Inhaling his scent, hair sweaty from fever-soaked sleep, it was clear that I would be scrapping errands and instead caring for my sick 8-year-old. His sister was home with the flu last week, and as usual, it’s floating through our home despite any attempts at sanitizing every surface, doorknob and light switch.

Secretly I love it when my kids are home sick. Not that I want them to be unwell, but when they are, that’s when they show that they need me. Like most families with school-aged children, we have school, homework, and other activities that keep us busy. Having one or both of them home forces me to center all of my attention on them, and it slows my pace.

I don’t worry about the to-do list. The focus is only on right now. Napping with him in our bed (and all 3 dogs!), reading, or just being still, I get to do it all – guilt free. I get to fuss over them taking their temperature, fetching a glass of water, and rubbing the menthol goo over their chest and back. More than a simple ‘I love you,’ having them home sick gives me a tangible way to show love to my children.

It gives our life a centering pause.

Too soon they will not need me as much, if I’m doing my job correctly. Motherhood is that of slowly working ourselves out of a job as our charges learn to do things for themselves, everyday becoming just a bit more independent. Eight years has gone by like a blink. I can only surmise that the next 8 will go by just as quickly, if not faster.

For today, I’m taking this gift of time with my sick child. I breathe into his hair again, caressing his flushed cheek.

“I love you, mom,” he whispers in a cracked, weak voice.

“I love you, too, kiddo.”


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