Taking a Breath

Sketch

A funny thing happened on the way to my blog post last night.

One of the things about homeschooling is that the kids are all home, together, and they get to share everything. So when someone gets sick, everyone is in on the experience. If you have a family, you know how this works. The constant laundry, the cleaning supplies, the probability that with four sick children one of them is likely to be up at any given time of the night. Parenting does not stop for illness; on the contrary, it shifts into a higher gear. The vigilance, the worry, the lack of sleep pile on and everything is more challenging for the duration of the crisis. And all of this is assuming that you don’t get sick as well.

I like to be useful, so I tend to appreciate this more immediate, concrete mode of parenting. Taking care of someone in need is a good way to feel that I’m doing my job. It’s less complicated, somehow. More elemental.

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep talking.

Anyway, last night my ten year-old’s asthma, which she has had since she was a baby, was triggered by her cold and went into overdrive. Her inhaler didn’t seem to be working and she couldn’t keep anything down. When I got home from work she was ghostly pale.

I took her to the emergency room and she was given a nebulizer treatment. She was a champion. Her relief at being able to breathe again freed her up to tell me all about what she had been reading. We discussed Kit Carson and the Oregon Trail. She regretted having ignored my advice to bring a book (you should always bring a book). So she took my sketchbook and drew a still life of the medical instruments in the triage room.

As a parent you will understand the value of this moment: of being close to your child and knowing that she is going to be okay; that she is free to be the person she is and to share it.

It should be easier for me to appreciate these moments when they happen. My children do something astounding every day. But sometimes it’s important to start with just being there, just being present with them.

Just breathing. That’s a good start.