my recovery in his sickness.

he hasn't slept in hours, though he wants to and needs it.  his eyes rimmed red, swollen, voice gravelled from pleading, and what can i do?  it's a minor sickness, and certain to be gone within a day or two, but that brings no reassurance to a baby who is only now, for the first time, realizing that there is such a thing as a fall.

so we rock.  his hot little body wrapped up in fleece, his snot on my shoulder, we rock.  the weight of his head presses, releases, presses, releases with the force of gravity, and i stroke his soft blonde hairs.

i don't know why i do it.  i have never been one to coddle illness, but i rather take to it as though to punish it for trespassing upon our family.  i rarely have the time or patience to cuddle sick little ones, though i'm not entirely frigid and do encourage lots of blankets and couch-time and even movies and treats.  after all, it is not the child's fault for getting sick but rather the fault of the illness itself for daring to show up uninvited and without so much as a hostess gift.  but it's not my fault either, and daily life cannot stop for a runny nose.  there are dishes to do, other children to occupy!

but now, today, with two other healthy children underfoot and plenty of messes to both perpetrate and sentence, i rock my smallest and do not wish i was elsewhere.  it is dark where we are, and secluded, and the air is warm, cozy, bordering on stuffy.  i sit, my back aching, in a spindle rocker purchased at a garage sale from a woman i can only assume is a good six inches shorter than i.  the chair has no seat pad, though i've made do with a lumpy pillow unfit for sleeping on, and i've positioned myself so that my spine curves between the spindles that compose the back of the chair.  i lean my head back against the top arch of the rocker and rest the baby on my chest.

his hot breath is a necklace as i sing the regular hymns.  his inhales are interrupted by his attempts to suck his principal fingers - he can only breathe through his mouth since wind in his nose just rattles around and stops dead before ever entering his lungs.  both of us struggle to relax into this.

but then, slightly, softly, i feel his chest bump-bumping against mine.  my heart beats bigger and slowly compared to his quick (though slowing) rhythm.  our hearts are beating against each other, through my shirt, through the fleece, through the fever just under his skin.  and i think about the days when we shared a body, when our lives were completely woven together and there was no separation.  but i am more intimate with him now than then.  i can smell him and feel the heaviness of him in my arms and i know the deep blue of his eyes.  we're not together, hearts together, now because of necessity or pure biology, but because of comfort and warmth and being known and choice.

his labored breathing eases and slows, and i stop singing but keep rocking.  i pray for him and he is asleep.  i keep rocking.  now it's just for my own comfort, relishing the little life that has been entrusted to me, and grateful for the glimmer of contentedness in the muck and exhaustion of motherhood.

i lay him down, curled up, finally at rest.  i go lightly out the door and pull it closed behind me, better now, finally at rest.


butwehavethistreasure said...

Oh, that was lovely to read.

todd said...

Now that is something of which I would like to see much more!

Alana said...

This is so beautiful. What poetry in weakness. Thank you for sharing such an intimate moment.