I’ve been told I think too much. Honestly, I’ve been told that somewhat regularly and I cannot deny it. Lately, I’ve found that I’ve been thinking, contemplating and pondering things far more often than usual. Too much free time? Not so much, just many concerns weighing on my heart lately.
I have the awesome privilege of being a mom to two incredible boys, Creed who is eleven, and Traben who is nine (though he thinks he’s much wiser than his youthful age would have you believe). Being a parent, it goes without saying, is an incredible job. Rewarding, inspiring, taxing and tiring, it’s a job that never ends. It’s a constant learning experience and a constant trial. Though parenting is truly a constant source of joy, it can honestly be a constant challenge and a constant source of worry; how will I ever get this right?
I often find myself thinking about what I’ve done as a parent, what I could’ve done differently, better, or maybe should not have done at all. I find myself thinking about what I should do, or could do, or should never consider doing. I find myself always thinking, concerned, though trying not to worry, but definitely in constant wonder of the one question that I cannot answer: will my boys grow up and turn out okay?
Sometimes the most unexpected moments deliver the best answers in life.
Around 1am on Monday morning, I awoke to the sound of feet rushing to the bathroom. Over the years this has become a sound I’ve learned to dread; typical midnight bathroom trips don’t have so much urgency in their stride. The kid that’s running is sick, I sleepily told myself. I quickly jumped out of bed and followed the footsteps to the bathroom where I found my youngest, Traben, sick at the toilet. He handles sickness with such dignity; it’s something that constantly surprises me, though it shouldn’t. He always treats illness as a task he has to deal with, a job, then he’s done. Such a man, that nine-year old is. He rid himself of all the yuck that was upsetting his stomach then let me console him.
“I’m sorry your tummy isn’t feeling good, it was probably something you ate,” I told him as he finally stopped throwing up. He agreed, and began to tell me what part of dinner he thought was the actual catalyst to the sickness.
He settled on the couch next to me, still discussing theories, but it wasn’t much longer before we were returning to the bathroom for another session of unpleasantness. It wasn’t much later, in the 2 o’clock hour, when we were joined by his brother, Creed, and boy he was ill, too. I consoled him as best as I could, trying to ignore the ever-present quiver in my own stomach. I assured him he, too, would be okay. I told him what a bummer I thought it was that both he and his brother were sick. Traben came to the bathroom door to offer moral support to his brother, assuring him he’d survived, so he knew Creed would eventually be okay, too. This little encouragement made my heart happy; to see their kindness in such an icky moment was wonderful and unexpected. As Creed was finally able to take a break from his place in front of the porcelain throne, I helped him wash his face, and tried to console him again in his misery.
But my consolations were abruptly cut short.
I quickly nudged him to the side, saying a mumbled, “Sorry, ‘scuse me” as I dropped to my knees in front of the toilet. I couldn’t help but think as I began to unload the contents of my own stomach that I wished I could spare my boys the sight. While this was happening, I couldn’t help but wish I’d had half a minute more warning and I could’ve cleared them out of the bathroom, away from my sickness, away from what I wanted to shield them from; all that is gross and unlovely in the world.
But if I’d had my way, the way of my initial instincts, I would’ve missed out on a truly priceless moment. As I heaved, undoubtedly with less grace than my nine-year old, I felt a hand reach out and start rubbing my back. It was clammy, it was shaky, and I knew it was that of my son, Creed, who now sat on the side of the tub, still lacking strength from so recently being sick himself. “It’s okay mom, you’ll be okay,” his quiet voice assured me. And as he was still speaking, I could feel a second hand reach out and start rubbing my back. Having quickly entered the bathroom at the sight of my distress, not running from it, Traben had joined Creed in reassuring me I was going to be okay.
Later in the day I found out it wasn’t something I cooked for dinner the previous night that caused our entire family to be sick (my husband awoke ill, as well), it was some highly contagious virus. There is speculation from the health department that this epidemic is caused by some type of Noro-virus. Did I just say health department? Yes, they became involved, as more than 90 people became sick from this bug after an event this weekend, and unfortunately the numbers haven’t finished climbing. Honestly, I still feel miserable, at least physically. While my husband, Todd, and my son Traben are feeling much better, I’m not better yet and neither is Creed. But I know, as the boys both told me in the early hours of Monday morning, we will be okay.
To have felt their compassion and love in action, to witness my boys in their own discomfort selflessly comfort me…It’s hard to put into words how overwhelming that moment was. It put my mind at ease. I can find peace of mind and comfort in knowing that, if they can choose to step out and comfort their retching mom at two in the morning, there probably isn’t much they can’t do.