When Mama is sick

The past three months has dragged by very slowly. Our family has been fighting a bug that has affected everyone, one by one.

You know, the kind that the smallest kid gets and then passes it to two more and then just as we think we’re out of the woods, the one last healthy kid and adults get it too because a little toddler girl doesn’t know better yet except to keep coughing directly in our faces.

Once is hard enough, but this viral bug has gone around, merry-go-round, FOUR times.

There wasn’t a stop button.

It was a bug that it seems just about everyone has caught at some point this season but because our family has so rarely been sick – hardly even the sniffles – this one stretch of three months has been big for us.

You mamas and your little ones down with it now, I just want to say I know how you feel.

Because being sick and sleep deprived yourself when you have to take care of four sick kids and the house and three meals a day, sucks. It really does.

I could type that a few times over.

The months have crawled by with snot-filled, grubby tees and little feverish bodies and in-the-middle-of-the-night tepid baths and sponging cloths and dusty bookshelves and meals you’re glad for simply because they’re cooked, not for their flavours.

Before you know it the world gets so much smaller, filled with all of these things that don’t seem to end and the gaping isolation of quarantines, not being able to meet friends and their kids because you don’t want to pass germs.

But a season like this makes me appreciate so much more the silver lining that shines, of my mother who comes to help with meals twice a week and save the garden from becoming a jungle again.

Of friends who keep loving on me in their own special ways.

Of things that feed my soul and take my mind off being sick, like building a trellis for the vigorous passion fruit vine whose bright green grasping tendrils can’t wait for the fevers and coughs and colds to pass and stretch obliviously upward daily, higher and higher toward the sun, looking for something to climb on.

Yes, the razors in your throat can drive you completely to your knees especially when a sick baby’s been calling out every hour of the night.

You mamas cowering under the bedcovers hoping to stay there a bit longer after “waking up”, I get you. I do.

Cling on to the LOVE of God the Father. Because He is right down there with you in the trenches.

Cling on when the entire day stretches out before you like an unending blanket with the words “Mama, can I have ….”, “laundry”, “cooking”, “dishes”, “floors”, “homeschool”, and “poopy butts” crayoned in bright colours all over it.

Cling on when it feels you’re juggling everyone’s hats and your overworked husband is doing his level best because he’s down sick, too, and can’t but not do overtime on weekends.

Cling on when you feel you’ve gone nuts at some point – a few times.

Cling on and never for one moment believe the lie, “I am in this all alone.”

“I will never leave you, or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Cling on to the HOPE in Jesus. Because He died, and rose again.

That day on which you entertain thoughts of throwing in the towel and going back to work in that carpeted, air-conditioned office without any runny noses or fevers or food crumbs or Legos in it – that day, those days, will pass.

And you can finally deal with the food rotting in the refrigerator.

And clear out the storeroom reeking of dead roaches piled up in the dark corners.

And find the strength to pull out the weeds in the garden and revel in the beauty of the flowering okra plants and pick so much overgrown spinach you will have pots of delicious hot soup to make them with.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)

when mama is sick

Cling on to FAITH in the power of the Holy Spirit. Because His presence makes all the difference in an otherwise bleak day.

How good it is in the midst of it all to feel with body, mind, heart and soul that Jesus the Good Shepherd is carrying you on His shoulder over the thorny brambly bushes through the dark valley to the quiet waters and greener pastures beyond.

How good it is to hear your four year old belt out “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” just as you struggle through the morning routine and as you wonder how you will make it through the day with that congested nose.

He is faithful, always faithful to answer, when you whisper over the pile of dirty dishes – “Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

So whisper along, won’t you?

 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

 

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When Mama isn’t enough

Piglet: Mama, do you love me?

Me: Why yes, Piglet.

Piglet: Are you sure?

Me: Oh yes, with all my heart.

Piglet: Really? Really?

Me: Yes, dear. Really.

Piglet: How much do you love me?

Me: One hundred and ten percent!

Piglet: What’s that?

Me: I love you. One. hundred. and. ten. percent.

Piglet: What does that mean, Mama?

Me: It means, “More than more.”

He pauses. Then smiles. Then runs off to do what four year old boys do best.

That’s right, Piglet. I love you more than more.

 

 

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Like any other four year old, Piglet loves extra cuddles at bedtime.

But every child is different just as no two snowflakes are identical, and when Piglet was only three years old he surprised me with an endearing goodnight greeting as I tucked him in.

It was this:

Piglet (to me): Goodnight, palak paneer.

(Palak paneer is a vegetarian North Indian dish consisting of spinach and paneer in a thick sauce made from puréed spinach and seasoned with garlic, garam masala, and other spices – Wikipedia.)

Me (to him): Goodnight, roti canai.

(Roti canai or roti prata is a type of Indian-influenced flatbread found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore – Wikipedia.)

Needless to say, Piglet was delighted with my response and this special goodnight exchange still features occasionally on some evenings with a few winks thrown in for good measure.

But this week another recurrence of palak paneer and roti canai during our bedtime circuit made me reflect on Piglet’s recent question, “Do you love me?” and our conversation that followed.

It struck me suddenly how my answer was both true and false.

True, because I really do love Piglet more than he can imagine. More and more.

False, because every day I can recount instances in which my love for him has been far from perfect, muddied here and there with the likes of a glare for dilly-dallying over dinner or when my patience is worn thin stretched out by other needs.

And so one morning during our breakfast of oats and cranberries and honey I fessed up to Piglet.

I told him how much I really do TRY to love him one hundred and ten percent but there was no way I could do it perfectly no matter how hard I tried.

He looked at me, not quite comprehending.

So I said again, “Piglet, you know I love you.”

He nodded.

“But I’m like you,” I went on. “I make mistakes. Like the time you spilled the water and I got angry? You know, I wish I didn’t make mistakes. But I do and I always will. You make mistakes, don’t you? But that doesn’t mean you don’t love me, right?”

He got that.

This only-four-year-old got that.

And we got on to talking about what really mattered.

Because what REALLY matters in the big scheme of things is not so much Piglet or me or our failures, but the God Who Is Above It All.

Not that our mistakes don’t matter, but that God can redeem them.

He can help us make it right.

He is a God of second chances.

And you know what, Piglet? God our heavenly Father never makes mistakes.

He will always love you perfectly. One hundred and ten percent perfectly.

I’m trying my level best, Piglet. You don’t know how much it hurts to think of the ways I’ve let you down. But when I’m in that place that makes you feel you can’t make me understand what you need, you can cry to God and ask Him to help me understand.

You can tell Him how mad and sad you feel.

You can always be sure He will do the best for you.

Oh, I’m so glad God is carrying you in His everlasting arms.

He can do what I cannot.

He can go where I cannot go.

His hand is upon you day and night.

He can make all things work together for good for those who love Him.

He will never leave you or forsake you. EVER.

His plans for you are perfect.

Know my God, Piglet.

And walk with Him.

 

“And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

(Piglet: 4yo 4mos.)

 

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