Finding Meaning in ‘the pits’: Sick seasons with Babies & Toddlers

Alternatively titled: how to not beat yourself up when the kids are sick
I don’t have a good picture of what it looks like for everyone to be sick. But this cup of dandelion root tea will have to do. Liver cleansing. 

A few months ago I wrote a post about breastfeeding through the flu. I wish I could say it has been smooth sailing since then but it has been anything but smooth.  You name it we’ve had it this past sick season: flu, ear infections, thrush, RSV, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, more ear infections, more thrush, pink eye, coxsackie virus, more flu (thanks for nothing flu vaccine), strep pneumonia, and stomach virus. Don’t think for a minute that I think this is anywhere near over (the flu in April — really?!). Oh no I’ve learned better than that now.

Each time one set of sicknesses leaves us, I take a deep breath and start to mend my tattered sail. I might even pat myself on the back for a short moment: “Whew you made it through that one, mama. Look at you, stronger than you knew!” I start looking at the map again, “where are we? where were we going? let’s get going!”  I might even start to move along the choppy seas again, trying to find my rhythm after the storm. But before I get too comfy in my cautious optimism, the next storm comes out of nowhere. Another child down for the count. The sail that I thought was mended breaks much more easily this time and in more spots. And I am once again trying to navigate the storms of illness, weary and ill-equipped. My boat feels like it is about to tip over, turn wide, dip deep & fill with water. I can’t find the balance. 

The worst part is that I am such a problem solver that I think everything that goes wrong can and should be fixed. So I obsess about cause and effect. I beat myself up over every mis-step.

The doubts come fast and heavy, flooding and drown me. Are we not washing hands frequently enough? Is there something wrong with my breastmilk? I thought breastfed babies have higher immunity. Am I giving them the right kind of vitamins? Enough vitamins? Enough healthy food? Should we be using that antibacterial soap with the triclosan in it? Am I cleaning those pesky humidifiers often enough? Spirals and cycles of relentless self-doubt pound my sail in a deluge, adding to the heaviness of it all.

But I have discovered, through these storms, self-knowledge along the way and here’s the heart of it: the self-doubt is a dead-end. It is darkness and it is dizzying.  Trust — in a divine plan, an infinite intelligence — is healing, it is living breathing balm for soul that covers over, forgives, and finds a way to journey on in light and in love. Without blame or guilt or shame. In the loving embrace of a Heavenly Father, we can find peace. He carries us through the darkest hours & never grows weary.

So I hold tight and anchor my boat to Him. I turn off my mind that wants to reason and argue, blame and shame. And I promise myself not to try to explain the unexplainable, the seas ever-changing. The squalls come but I am anchored to the One whose peace runs deepest and I embrace whatever arises. I cease cursing the wind and rain, instead pausing to be with it and acknowledge its life force — fierce & consuming. My sail may get tattered but His healing Love never ends.  I breathe, long and slow, and drink my dandelion tea. And I remember that this storm is not bigger than Him.

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