Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Really Am a Mommy

Last night, although Abby continues to fight a fever, we put our kids to bed at the house of our dear friends, with whom we were having dinner. We arrived with arms full of pillows, stuffed animals, pajamas, books, and all the bedtime paraphenalia required by little ones. They've gone to sleep here a number of times, so the home is familiar and comfortable to them. Both kids asked all day when we'd be going to their house; both fell asleep almost immediately after we laid them down.

We had to wake them up in order to drive home at the end of the night, and though Ben simply closed his eyes and fell back asleep once snuggled into his car seat, Abby chatted with us all the way home, in spite of the late hour. In the car by the light of the moon, we conversed with her about our day and the lights on the dash and the lyrics of the music.

As is typical when Abby gets sick, her "reactive airways" have, indeed, reacted to this latest virus. In fact, the wheezing and whistling and rattling and spasmodic coughing showed up first this time, before any other symptom. She coughed frequently as we drove, and I couldn't help but say, "I'm sorry, Baby," every time. We've been treating her with albuterol every four hours around the clock, so it worked out conveniently to do her treatment when we got home. Once we had the treatment ready, she asked to do her medicine with me, so we turned down the lights, snuggled into the couch, and began.

It takes about five minutes to get through one vial of medicine. I sat against the arm of the couch with my legs stretched out in front of me. Abby snuggled into my lap, her own legs stretched across mine, her head resting on my chest while I held the mist in front of her mouth and nose. I could see only the top of her eyes from my angle, and as we sat there, I felt her body relax and watched her eyelashes droop closer and closer to her cheek. Though all energy and questions in the car, the hour caught up to her once we were home, and I held and kissed my sleepy darling while she quietly inhaled her medicine.

She coughed occasionally, this awful, congested, barking cough. Though her spirits remain high when she's sick, I know she feels crummy. During the day, she can hardly walk from the family room to the kitchen without her breathing becoming labored. So I cooed to her in soft, soothing mama tones. I held her little body close, brushed the hair out of her eyes. And I realized that I am one of two people in the world who gets this privilege, who gets to be "the one" to this precious girl--the one she wants when she is sick, the one whose lap she wants to climb into when she's exhausted, the one she asks for when she needs to be comforted. I am her mommy. No one else in the world has that title. This reality seared my heart with its poignancy.

She was practically asleep by the time the medicine was finished. I couldn't bear to disturb her by leaning over to turn off the nebulizer, so in a whisper, I asked Josh to do it. Then I carried her gently upstairs to her room and laid her in her crib, where she pulled her Froggy close and went right to sleep.

To Ben and Abby, no one else in the world offers the same comfort, respite, security, and love as me and Josh. Someday, that will change. But for now, it is a profound honor and responsibility. At times, my heart aches with love for them--like last night, when I snuggled my sick girl in the still of the night and my chest hurt with her coughs, swelled with longing to make her better.

For now, I hold her in my arms with tender affection; forever, I will hold her in my soul with love. I think this is what it means to be a mommy.


  1. What a beautifully written encapsulation of what it means to be "Mommy." Your kids are lucky to have you to love and trust.

  2. Thank you, Julie. It is a role fraught with frustration (and failure), too, but that makes the sweet moments all the more precious to me. And at the heart of it all is a soul-level desire to help them thrive in this world. Thanks for your thoughts.


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