When my five-year-old daughter is sick, she is all sugar and no spice:
-I am Mama not Mom.
-She tells me things like, “You are my sunshine. You make me happy.”
-She cries when she realizes she can’t spend the night at her Pappy’s and go fishing with her dad, brother, and uncle. She tells me later. “It’s fun with you, too, Mom.” But, I can tell it’s not.
-Whenever I sit, she tries to fit on my lap, her long legs dangling off the sofa.
-When I read my book next to her in bed, she whimpers and cries that she wants Mama. “I’m right here,” I tell her. “Closer,” she whines. I roll toward her, and she presses her hot forehead to my arm. We must be touching constantly.
I record these memories because I want to remember.
I don’t want to necessarily recall all parts of my daughter’s weekend of sickness because it wasn’t all so sweet. There were plenty of moments that I felt resentful. By early Saturday morning, I already had enough of the Disney princesses, and every time I passed a window I wanted to escape outside because it finally felt like spring. I had to cancel a hair appointment, and I also missed my evening of doing something quite rare … simply being kid-free.
There was plenty of grumpiness to go around.
However, each time I looked down at my daughter’s tangle of blonde hair and realized how much she needed me to simply be with her, there was nowhere else I would have rather been.
Her actions throughout the weekend reminded me of how much she needed me as a young toddler. For months, I had to rock her to sleep and sing her no less than four lullabies in a particular order. Her hand was always in mine. She rarely left my lap during parties or events. And, if she did leave my lap? Her arms quickly wrapped around my leg.
Lately, she hasn’t been needing me around as much. Often, she and her brother play on their own for hours. I suggest activities for us all to do together to fill our cold, winter afternoons, but they would rather write one word on twenty-five different pieces of computer paper and deliver them around the house in some sort of pretend game that I’m not invited to.
Mostly, I love this (minus the wasted paper and clean up!). They are bonding and happy, and I am free to use a portion of my day to explore some of my own interests or to catch up on housework.
However, while experiencing my daughter’s fever-induced clinginess, I became a tad nostalgic for those days. Those days when she only needed my presence to sooth her and there weren’t negotiations about screen time or bedtime or how many Shopkins we can purchase.
As much as I enjoy watching her grow and become more independent, I also know the days of me being able to kiss her boo-boos away are soon going to end. I know that she will not always want to sleep snugly pressed against my body. I know that soon it will take more than my presence to make her feel better.
So, this weekend, I chose to shove my grumpiness out the window (into that lovely spring day with the beautiful daffodils blooming and the bird chirping and the … Sigh ….) I chose to simply hold and cuddle my daughter, ignoring the chores, the grocery list, and the notebook full of ideas waiting to be formed into essays.
I chose to slow down and appreciate the now because this wild ride of parenthood is going faster than I ever imagined. In the rush of day-to-day life, I’m hoping that I can remember to do this more often because these small moments of connection are something I will always cherish.
Without the high fevers, of course.