“My tummy hurts.”

Ugh. I don’t have time for you to be sick, I thought. I felt her forehead. Uh oh, a fever. I sent her off to bed, mentally reviewing all the things I had hoped to accomplish tomorrow. In the middle of the night, she was climbing into bed with me, bowl in hand just in case. It was a long, mostly-sleepless night.

As a single mom, there is no back-up plan for when my kid is sick. The older ones can stay home alone at least some of the day, unless they are really sick. The youngest isn’t quite there yet. For many single moms this is a nightmare as they try to balance work and home life in a precarious tension. I am thankful my job has flexibility. But still, there are things I had planned for this day. Things that will most likely not happen as I try to care for the youngest of my minions.

As I started to reorganize my plans, a thought occurred to me: isn’t this my job? Isn’t caring for and raising this amazing human with love and tenderness the first thing on my to-do list every day? Taking care of her isn’t something else on the list—it tops the list. In fact, it’s the reason for most of what’s on the list.

Motherhood is a calling and a vocation. We may not get money for it but it is a job we sign up for that takes precedence over every other job we choose to do. And the time when they need us is so small in the scope of our lives.

As I watched her climb into my bed in the middle of the night, I couldn’t help but think of her brother, 13 hours and several states away at college. The time when he needed me to care for him on a sick day seems like only yesterday. Now if he gets ill, I can’t bring him soup or popsicles. I miss that.

So today I will remember these two things:

Caring for my kids is more important than other things on my to-do list. Everything else will require creativity to fit around this. What moms do or don’t do affects our kids their whole lives. Choosing to serve them with love when they are vulnerable instead of being upset about my messed up plans, demonstrates to them my love and that they are a priority.

The time when I get to care for my kids is short. It’s been said the days are long but the years are short. That comment used to make me roll my exhausted eyes but with one already off on his own, I fully appreciate it now.

So today will require creativity in my to-do list. It will require extra tea to compensate for lack of restful sleep. But it will also require snuggles and chicken noodle soup and maybe a quick run to the store for popsicles.

Today I will focus on this as part of the job I signed up for when I prayed that God would let me be a mama. I’m thankful every day for the blessing these kids bring into my world. An occasional upset from time to time is just part of the crazy, unpredictable package of motherhood.

What’s one thing that helps you adjust to the unexpected of a kid’s sick day? Share in the comments.

 

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