Having an ill child is stressful and worrying and I wouldn’t recommend it. To parents or children. But every cloud has a silver lining (that’s unusually optimistic for me).
Having an ill child forces you to slow down and prioritise. And in a weird kind of way I’ve enjoyed having my son poorly. Just the bits where he’s pretty much himself. Not the bits where he’s been crying on the toilet.
I spend my life in a state or perpetual anxiety about all the things I have to do and haven’t done. There’s hoovering and washing and bed changing. There’s shopping, appointments to make, appointments to attend, recycling to sort.
Oh, and there’s running and blogging and school governors. Things I have chosen to do, putting further unecessary pressure on myself.
When my daughter started school my plan was to spend half of one of those two precious ‘free’ days a week reading. Because I absolutely love reading. Did that happen? No chance. Because I’ve always got a hundred things to do and I’m always panicking that I’m not going to manage them. Stop the world, I want to get off.
And then somebody gets ill and throws an enormous spanner in the works. The world grinds to a halt. I have no choice but to slow down.
I was on my way out of the door to dance class, one trainer on, one half on, when my son told me I couldn’t go because he needed me. So I didn’t go. I never miss dance class.
The next day the plan was for him to go to school, me to pick him up from school and take him to the doctor’s and me to go to work. But he wasn’t well enough for school. So he didn’t go. And I didn’t go to work. And things didn’t fall apart at work, everything was fine.
I got to read my school governor papers, rather than do my usual thing of cramming them just before my meeting. And when he didn’t go to school the next day I didn’t do my shopping or recycling and I didn’t go to my school governors’ meeting, even though I was all prepared having read my papers. And nothing went wrong. The world didn’t fall apart. In fact, the grass got cut.
And best of all, I got some quality time with my boy. We played on the Wii. How do they do that? I was dreadful, couldn’t get the hang of it at all. He even let me score a couple of goals. That’s not right, surely. He’s the child. I should be the one letting him score the goals.
I’ve always been close to my son, but he’s never been very affectionate. And over the last couple of years as football has taken over his life he has stopped being Mummy’s boy and become Daddy’s boy. Daddy wasn’t around much during his illness. And he certainly wasn’t there during the daytime. My boy knew who was the one looking after him. I didn’t do a lot. Just reassure him and sit with him when he felt poorly. And that’s all that mattered to him. It made him want kisses and cuddles more than he’s wanted them in a long time. And not just when he was feeling poorly, but when he was feeling not so poorly too. That’s a really special thing.
So although I’m not grateful my boy was ill, I am grateful that I got to spend some time just with him and I’m grateful that the world didn’t fall apart because I didn’t go running and I didn’t take my recycling out.