Winter in Wisconsin. Slushy boot prints form puddles on our kitchen floor. My tea kettle claims reserved parking on the stove top. And I’m coming down with my third cold in five weeks.
My kids are to blame. They contaminate me.
When the lady of the house wipes runny noses every three minutes, snuggles with congested insomniacs at midnight, and gets hacked on and sneezed on day after day, it’s near impossible to avoid catching something myself. This is not for lack of maniac hand-washing and countertop sanitizing, believe me. Pinkeye is just one of the curses of Eve. I’m rolling with it.
Truly, the mommy in me is a softie for sick kiddos. My heart aches when they’re hurting, and I’d gladly take the hit for them.
For them. Not with them. What’s the point in all of us being sick together?
You can tell the moment when everybody’s Tylenol wears off, usually a good half hour before the dosage chart says we can safely slurp another round. Baby girl flips a switch from giggling to wailing, grasping my sweatpants at the knee, desperate for Mommy to hold her and make the yuck go away. Meanwhile, big sister refuses to eat anything but Goldfish pretzels and pouts because her imaginary friends are moving to Arizona and can’t come for supper.
I juggle these emotional meltdowns with my own verging tears, feeling my tonsils swell like swallowed golf balls, and I start praying that Daddy’s car pulls into the garage before the entire house implodes.
It’s just a cold, I tell myself. It will pass. Buck up, quit whining. Where is your patience? Where is your strength?
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me,” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
That’s my trouble. I think weakness is a problem. Being sick, needing rest, appearing less than self-sufficient—in my book, that’s all bad. Super Mom must prevail! So your sinuses are breeding like a Petri dish, eh, Becky? Too bad, the laundry still needs folding. Do. It. All. No matter what.
But Jesus says, rest in my power. Not your own. His grace is all I need. Not his grace and some NyQuil. Just his grace.
This tells me I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing again—me. My sore throat, my cough, my upcoming obligations that are going to be tougher to muddle through with laryngitis. But if I look to God more than I focus on my (relative) misery, I’ll see that his power has a chance to shine in my sniffles.
Weakness can be a good thing. That is absolutely counterintuitive to a do-it-yourself momma. But the invitation to tap the Lord’s power is intriguing, and I want to try it.
So I decided to take a sick day. I cannot do it all—gasp!—at least not all of the time. I begged my husband to stay home from work on dad duty, but he can’t, so my sick day is this: be sick. Be okay with being sick. Pray for God to take away the sick, but more importantly, ask for his supernatural strength to get through the minimal requirements of the day.
Which are: soothe the beautiful babes who are also sick, make sure everybody gets breakfast and lunch (Goldfish pretzels count), dole out the meds at allotted increments, and forget about everything else—the laundry, the dishes, the phone calls, the e-mails. Just be sick together. Stay in our pajamas and eat orange popsicles. And see how God works among us when we keep him closer than our Kleenex box.
Yep, it’s winter alright. We still have four months of cold and flu season ahead, which at my current pace might mean nine more colds before summer. Best that I learn my lesson on number three. Maybe then God will have mercy on me until next fall. If not, I will boast in him. His power is made perfect in my pinkeye.