Today I spent the day sick on the couch. It is rare that anyone in my family gets sick, but this is the worst cold I have had since I was pregnant with my daughter. There were a lot of days spent on the couch then, and my son who was almost three didn’t care much for any of them. I did not have great hopes that today would be different. My husband offered to stay home but he spends a tremendous amount of time alone in his studio painting and he had already promised to take some visiting European artists around LA to visit galleries. I didn’t want any of them to miss out on a fun day. Somebody should be having a good time! The one known entity was that no matter what it wouldn’t be me. I downplayed how sick I was to my husband and silently promised myself that other than mealtimes, basic hygiene, and diaper changes I would tune out everything that needed to get done, I would explain to the kids how much more sick I would get if I did more than the minimum for them. There were already pots of soup and rice in the fridge so I didn’t have to worry about dinner. I would spend the day on the couch. I convinced myself I could do this.
And I did. My kids had a fabulous day!
I would have been more surprised if it hadn’t have been so obvious why my children loved their day so much. They didn’t get to go outside and play in the newly formed puddles in our yard (a big deal since we are having a drought in California), I didn’t cater to their every need and, well, request, I frequently had to tell my son that I couldn’t talk to him because that drained my energy, other than a new board game I didn’t play with my son at all – none of the imaginary games he adores to play and typically begs for multiple times every day. The kids didn’t whine. They got along wonderfully. They smiled tons. All because they had me stationary on the couch. I was close to them. All day long. After our game of Zoologic became too taxing for me in my sick state, I did stitching handwork while my son put together lego. My young daughter toddled around, playing with little toys, climbing up on me for snuggles -thumb in her mouth, hand down my shirt- and then again to the floor for more independent play. Neither of my kids nap, but during one of her trips to cuddle, my littlest one nursed to sleep on my lap, her head cradled in my arm. Such sweetness. A warm sleeping child is perfect medicine for a sick mama.
What I discovered today is how much my children value their connection and close time with me. I know this extends to their father, as well. My kids and I are together all day every day. Once a week my son goes to the studio for the day with his Papa and that is the only break apart I have from either of my little ones. I never imagined that they would want even more time with me than they already have. We have a weekly rhythm and usually our days spent at home involve playing together and lots of conversation but they are also very full of housework, laundry, preparing meals, important phone calls (usually with the insurance company or Covered California. Although we pay our premiums every month, we seem to never have active health insurance…that of course is another story). Our days are Full. Too Full.There is just too much to get done and I never catch up. I know this is a struggle for many of us. I am with my children all the time and still I don’t feel like I give them enough. They are happy and secure kids but I can tell they still want more from me, more of me. Today I think they felt like I gave them enough. Our day on the couch together was a beautiful discovery to make. Obviously, I can’t do this all the time. But I can do it sometimes. We made a decision at the end of our day that into our rhythm we will add one day a month where we sit on the couch all day, just being together, doing what we love, deepening our connections with each other. I am so grateful for this cold.