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Maternal Aptitude

December 7, 2011

The illnesses in our household have reached a preposterous and ridiculous level. I’m choosing to laugh or else I’d cry. I’ve gotten to the point that when people inquire about the family, I want to lie and just say everyone’s great. I’m actually embarrassed to give the honest response:

Sick, sick, sick and Yup, Un-huh, Still sick

(It’s important to note here that although yes, we’ve had too many infections, sicknesses, etc, our overall health is good. I recognize that this is a blessing, one not to be taken for granted. I don’t.)

As thoughts of this post have bounded around my groggy head, I have a sense of deja vu. Last winter was filled with a multitude of sicknesses and this winter (not be outdone by the Winter Sickies of 2010-2011) vies to trump last winter.

After the Strep Infestation of 2011 of Thanksgiving, Abby got her umpteen-millionth ear infection and Henry, well….

Friday night, I was just beginning to drift off to sleep. I heard the whimpering through the dark before I knew who it was or what was happening.

Mommy, my throat hurts and mumblejumblebumble.  Whimper, whimper, moan.


Mommy, I threw up in my bed.

I reached out into the dark of  my room and found Henry. With linked hands, we headed down the hall to his room. I cleaned him up, started the laundry (oh the laundry) and set him up to sleep in my room. Our room, with hardwood floors, is much more amenable to late-night cleanup than Henry’s carpeted one.

As the night plodded along, and after many more vomiting bouts, I lay there and watched H, restless and writhing on the floor. He didn’t want to be touched. I urged myself to think of something else I could do for him. But I drew a blank. Instead, as I kept vigil over my youngest, this thought tumbled into focus:

This is love. This is it. And it’s a privilege.

At 6:00 Saturday morning, we went to the Emergency Room because Henry “just couldn’t take it anymore”. Luckily, two hours and a Zofran dose later, we were discharged. (A Murphy’s Law aside: Hubby was out-of-town. These things just happen when one parent is out-of-town. You know what? Murphy and this particular law of his can suck it.)


At a follow-up visit with our pediatrician yesterday, we learned that H not only STILL HAS STREP but that he also has an ear infection. Nagging thoughts dominated my mind:

What am I doing wrong?

How can I prevent this from happening?

Do I need to clean more? 

Do I need to clean with only organic, naturally-derived, non-chemical cleaners?

Or, do I need to only clean with Clorox?

They should eat more healthily.

Maybe we should keep our windows open to freeze out the bastard germs.

Our immune systems need an overhaul.

I reminded myself: kids get sick.  Parents get sick.  Sometimes our immune systems surrender to renegade germs.  I cannot control this.

But surrender is tough.

I find it challenging to surrender to things that are bigger than me. I’ve always thought of surrender as an act of weakness, as something negative. However, much like my lesson in balance, I needed a shift in perspective. Under the layers of vomit and strep, this lesson awaited me:

surrender (/səˈrendər/): Verb. Cease resistance. 

Of course. Much like the wisdom I garnered from Priscilla Warner’s insight-laden memoir, Learning to Breathe, tension occurs when we believe something should be different than it is. Surrender is an acceptance of what is. To stop resisting and lean into it all.

I realized after our ER visit, as I lay with Henry on the couch, that I’d done everything I could. With the weight of a sick, feverish, heavy, sleeping boy atop my chest , clad in rocket jammies, I didn’t yearn to do one other thing. I only wanted to care for Henry. I realized that within that moment lay my lesson. What I accomplished? It was good. Not Herculean, but small and noble and  just right.


Yesterday, I heard Henry singing the Hallelujah Chorus. In his crystal-clear, remarkably in-tune, five-year-old voice, he sang,

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hal-le-lu-jiah

I don’t know where he learned it. I hadn’t played it since last Christmas. But there he was, singing it. He doesn’t really know what Hallelujah means. I believe his lyrical words arrived to deliver a powerful message to me. One of surrender. Of peace. Of accepting, and even praising, what is.


This morning, I filed medical receipts. Just mentally tallying the gross amount of doctor’s visits and prescriptions made my already-groggy head ache. My children have been on so many antibiotics I’ll bet their immune systems are crying Uncle. I stopped and rested my head in my hands, and bowed in surrender. The cool of my desk felt good. New thoughts percolated as I ceased resisting:

Perhaps there’s a different way to do this, a new approach. 

Perhaps it will lead me to a new awareness and discovery.

I am open, I said aloud. Open to a new way.


Have you ever tried holistic healing practices? Did you have success with them? Have you ever tried them with your children? I’d love to hear from you. 

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2011 7:02 am

    Yes, this just happens. Last year Whit had strep and didn’t get over it, and got it again. I found out because he threw up constantly. Two years ago Grace got strep and didn’t get over it, and wound up with mono. As a seven year old. I promise, my friend, you are not doing anything wrong. I really highly recommend probiotics though, and all of us take them every morning – started that last year. Sometimes with ear infections too much dairy can be a trigger … that was true for Grace, years ago. Of course Whit eats almost nothing but dairy and seems fine, but could be worth experimenting with. Sending you all lots of love. xox

  2. December 7, 2011 8:30 am

    Oh ick. I am so sorry for you! You aren’t doing anything wrong – this happens to all of us. Something about the late fall too. Every December (knock on wood) I get a stomach flu and hurl my guts up for 24 hours. 2 weeks ago, Oliver was really sick. I am all for natural remedies but when my kids are sick I take them to the dr. and get whatever medicine is available. Kids have teeny tiny little immune systems. They just get sick.

    Sending you lots of healing and comfort and clean sheets!! xoxo

  3. December 7, 2011 2:02 pm


    Wanted to chime in. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Earlier this year, every single person in my household got ill with some kind of throat, cold, and we were out for two weeks. It happens. Sending healing vibes your way.

  4. December 7, 2011 2:25 pm

    You already had me with this lovely post and then I saw the picture of poor sweet Henry in the very same rocket ship pajamas that my eldest has and tears came to my eyes – for our little ones and their growing immune systems and for us parents as we look for answers and ways to help them. Love to all of you as you battle the germs. xo

  5. December 7, 2011 3:12 pm

    Oh this is so tough, especially when you have to stand by helplessly and watch while they go through the rough patches. But just being there for them like you were, and as you know, helps them through even the worst of it. That’s mama’s magic – you’ve earned it with all those nights (and days) of worrying and battling and wondering and wishing.

    May you all be well soon. {{hugs}}

  6. December 7, 2011 11:49 pm

    I am so sorry you’ve all had such a rough time. I love that Henry found his mantra. And I was so surprised and delighted to be mentioned. Please know that I am with you in spirit. I too am a fan of probiotics, but I don’t know how/if they work for children. I would also urge you to be very careful in monitoring your own health. Months after a lot of strep swept through my household when my kids were young, I developed achy, feverish symptoms that would disappear and resurface. Finally I went to a doctor who noticed I had a streaky tongue and did a strep test. I had strep that went into my system without the dramatic symptoms you’ve described above. You are doing an extraordinary job taking care of your household, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

Give me your grit.

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