Her Bad Mother

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hold Me, Now

Wonderbaby is sick. Not in any terrible, life-threatening way - she has a bad infection of the tonsils that probably is or involves strep throat - but in a fully mother-alarming way. She's simply never been sick like this, sick to the point where she spends much of the day slumped and lethargic and glassy-eyed. When she had chickenpox, she bounced off the walls. When she's had flu, she continued to practice her bookshelf base-jumping. Even when she was 11 weeks old and had a mysterious fever that propelled us into the ER at the Hospital for Sick Children, she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and boisterous to the point of freaking out the paediatric surgeon (there can't be anything too seriously wrong with an infant this lively, ma'am.)

But this time, she's sick. She tries to rally - the medicines ease her discomfort a little and she tries to summon the energy to leap from sofa to coffee table and back again - but her little body just isn't up for it, and she falls. And then she gets angry and upset and the combination of her frustration and the pain overwhelm her and she cries and cries and cries and then curls up into a tired little ball and MY. HEART. BREAKS.

I've spent a lot of time holding her, these last few days. She's ordinarily not a cuddler - she usually vibrates with energy until the very moment of falling asleep, and can't be bothered to stop for a snuggle unless she's stopped short, momentarily, by a boo-boo or a fit of temper or tears - and so it feels precious, this collection of moments during which she curls her feverish little body into mine and settles there, a baby, my baby, seeking comfort and safety and love. But it's a bittersweet kind of precious, precisely because she's seeking those things as an escape from her pain and exhaustion. I miss the hastily-proffered hugs and kisses, the drive-by snuggles that she dispenses like so many favors - because Mommy asks for them, needs them - during the frenzy of her go-speed-racer day. I miss them, even if they are not so prolonged and intense as these comfort-seeking huddles, because they are so uniquely hers. They are how she expresses her love, her fierce, intense love - in rapid, passionate doses. The head bent for a kiss as she speeds past me in the hallway, the sudden, spontaneous grasp of my leg or arm as she leaps out from behind the door, shrieking boo!, the rapidfire loveyoummommybyemommyloveyoubye as she races out the door, with Daddy, to school - these are her. These are the expressions of love of my Wonderbaby.

And yet, and yet... there is something that I'm loving - guiltily loving - about the solemn quiet that has descended upon our little nest. She lets me hold her until I'm too tired to hold her any longer; she cuddles up against me and falls asleep with her head against my chest and I can feel my breathing slow and my sighs deepen as I let myself feel needed, really needed, as a mother, as Mommy, in a visceral way that I haven't felt for more months than I can count on all my fingers and toes.

And then I feel guilty, for feeling anything other than distress at her weakness. And the silence, then, is deafening, as I kiss her hot cheek and wipe back the damp strands of hair from her forehead and wish, with all my heart, for my little speed-racer-rebel-angel to come back to normal, to come back to me.

And then run away, again, as she always does, and always will.

41 Comments:

Blogger slouching mom said...

yes. i know this.

it's the way ben's been for the better part of two weeks spent battling pneumonia.

they're docile, and pliant, and it's nice, but it's awful, too.

xxoo

10:13 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

Oh, I hope that WB is soon back to bouncing off the the furniture and doing her drive-by lovin'! Meanwhile, maybe it's the universes way of giving the two of you some snuggle time before Wonder Sprout arrives? Yeah, yeah...that's it! (Well, I tried...)

10:22 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Our last illness around here brought me exactly these feelings.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous whoorl said...

Oh, this breaks my heart! Yet, I totally understand where you are coming from, given Wito does not slow down for one second. I can't imagine what it would feel like to actually hold him.

Hoping Wonderbaby is back to her base-jumping behavior soon!

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ya have me all freaked that my daught has strep with her up and down fever from 99-102 and her fingers in her mouth, and not wanting to be put down.....even though 3 teeth appeared and i think that is the culprit....but i did spend the greater part of an hour looking up strep in case!!
ha
hopes she is better soon. enjoy the cuddles for now

10:32 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

I know what you mean. The last time Nicky was sick he was running a 102 fever but he was totally letting me hold him as he rested. It's always so wonderful to hold him, but normally he's so busy he won't let me snuggle him.

I hope she feels better soon. Poor baby. I'm guessing they ruled out mono right? I know that mono kicked my ass for weeks when I was a teenager.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have those same thoughts when my kids are sick. It stinks that they're feeling bad, but I sort of enjoy the cuddling, the way life slows down. There's nothing to do but take care of one another.

Yeah, I get it.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

this post reminded me why i fell in love with your writing almost two years ago. so beautiful.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Poor baby. Those cuddles are so precious. I hope she feels better soon!

3:15 AM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

The Boy was like that every time he got an ear infection. It feels wrong to enjoy the cuddling, but there it is.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

My mom worked full time and there were four kids in our house. Often the only times I could get her to slow down and cuddle with me were when I was really sick. I still treasure those memories and how soft and cool her hand felt on my forehead.

Thought the other perspective might help ease some of the guilt. :) Hoping Wonderbaby feels better soon.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

My son was sick yesterday, and it was a terrible feeling to have him cuddle so ferociously, his limp body folded against my strong one. I loved the hugs, but I wanted him to be up and racing around again.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Jezer said...

Get well soon, WonderBaby.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh - this is part of their growing up. She's reached the age where she knows she is sick and gets grump and down right PO'ed about it. Mine would go from trying to bounce as norm, to PO'ed, to grumpy to clingy. By the end of the weekend, I was exhausted from carrying her all weekend long.... don't feel guilty - cherish the hugs and neediness as it won't last and you won't see it again until she's feeling awful again.... Just wait til it's 2 of them wanting you to hold'em and make'em better...

Wystful

8:41 AM  
Blogger iheartchocolate said...

I know just what you mean. Lovely post!

9:02 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

I feel exactly the same way but you have expressed it more beautifully than I could have...

9:57 AM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

yes, we all know this feeling. we get to be Real Mothers, don't we. Tending to our young, and holding them closely until they fall asleep. No wriggling away, no demanding to be entertained, just docile and needing.

Our base maternal instinct (lest we be concerned we don't really have it) kicks right in.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

get well soon, wonderbaby!

our latest round of ear infections brought the need to be held, a true rarity in this household. i cherish it and loathe it at the same time. if only the cuddles and rocking were under different circumstances...

*sigh*

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

get better soon wonderbaby.and enjoy those Quiet cuddles while they last.its sad to see them so tired and lethargic....but it will be so wonderful when she gets the spark back in her eyes...LAVANDULA

11:15 AM  
Blogger Jozet at Halushki said...

Poor Wonderbaby. I hope she's feeling better soon.

We, too, had a rough February. But I will admit...there were moments when the baby would let me cuddle with him that I really soaked in all that cuddling.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I hope that sweet girl feels better soon. But for the sake of cuddles, I'm going to hope for not too soon. If you catch my drift?

We never want to wish for our kids to be sick but nothing feels better than to be so needed by those we love the most.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous pkzcass said...

You didn't make WB sick, and other than take care of her they way you've been doing, there's nothing else you CAN do. So enjoy the quiet and the cuddles (and in my case, the absolute peace and freedom of having a child stuck on the couch for 4 days, woot!) guilt free. Here's hoping she'll be better soon.

12:18 PM  
Blogger MamaMichelsBabies said...

We all feel that guilt... but to be able to wrap our arms around them for more then a few seconds, to bury our nose in their hair and smell that baby shampoo we refuse to give up because it's comforting to us, oh those are magic moments that keep us sane when they are sick.

I hope she gets to feeling better, but not before you get your fill Mama.

1:45 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

We all enjoy those nice, quiet times in some sneaking part of our heart when we can get them. I remember B&P posting about this last summer, I think , about loving the sickness for affording her those moments of being the solace in her arms. It is nice to get to baby your wee one again like that, if only for a short spell, as we hope it will be.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Malone! said...

You described perfectly the early years of my girls' lives. -beautiful and touching. I hope Wonderbaby feels better soon. Mine are 12 & 14 and those times you are experiencing seem like yesterday for me.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Kristin DeLoach, Graco said...

My heart goes out to you and Wonderbaby. There is nothing more painful than your little one being in any form of pain. Hugs, kisses and snuggles are a remedy for you both.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Savy said...

mine have always been little snugglers, to the point that sometimes I'm shocked that they're not attached to me permanently. I HATE when they're THAT sick, that they are doing nothing. It's scary, simply because it is so very wrong. I hope your little one feels better soon! And you too!

7:47 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

I have felt exactly the same way.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Strep is my nemesis. But I know the calm and peace of which you speak...and I know how it can be both wonderful and entirely unnerving.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Liz@thisfullhouse.com said...

I am so sorry Wonderbaby is sick - my four have been sharing their crud, back and forth, since January - but, I totally understand you, here.

A mother's comfort is another child's misfortune.

Good luck, this week and I do hope that she's feeling better, soon.

9:23 AM  
Blogger AnotherMomCreation said...

I hope this sparks her memory of sitting and cuddling with mommy and continues to do it after her speedy recovery!

10:03 AM  
Anonymous emma said...

I agree with your, oh so eloquent post. I still remember the week my daughter had croup and afever of 104 for five days and all she wanted to do was sleep on my chest. She is 12 (almost 13) now but that memory is still so clear just as you described it.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous sam said...

Sick babies are so heart wrenching. I hope WB is back to her old self real soon.

Thanks to you, I now have "Hold Me Now" by the Thompson Twins stuck in my head.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Poor WB. Cordy has also been sick for the past few days, and I confess it's been nice to have her sit quietly, cuddled up with me, instead of her normal routine of running everywhere and getting into everything. The house has been cleaner.

But I'll still be glad when she's well again. Hope WB is back to her base jumping self again soon.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Minnesota Matron said...

I know, I know. I once held my youngest for five days. Literally -- he wouldn't leave my arms, wept pitifully. Those were sweaty, sweet times. I don't mind a kid on the couch, needing a popscile and a snuggle (even as I feel bad while they suffer!).

12:46 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

Gosh. I thought I was the only one with this guilty memory. Never described so beautifully but then that's what we expect from Her Very Great Writer.
I wouldn't feel guilty though. It's a moment with its own characteristics, sad, and soon, we hope, to be over. The hours in the rocking chair make it easier to bear - and what a gift to be the trusted one whose lap is the only place to be!

3:30 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

NOT Strep. SO now we don't know what it is. But she's definitely improving. Thanks for all the good wishes. xoxox

3:58 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh, fuckity fuck Catherine. That is just heinous in every way. I can only sell many good thoughts up yonder way and hope she makes a speedy, 110% recovery. I wish the same for her mama too.

Don't feel guilty. It's not like you're keeping her sick. Totally normal to feel great about being a good caretaker when the need arises.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

What Mom101 said.

My daughter is sick tonight, too, and I am also guiltily enjoying the extra snuggles and cuddles because they are usually all too fleeting.

I hope she's feeling better soon.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

How dare you make me cry. I hope WB is back to her old self soon. In the meantime, hug her like crazy.

1:27 PM  
Blogger the new girl said...

I still want my mom when I'm sick.

True story.

:)

9:14 PM  

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