If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry. Come to think of it, there’s plenty of crying going on already.
Skylar, 2½, came alongside me as I washed dishes yesterday afternoon and tugged on my jeans. “Grandma Midgee? I don’t know what I should do next.”
I looked down at her pleading face and empathized 100%. As our family experiences a second wave of sickness different than the vomiting of recent weeks, none of us knows what to do in any given moment. It’s a sure thing that if we begin something, it’ll be aborted by the need to help someone in distress. So between efforts to calm and comfort, we stand and stare, wondering what to do next.
This time it’s fevers, headaches, coughs and colds. Eight month old Thomas, unhappy and unhealthy, spent time with a pediatrician today in an effort to get help. Was it croup? Bronchitis? Pneumonia? Strep? What was causing him to scream every 40 minutes throughout the night?
We’ve dug out the bulb syringe to aspirate clogged nostrils and administered maximum doses of baby pain relievers. Teething pain compounds crankiness, and babies aren’t the only ones out of sorts. Parents who get no sleep are in their own world of pain, especially if they’re sick, too.
This afternoon, as Hans waited for Katy to nurse Thomas before leaving for the doctor, he poured a cup of coffee. Plopping into a chair, his head dropped in sleep immediately, and the steaming mug began to lean toward his lap. I stood to retrieve it when Katy arrived, and Hans jumped to his feet before he could get even two minutes of rest.
We talked about the prayer of every young parent pleading for a good night’s rest. Despite their petitions, very few get a “yes” from God. Why is this?
One reason could be the nature of hands-on care, often a bonding time between parents and children, although none of us would choose it around the clock. Another reason might be the opportunity to practice servanthood up-close-and-personal. A third could be the forced giving up of rights.
Although these are spiritually relevant rationales as to why God might set up parenthood in this way, such training can become overpowering. The phrase “end of his/her rope” has come up several times at our house today.
And yet these four parents are passionate about helping their crying children. Being sleep-deprived doesn’t lessen their fervency to do right by them, which must be God’s gift, given even while he’s developing sacrificial character within them. I’m thankful they all recognize their children as created by God and sent specifically to them for purposes of eternal value. They are serious about their parenting and will, I am confident, prevail.
Little Thomas won the pediatrician’s heart today with his smiles, even as his eyes watered, his coughing was non-stop and he struggled to breathe. His illness turns out to be a virus that must run its course, but an injection has already helped him with breathing and nursing.
But as Thomas fell into the first solid sleep he’s had in days, his parents nearly giddy with delight, his twin Evelyn began to cough, clog and cry, the next virus victim. Linnea’s family is also under the weather, and all of us are wondering, who’s next?
As for Skylar, she thought of an answer to her question of what to do next. “Grandma Midgee, let’s go upstairs and have a dancing party in the hall!”
“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40)