So, my oldest child has been sick for the past couple of days. Nothing too uncomfortable or unpleasant–some coughing and a temp that hovered between 100 and 101 degrees for much of the past 48 hours–but enough to keep her home from school yesterday and today. And to keep me home with her. And having been home with her for these two days now, I’m struck by how differently I’m feeling tonight than I would have been feeling a year or so ago….
Before this fatigue became my long-term companion, when I was living the full and busy life that I used to live, I would secretly feel a little bummed when I had to stay home with a sick child because it meant that I would have to cancel whatever plans I’d made for that day! That might have been volunteering in the classroom, having coffee with a friend, making a quick trip to Walmart with a friend, or even just going for a walk (yes, most likely with a friend!). But when one of my children became sick, my sick child and I would be housebound together. For the duration. Until he/she was healthy again, at which point I would feel tremendous gratitude. First and foremost, gratitude that my child was feeling better…but also gratitude that he/she could return to school so that–and yes, more gratitude–I could return to my busy life, full of friends and outings and activities! So much gratitude. 🙂
That was then. What about now?
Well, I guess I still have some mixed feelings, still experience a silent twinge of “Ohhh, there go my plans for the day…” when I see that thermometer reading of 100.8 degrees at 7:00 in the morning. But it’s different because my plans for the day, now, by and large, are things like washing the dishes…going to the grocery store…reading a chapter in a book…doing some writing on my blog(!)…doing a little weeding, perhaps…and taking a nap. For sure, taking a nap. All things that I can do quietly and by myself…. Most days I do still try to go for a walk with a friend, and some days I do still have coffee with a friend, but much of what I do the rest of the time, now, while the kids are at school, is done by myself, without having to interact much with others. And not necessarily by choice. But that continues to be how I need it to be. And, well, having a sick child at home means I am not by myself(!) and forces quite a bit of interaction! Much of the day! In this case, much of the past two days! And considering that I hardly left the house during that time, or “did” much here or anywhere, I am exhausted!! No, I am not complaining about “having to” spend time with my child, nor am I lamenting that she needs my care (and wants my companionship!). In fact, I am grateful to be able to take care of her, and even more, that at twelve years old she still wants me to come and sit with her on the couch! I am simply recognizing that having upped my number of “all-day interaction partners” from “none” to “one”, wow, I am beat….!
The plan at the moment, assuming the feeling-better/temperature-falling trend continues overnight and into the morning, is for my daughter to return to school tomorrow. And when that happens, whether tomorrow or another day, I will again feel deep gratitude. First and foremost, still, gratitude that my child is feeling better…but also gratitude because that will mean she can return to school, which will mean that I can–gratefully–return to my quiet life, full of solitude, solitary activities, and plenty of rest. With the occasional walk and cup of coffee with a friend, of course. 🙂
Still much gratitude….but not for a return to the the fullness of life marked by time spent with many friends and in a whirlwind of activities, but rather for a return to the “fullness” of life marked by time spent with a few friends and in the quietness and stillness of solitude….
That was then. This is now. So very different in some ways; not so much, I guess, in others. At least they are both marked by much gratitude. 🙂