Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Sick Room

We've had a stomach virus moving through the family for about a week now. Anytime children are ill, mothering can be a challenge. But in large families, when the illness lasts 5-7 days per person, and no one gets sick at the same time ... it can drag on for what seems like eternity and a mom can grow very weary by the end.

The first couple of days, when only my littlest K (5) and the hubby were sick, kind of felt like a mini vacation. I was rested and cheerful, and in between checking on and helping out the two sickies, I worked on my wreath from Pinterest. But as the days went on, K became sicker and one by one the other children joined in. We haven't slept through the night since last Friday. The laundry has been going round the clock, and the house I got in order before the start of school is now a disaster area.

I'm pleased to report (and very grateful) that we've turned the corner and everyone is improving. However, as even more time passes, the little ones feel just well enough to be up and around, but not well enough to go to school. It's not as easy for mama to be cheerful. The ministry of the sick room now is less about cuddling and nursing, and more about constant work preparing foods that appeal to appetites in various stages of healing, helping with make-up schoolwork, cleaning all the sick rooms, and distracting not-quite-well children who have cabin fever.

As I've been going through the day, I keep thinking about a passage Nancy Wilson wrote about caring for sick children. It took some scrounging around to find the right passage, but I finally did. It's from Praise Her in the Gates, p. 34. Nancy says:
"When children are ill, it is a wonderful opportunity for teaching. You can model patience and cheerfulness to them when you get up in the night to comfort and minister to them. ... Mothers do have the capacity to make illness a happy memory"

She then goes on to talk about specific times when her children were sick and they read a whole book, or drank pop in the middle of the night, or watched old movies when the whole family was sick at the same time. I think back to when I was a child and being sick meant that my Mom made us cinnamon toast and we drank Sprite with a straw.
Hubby remembers his mom crushing ice with a hammer (no auto-ice dispensers back then, lol) and drinking Coke. I remember the time I had a terrible fever and was so miserable I couldn't sleep - my Mom sat by my bed reading aloud to me until I drifted off. What a blessing!

So I'm prayerfully "doing the next thing" in the sick room as I wipe bottoms, wash blankets and pillows, read aloud, watch cartoons, and of course,
make cinnamon toast. I pray that it will be a blessing to my children and a fond memory for them, too.

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