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The Upside of the Plague

February 11, 2014

We have been sick for approximately 80% of 2014.

In my previous post, I said I could handle sick kids: snot, crabbitude, etc.  The past two days made me retract that statement.  I railed against my powerlessness, the fact that I (again? still?) cannot find things in my own house, that I am sick of being sick.  Sick of kids who have limited patience or coping skills.  Sick of my own limited patience.  Sick of not being in control of All the Things.

So the upside of the plague followed by another virus is this:  I have been in survival mode.  Not worrying about anything other than meeting minimum requirements: keeping my family fed and clothed in (mostly) clean attire.

Not doing massive projects.  Like, you know, folding laundry and putting it away.  Or bringing food to friends with newborns, or finishing those baby albums, or whatever.

Surviving was the only thing I could muster when Theresa was so sick, all she could do was curl up on my chest and wheeze, eyes closed and body limp.  Surviving was the most we could handle through a week-long hitting phase and a strong resurgence of the anti-diaper-off anxiety.  The to-do list was minimized, a blip at the bottom of my screen.

And it occurred to me that this maybe was not a bad thing.

We got better for a week.  Alan traveled for work, and I became a cleaning-and-organizing dervish.  I accomplished tasks that had been on the back burner for years.  It felt so good.

And then we were back to survival mode with another cold, and I was so frustrated.

Because I want to be in control.  I want to be the pigeon driving the bus.  I want to be productive and efficient and task-accomplishing.

But being those things don’t make me me.  The love and nurturing and patience I have shown to my children and my students do.  And those have nothing to do with being in control, and everything to do with surrender.  Not in a weak, white-flag-waving, quitter sort of way, but in a real, true, I-need-to-let-You-be-in-charge sort of way.

Tonight I finally found our baby nail clipper (after buying a new substandard one because I needed to trim kids’ nails and couldn’t turn my house any more upside down to find it), and was telling Alan about how I hate losing things, etc. etc.

Audrey put her hand on my leg and said, “Don’t be frustrated, Mama.”

I stopped cold in my rant.

“Don’t talk,” she said.  I knelt down to listen to her.  She stared at me with those green eyes that mirror mine.  “Just be quiet,” she said.

And turned to continue sweeping up around her baby’s “car seat” with her toy broom.

Just be quiet.  Don’t talk.  Just listen to the stillness, the shard of the greater Stillness and Peace.

My daughter, with her old soul of gentleness and generosity and ability to respond to others’ emotions, told me exactly what this experience of the plague has been trying to.

That lesson the universe keeps trying to teach me, and that I, like some of my well-intentioned students, keep saying, “Yep, got that. Ready to move on to the next thing” but really I need to learn it over and over and over.

Slow down.  Take your time.  Be quiet.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2014 9:20 pm

    Every day they get older. . . new, different if not better phase on it’s way. . .

  2. February 18, 2014 2:13 am

    Reading the above removes ANY doubt Audrey is her mother’s daughter! Such sensitivity, compassion, other-awareness, and verbal aptitude are not novel concepts in your home! How lovely your children can already mirror back what you teach Michelle 🙂

  3. Mary Jane Mulholland permalink
    February 12, 2014 6:01 am

    Love this post, Michelle. What a beautiful little angel you have in Audrey. Hope you all are feeling better soon. 🌷

  4. Neal & BJ permalink
    February 12, 2014 5:56 am

    This one made me cry . . . out of the mouths of babes! I think this illustrates perfectly the line in the song “the nearest thing to heaven is a child.” Beautiful!

  5. Angela G. permalink
    February 11, 2014 11:06 pm

    Absolutely love this post. The way you described Audrey reminded me of our late night feedings together. I can’t explain it, but I sensed that same type of sensitivity in her even then. Enjoy the stillness. I’ll try to do the same. 🙂

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