just seconds after we hand them to him. He's quite content to wrap his entire hand around my index finger, just like he did as a newborn. I've spent every day since we moved to this new house, disciplining my son for unplugging the lamps and Daddy's alarm clock from the wall sockets. Usually he sees me coming toward him to take the plug out of his hand and he takes off running. And laughing. And dragging the alarm clock by its cord. Across the wood floors. It completely exasperates me, and he knows it. I would welcome my mischievous monkey's antics today.

I haven't seen my little boy smile at me in 9 days. When he's healthy, I'm gifted with 9 smiles an hour. Often, they are smiles of mischief. But, most frequently, they are smiles paired with little boy hugs. Hugs so tight around my neck that they make me choke. Or hugs so tight around my legs that I can't walk without stumbling. I'm aching to welcome any kind of smile right now.

So, for now, I wish. And pray. And wait to welcome.

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