My baby is sick today. She was fine this morning. We went to church as usual. She started coughing a dry cough that could have just been from our super dry mountain air or because she needed a drink. I took her to her class where her condition worsened and I ended up taking her out early. By the time we were walking home, her nose was running, her eyes were watering, her cheeks were bright red and the cough had strengthened. She has been miserable all evening. She is sleeping right now, but only tentatively, with a fan blowing on her naked, hot back.
Isn't it something, what happens to a family when the baby is sick? (I know, at two, she is not really a baby anymore, but there is no one younger so she retains the title.) Everyone does what they can to help; one brings a blanket, another a wet rag for her forehead, another brings a drink of water and a dolly. The older ones stand helplessly by my side for the moment when I need a quick break so they can take a turn rocking. We are all patient with her crying and coddle her as much as possible. She just has a cold, she will be fine, but it is still so sad when the normally lively child is sedate and miserable.
I think there is a very specific reason for the sicknesses of babies and children. Beyond all of the scientific business that is going on with the fever and the white blood cells, there is something happening in that child's social life: She is becoming absolutely irreplaceable to her family. The pitiful look or the uncomfortable cry that can only be healed by hours of pacing the floor or patting her back, endears the mother (father/brother/sister) to her. Yes, she needs us to teach her and comfort her and love her at other times, but when she is sick, her pain speaks to our most basic nurturing instinct. When she is sick, she needs me. It is a refining of the parent's soul, bringing us closer to understanding our Father's love for us. These endless nights are the ones that cement our desire to be the best parent possible to that precious child.
So, though I will be tired on the morrow, I would never trade my many nights wearing out my rocking chair with the fussy or sick or hungry baby. She will only be small enough to fit in my lap for such a short time. And I must run many years on the batteries charged while my life is on baby duty.