Sunday, November 9, 2014
On being at home
When there is illness in the house, it feels like time stops. You stay home, you don't do the normal chores or pastimes, you don't see anyone. It doesn't matter if it's me who gets sick or one of my children, sick time feels about the same. The Bear was away all week and I was alone with the kids, which can be trying even when everyone feels good. He's back now, though the illness continues; the GB is lying on the couch with a book about cowboys and her spill-proof water bottle. I used to really dread their illnesses; it usually meant a week of isolation, which could stretch to two or three weeks if they didn't get sick together. These days, they're more robust and it isn't so scary anymore, and it's over more quickly too. There's still that feeling when they're sick, though; you know the one. The hours creep by. The house is quieter. They revert to napping. You shuffle around, trying not to disturb them.
This week, I read books aloud and I put together hundred-piece jigsaw puzzles featuring baby animals. There were movies (including an animated film based on The Boxcar Children series of books, currently streaming on Netflix; it was really good! Martin Sheen provides the grandfather's voice). I find it hard to slow down; it feels wrong to sit indoors all day, especially when it's finally cool and crisp outside - my perfect weather. But I can watch the light change through the day - the sun making its slow progression across the front of our house, surmounting the roof by mid-afternoon, casting long shadows across the backyard. I filled the crockpot, I made cup after cup of tea, I crocheted. I made notes for my Thanksgiving menu. I walked through the house with my camera, documenting my time indoors. I quietly slipped out the breakfast-nook door to wander in the backyard; the mums are almost gone but the nandina is neon-bright. Inside, the fever was spiking again, as it always does in late afternoon. Fever mode: grab the thermometer, pour the liquid Tylenol. Set one fewer place at the table. Prepare for a long night.
I feel thankful to deal with it, in a way. Even at the lowest moments, when cleaning up from a night of sickness, or sitting in a steamy bathroom to help a little one breathe, I am glad to be able to care for them. I don't mean I enjoy it; certainly not. But I can: my home is safe and warm, we can afford medicine or a visit to the doctor, we have all the blankets and tea and soft, mushy food any sick person could need. I can stay home for as long as it takes and care for them myself. I hate to see them so miserable. I hate the worry and fear when someone is ill. I hate to be sick myself, and I hold my breath for a week after their illnesses, praying I'm not next. But it's times like these when I feel particularly proud of the home I've created for them. They can be comfortable here, in their own place.
Isn't it such a relief when they feel better? And you know it's happening when they become crankier and less pliant, when they won't lie down anymore. We're on the road now - until the next one. But it's a blessed moment; things will soon be back to normal, time starting up again and the routines back in place. I've grown more appreciative, though; sometimes a stretch of peaceful, nurturing time at home is just the right thing - for body and spirit.