On Lying Down with My Sick Child

I have friends who cosleep with their kids till they’re two. I have friends who spend a stretch each evening stroking a child’s hair or singing her songs till she drifts off.

I am not that mom.

I’m the mom who values consistency, independence, a nap where I’m free to roam about the cabin. My kids fall asleep on their own, and I’m more often proud than wistful about it.

But a couple times a year, I am called upon to violate my precepts. We are in a new place, or someone gets sick, and I need to lie down and wait for someone to fall asleep.

Recently, it was both: we were in a new place and Scout had a tummy bug and fever and asked me to help her fall asleep.

She lay down on her back and I settled on a narrow strip of trundle bed beside her, one arm draped over her warm belly. She whispered spookily, words I couldn’t understand and I began to catalog all the things I would do to get comfortable if I were free to do so: take off my glasses, remove my cardigan, roll over onto my back. Scout stirred against me and my hand twitched for my phone, bored and restless. I’ve spent so much time during my most recent pregnancy forced to be an observer in my own life that the last two months have been energetic, almost frenetic, and to be suddenly still again is frustrating.

But in that moment, stillness was my only job. Eventually, I extricated myself with agonizing slowness–my hair trapped under her heavy head, almost as close as two people can be– as her sweet little snores began, praying my saucer-eyed girl felt better by morning, that her siblings might be spared, that I might have the grace to give and receive this sacred trust of motherhood: a warm little body, nestled for comfort against mine.

3 thoughts on “On Lying Down with My Sick Child

  1. for the first 8-ish months of Case’s life, he would only stay asleep if i was holding him. it was so exhausting and frustrating, but i was grateful to be forced to STOP sometimes.

    reading this, my back twists and my neck sweats and my heart swells in solidarity.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a sweet picture!!! ❤

    We have a very tough sleeper and it's been a long and exhausting transition to her getting better and better…from cosleeping to falling asleep on her own in the crib (took a year maybe without forcing it?)…but oddly now looking back, I'm ok with it. Every child is different and these were her needs. It's so sanctifying to die to self in those times of motherhood, isn't it?


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