A nasty cold had crept into our house, and Gavin fell victim. He always does.
One of the worst parts of parenting has to be when sickness goes through the house. There’s just no great combination, at least not compared to when you were a kid. As a kid, you got to stay home. As a child, mom took care of you, bringing you crackers and Sprite and a big blanket and your favorite cartoons. As a kid, you just had to focus on getting better.
As a parent, it’s quite another story. You’re either taking care of your kid and stuck at home…or you’re sick yourself…or both at the same time. Woof.
This particular cold held on for a very long time. It was one of those colds where Gavin seemed fine during the day. Maybe he was a little snotty, but overall, he was functioning just fine. However, once nighttime rolled around, the coughing and congestion continued for hours, making for a very long and sleepless night.
It was night six (or seven? I lost count) of his cold. Night six of constant coughing fits, often ending in gagging and vomit. Night six of changing the sheets. Night six of refilling the diffuser in the middle of the night. Night six of digging around for a fresh box of tissue. Night six of me counting the hours when I last gave him Tylenol for his headache and throat. Night six of me counting down the minutes to my morning coffee. Night six of me finally just laying down in his bed for the rest of the night because it’s easier than creeping across the house back and forth every time he needed me.
It was 4 a.m. I was laying in Gavin’s bed, rubbing his back and listening to his coughing, feeling sorry for him and for myself. Sorry for my exhaustion, sorry for all the cancelled plans, and sorry that Gavin wasn’t showing any signs of getting better. Poor me. Poor us. Everything was terrible. Whaaaaa.
Then Gav rolled over, wrapped his little arms around mine, and stuck his snotty little face close to mine.
“Mommy,” he whispered. “This is the best night of my whole life.”
I was so utterly surprised by the phrase that I chuckled out loud.
“Why in the world is this the best night of your life?”
He smiled in the dark. “Because I get to snuggle with you.”
I bit my lips and felt the hint of tears behind my eyes. The moment caught me off guard. He was so genuine, so sweet, so honest about it. My heart melted. I kissed his forehead and snuggled in closer, finally relaxing into the moment.
The exchange stuck with me for days. Gavin was the one who was sick and miserable. He was the one feverish and congested. And yet…he was the one looking on the bright side of things, looking at what he had instead of what he didn’t have. He was the one accepting the fact that he had a cold and enjoying the silver lining anyways. He could have gone on and on about how much this cold stunk…but instead, he loved the fact it kept me close to him all night long. And he savored it.
Do I even need to explain how this moment models how we should all approach life?
Even in my mid-30’s, I still fall into the trap of complaining, focusing on the negative, and
comparing my life with others’ sometimes. I begin to grow weary of my own trials. I become bogged down by seasons of waiting. I become heartsick at the seemingly constant and incessant news stories that make it seem evil is winning.
I start thinking we should have more than we do…be farther along in things than we are…or be better at what we are doing than what we have done. We should have more experiences under our belt, bigger vacations, more square footage in our house, more knowledge, more kids, more accomplishments, and for the sake of all things holy, updated family photos!
But if I model my sweet boy, my thoughts would (should…will!) look different. I’d thank God more often for what we do have, that we aren’t stuck in huge piles of debt because we bought things we couldn’t afford. I’d thank Him for the experiences we have had, big and small, be it vacations out of state or sweet family moments playing board games on our living room floor. I’d thank Him for our small house because this place is where our love and marriage and babies have grown. I’d thank Him for the photos I do have, quick snapshots of a full life on my iPhone, little moments I may never get back but moments I can scroll through and revisit any time I want.
The media can be overwhelming. The constant chatter from the news, the constant opinion posting, the constant yelling over each other can make us all want to hide in a cave. But there’s so much good in the world, and we would do well to fill up our minds with those things also…maybe even more so.
When I focus on the beautiful parts of life, and the good people around me, I remember that it isn’t all bad or hard or frustrating.
The wisdom of God is bent toward gratitude, patience, simplicity, hard work, and love. The wisdom of the world strives for more, and it doesn’t care how you get it: more organized, more complete, more accomplished, more, more, more, more, bigger, better, louder. The wisdom of God lays quiet, solid, and accessible to us through the disciplines of patience, gratitude, and love.
In keeping with this wisdom, God blesses the smallest ones in our lives with the biggest faith. We’d do well to pay attention to their whimsy, their gratitude, and even their chatter in midnight hours when they finally have our full attention.
Maybe Gavin wasn’t intending to teach me about faith that night. But in accepting his lot that night…accepting he had a cold…his little light shone bright and clear in my life, straightening my path and pointing back to the One from whom all good things come…even, and especially, snotty little boys.