My ten-month-old was sick this entire past week. What began as a cold turned into a double ear infection with antibiotic-induced diarrhea, and then she rounded it out by catching roseola complete with high fever and horrible rash. To add insult to injury, she’s also cutting two teeth. The sleep was non-existent, the showering was sporadic, and she wouldn’t let me put her down even to use the bathroom, let alone to fix my other two kids a meal.
By Thursday I was a shell of myself. During one of the midnight wake ups, I lay down to nurse her and after latching for a few seconds, she popped off and puked all over both of us. There was nothing to be done but bathe us both so I sat in the bath with her and soaped up her feverish little body. I sang to her to try to keep her from screaming and waking my other kids as I sponged the vomit out of her downy hair. And when we were finally both cleaned and redressed, I snuggled her into my bed and lay with her on my chest to calm her breathing.
And I surprised myself by suddenly thinking, “I’m going to miss this.” Snuggling that warm, baby shampoo scented weight against me, I thought about what an honor it is to be her mom.
Motherhood is hard, so so hard, in ways you don’t need me to enumerate. But it can also be sacred and refining. A favorite author of mine, Rob Bell, speaks about soap carvings as an analogy for the trials we go through reshaping us and adding to our beauty. The figure was there all along in the bar of soap but it had to be whittled down to be uncovered.
Weeks like the one I just had are shaping me into a better person. They leave me raw and exposed but also teach me to be present in the moment because it’s the only one I have. Even in the most trying times, it is a privilege to be my children’s primary source of comfort and solace. The years that I am able to make everything better just by snuggling them to my chest are fleeting.