My own childhood memories come back strongly when I'm on the parenting side of a similar situation. When my kids are sick I remember so vividly how my mom took care of me when I was sick.
I remember how my mom would tuck a blanket around me while I rested. I remember her bringing a tray with flat 'pop' and crackers or soft boiled eggs. Most of all, I remember cool washcloths. Whenever I was throwing up or feverish, my mom would run a washcloth under cool water, wring it out, fold it, and drape it over my forehead. That felt so good! It wasn't just the cool washcloth, although that was great, it was also the presence and quiet nurturing that felt so good.
When I was sick, my mom and I both changed. In normal life she was busy. A single mom with three kids, she worked hard and came home tired. But when I was sick, she had plenty of time and energy and tenderness to care for me. On my end, being sick was like being a littler child again. I needed her so much more than usual.
When our children are sick, exhausted, or injured, it's like we go through a trap door to an earlier developmental time. When they're babies, sickness intensifies their neediness and can open our hearts to them even more fully.. It's exhausting! As children get older, sickness gives us the chance to revisit the relationship we had when they were small. We can reconnect deeply with a sick child, rebuilding a sense of loving attachment that may be faltering as they grow older and more distracted or independent. We can feel our own hearts open, letting go of frustrations or grievances that may have been interfering with the relationship. We can nurture the baby self that lives inside of our ordinarily capable kids.
Do you have special rituals or routines that come up when your children are sick? Can you feel a stronger connection develop? Or the chance to heal more than their bodies?
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness helps me find peace with my imperfect journey--being with myself as I truly am, loving my family as they are, and showing up for a messy world with openness and compassion.