By Lisa Hamel
I never planned to be a nurse. I studied music. I studied bible. Looking back now, a nursing degree would have been incredibly practical. I live in the Pacific Northwest where the winters are long, wet, and dark. I remember as a mom of young kids and even now, when illness makes its rounds, we can be taken out for weeks at a time! Our little family has survived three broken limbs, stitches, E.R. visits and the like. I have often felt so inadequate when sickness or a medical emergency has occurred. I’d love to hear your stories but I’m sure you can relate to:
• Those late night visits to urgent care
• Running out of groceries because you can’t leave the house
• Looking at your husband like he’s an urban myth because you haven’t talked to another adult in 10 hours
• The adrenaline of jumping out of bed to bring a bucket to a kids’ bedside
• The constant cancellation or change of plans because now a DIFFERENT kid is puking
• Not being able to remember the last time you showered, but realizing you’ve been wearing the same shirt for a week and it’s covered in Lord only knows what
• Wondering if your hair will ever come out of its greasy bun formation
Can I get a witness? We’ve all been there! Friends, I am no expert on this. I may look like a hot mess, but by God’s grace I am growing and here’s what I’ve learned so far.
1. Ask for help!
It’s easy to isolate ourselves when we are quarantining our home, but we still need people who we can count on when our own resources are tapped out. Asking a friend to drop by a gallon of milk or Gatorade is constructive. Asking for prayer on a social media platform is constructive, but be careful not grumble and complain.
2. Ask for wisdom.
As I’ve mentioned before, I never had “the mom gut” thing. It once took me an entire day to realize my 2 year old had a broken ankle! I’m so glad that God is the great Healer & Shepherd! He loves our kids more than we do. As we talk to him about everything, He will guide us as we turn to him for answers.
3. Give yourself grace.
LET THINGS GO! Take deep breaths. Eat a frozen meal. Ask your husband or friend to watch your kids so you can have the luxury of an uninterrupted shower. Reschedule things. The world will survive and keep moving forward without you. Yes, you are going to drop balls. You are going to fail. And that’s OK. Mom’s aren’t perfect. We are human beings who have limits.
4. Be all there with your sick ones.
It can come on suddenly, but we, as moms, have to adjust. If you’re like me, it can be hard to change gears when our plans have to change. When you realize that your kid is sick and your day has just gone sideways, say this to yourself.
“This is what I’m doing now. This is my portion. This is what God has for me.”
You may have planned to show three houses, or teach, or go to Costco, but plans have to change and that’s ok. I spent a lot of my early mothering years trying to juggle it all and pushing myself to continue teaching while my kids were sick. I know it’s a huge stress to miss work, but if your kids are in pain, there is no one they would rather be with than you.
On a dark, rainy night after three miserable hours of waiting in Urgent Care, I asked my son if he could think of anything he was grateful for. As he laid in my lap with a mask on, he said, “ that you are with me.” I was given the opportunity to be present with my son in his suffering and grew new bonds with him through that ordeal.
As mom’s there is nothing harder than seeing our kids suffer. We want to take it away. We wish we could suffer for them. What we actually can do is provide comfort. But here’s the thing: we cannot offer our kids what we do not have.
5. Seek comfort from the Lord.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
We can show them that we love them when they are losing it from both ends and we will gladly drop other things when they need us. As we find comfort from the Lord, our kids receive comfort downstream. Just like a virus, our trust and reliance on Jesus is contagious. Each illness can be an opportunity to teach trust, resilience, and hope to our kids. Because Jesus is glad to be with us in our hot mess, we can be glad to be with our kids.
All the aspects of illness over the early years have brought me to the end of myself in a special way. It has made me reach out for community and realize its significance. We need friends who get us. Friends who have been there. Friends who can make us laugh at the puke we find ourselves covered in! If you don’t have a friend who has your back during the sick season, then pray that God will bring one to you or help you seek them out.
There is a saying that “pain plus time equals comedy.” My goal is to learn to laugh at the tough moments in life sooner. To have resilience as the newest contagion makes its rounds, and to remember that God is faithful and we will get through to the other side. That wonderful place where there are coffee dates with good friends. Sunshine and cute clothes and fresh air. Restful nights and the ever so rare in my experience, good hair day.
Lisa is currently "SAHM-ing." In the past she has been a pastoral counselor, a singer, a music director, and an accountant! She lives in a multi generational home in the Pacific Northwest with her two boys, her amazing husband, and her mother. She is a coffee snob and a health nut who loves to dance like no one is watching. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!