Some might not put the disgusting childhood illness known as hand foot and mouth disease and mini vacation in the same sentence, but here I am. We live somewhere in between being minimalist and slow living, yet a busy season of life really picked up this past year and I feel like from the beginning of school to now has gone by in a flash. We are busier than we have been over the past year and trying to take things slow has gotten so much harder, not just with the extra activities, but feeling the outside “do it all” pressure from the outside world creeping in as well.
I do often get caught up in the mundaneness of the stay at home mom life. The kids play with the same toys each day, the schedule doesn’t vary too much except for adding random outings here and there in between appointments and preschool, and I find myself checking my Facebook News feed to have nothing change every hour (or 5 times an hour) which is more often than I’d like.
The cold of winter sets in and spring days seem more wintery than spring like, while I appreciate being able to stay cozy inside, everyone seems grumpier, the whining is at an all time high and we are less engaged in anything that doesn’t display trains on a screen, meanwhile I’m scrolling Pinterest to pin ideas for fun activities that I know I’ll never do.
And then, everyone gets sick. And my perspective changes.
I spend everyday with my kids, but there is nothing quite like the attention you give to your children when they are sick. All of the sudden every ounce of compassion is as if you’ve been saving up for these moments and it’s all pouring out on real and very sad tears from pain, illness, or just being cranky and tired. I understand them better than I ever have before because I’m watching their every move awake or asleep to make sure they are okay. Now the lunches they refuse seem to not matter in the least because even eating a cookie for lunch will be okay today. TV can be on 24/7 without the guilt and the juice I never allow is an endless fountain, whatever they can get down their cute little throats. The back rubs, cuddles and hugs come free (as always) but they are drawn out and without a phone in the other hand.
We got hit hard this past winter, both my kids ended up with one of my least favorite illnesses (are there any favorites? I suppose not) at the same time and we spent more than a week housebound. I thought I was not going to make it through, but somewhere deep inside as mom’s we buck up! Staying positive and as loving as I could, and then something magical began to happen. I began noticing weird little things about my kids, while anxiously staring at their rash and thinking “could this be deathly?” Funny little faces they make, pure excitement in a laugh from the show we are watching, words I didn’t even know my younger child knew, or seeing how simple things like books, glow sticks, and a bath make everything seems better.
It was the slow part of living life with my kids I’d missed, the attunement I love and more than a week spent without worry of what we had to do or where we had to be. It was a mini vacation from outside life and it was wonderful.
We are so hard on ourselves . And it took both my kids being sick to make me think, why? Why worry so much, I didn’t have time or didn’t care to worry at all during that week (except for the general googling of “is my child going to die from ___” but that’s every mom, right?) I just had time to be. Be there for them, be okay with mess and tv and jam on toast for every meal. Be okay with sitting, cuddling, and night time wake ups even though we are long past that stage, where I just move my bedding onto theirs because that’s just easier and I’m pretty sure it won’t cause any issues long term. Be with them, whole heartedly and present in every way I could.
We all get caught up in the trappings of modern life, the phones, emails, social media scrolling. When we came out the other side of the illness, we went straight back to normal life, back to school, appointments, and all the rest. Attempting a little less screen time, for them and me and hopefully a gentle reminder to myself each day to remember that the tender loving care I gave them while sick, can be a part of daily life too.
Elizabeth is a stay at home mom to two busy toddlers. She and her husband have a passion for creating, slow living, knowing where your food comes from, and semi-homesteading. They own a small acreage outside of Edmonton where they are trying to make life even more wonderful with almost 20 chickens, a few rabbits, and a huge garden. Elizabeth shares this journey through writing and imagery on her social media for those tempted by that country life and want to know more or anyone that wants to join in the fun! Instagram: @backyardfarm.mama, backyardfarmmama.wordpress.com