In between the awful and amazing

February has been, how should I say it... uninspiring.

I've learned that until my chemistry, psychology or geography changes it's not wise to have high expectations for myself during the deepest heart of winter. My goal this time of year is to keep the show running (bare bones as necessary), deeply care for myself and attend to my needs, and do as much creative stuff as possible.

I suppose I have those same goals all year round but that's pretty much all I can realistically hope to do during February. Whereas in my "high seasons" I have the energy to do all that and more.

The weather was uncooperative for skiing last week. It rained. Plus, we had a sick kid, so, no skiing on all accounts.

There was a lice outbreak at homeschool co-op. We've been spared, so far. The co-op families are doing all they can to contain and not spread the little buggers; a co-op day was cancelled and the other classes this month have been sparsely attended, as all infected families are asked to stay home.

Laurent is sick. I'm pretty sure it's a mild case of the flu and not a run-of-the-mill cold. I've been watching, temperature-taking, and nursing with as much diligence as I can muster.

I don't like it when my kids get sick. (No one does.) I don't like the interruption, the unexpected-ness of it all. I don't like to see my kids suffer. And I really don't like the shame and blame game, feeling like I'm a bad mother because I didn't somehow prevent this through a) essential oils b) homemade bone broth (insert current nutritional wisdom here), or c) better mommy-ing skills in general.

This is the "if I was a really good mom my kids wouldn't get sick" train of thought. Totally a lie but one I can easily fall for.

I'm not a naturally nurturing person, I'm efficient. And sickness, like travel, is so inefficient. I never know exactly what's going on. I try a bunch of natural remedies but I'm not sure what, if anything (besides Ibuprofen and Buckley's), is working.

My main strategies for sickness are: stay home, rest and fluids, but I feel there is probably way more I could be doing. More herbs, more oils, more remedies, more something.

I've been taking care of my kiddos through winter sickness for years but it doesn't seem to get any easier for me. It's like I get out of practice between bouts of sickness. I forget what to watch for, I've let our supplies run low, and I don't seem to administer the right remedies at the right time. I miss the window of opportunity to nip it in the bud. It doesn't help that I used up all the elderberry extract when I was fighting an infection in December.

Getting sick, avoiding head lice and no skiing are like a forced at-home stay-cation, right? Or house arrest.

My problem is not that these interruptions slow life down or keep us at home. I love being home and I am all for slowing down. I'm the person who stands at the gate of our family life holding back the beast called busy. I regularly choose slow and less over fast and more.

What I don't like is when the patterns and systems that are comforting to me, my routines and rhythms, are interrupted. And when I feel inept at mothering.

But February hasn't been awful, inconveniencing yes, but not terrible. I can get myopic fairly easily. Writing helps me get a grip.

There is a hugely popular quote floating around on the internet, with good reason. I love these words.

Life isn't amazing right now but it's not awful, not even close.

Before the flu hit our home we hung out with friends when co-op was cancelled due to lice. We made popcorn and chili and shared knitting tutorials and life stories.

The interruption to my usual homeschool routine also opened a window of time to chat, completely spontaneously, with a dear friend on the phone. And there was that Wednesday I stayed in my pj's till mid-afternoon, which is nice to do, once in a while.

I function best in well-oiled routines and systems, yet I also find them a bit constricting and I imagine myself accomplishing so much when I don't have a schedule to keep. So when a day opens up, free, because of lice, a sick kid, or rain at the ski hill, I think "now's my day to do great things I don't usually have time for". A sewing project, a whack of writing, or hang art and photos on our walls (a job I haven't finished since our move last summer). But that just doesn't work for me. It turns out I get more accomplished, slow and steady, in the routines of life than in what feels like wide open spaces of a "free day".

This threw me off over the past couple weeks, days opened up, but then seemed to be swallowed whole by inefficiency and my non-characteristic flighty nature when out of my usual rhythms.

Currently, one kid lays on his bed all day watching copious quantities of Netflix, On Guard infusing the room, while the other two carry-on with a full schedule of school and social engagements, happy and healthy, for now.

Scratch that. Just as I prepared to hit publish it seems another one may be going down for the count. This time I'm ready. There is no wait and see, there is infuse, diffuse, decoct, apply and minister. I even found dregs in the bottle of the elderberry tincture, drink up baby.

And so February slows down to this: giving love and care to my people, love and care to myself.

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  • Francie

    Francie on Feb. 9, 2016, 6:05 p.m.

    I hope everyone gets up and running again soon! Funny, mothering my kids when they get sick (thankfully not often) is actually one aspect of parenting I feel pretty good at. Patience can be challenging for me during our routine days, but something clicks when they get sick and I get super calm and caring and confident. The only time I remember feeling guilty for letting the sickness happen in the first place was when my son had his first ear infection as an infant and the nurse scolded me for failing to aspirate his nose adequately during a cold. (That said, even with two other adults holding him down, he resisted so hard that I felt unable to aspirate his nose safely!) Time is the number one cure for so many things, and my job is to provide empathy and run around with water and thermometers and, as you put it so nicely, (insert current nutritional wisdom here). If we can do that, and model a generally healthy lifestyle, then I don't think we need to measure our success by the length of the illness or whether it occurs in the first place. That wouldn't be a fair fight.


  • Nana

    Nana on Feb. 9, 2016, 6:58 p.m.

    You are doing all the great Mom-nurse things you can do - I will pray for grace and healing over your household, which is the only thing I can do. Love, Mom



  • Lisa

    Lisa on Feb. 9, 2016, 7:14 p.m.

    Funny, I know how you feel about not being sure what to do when the kids are sick. When I get that way, I just think back to my training as an herbalist, and my wise herb teachers who said "less is more" (usually) with herbs and the body will heal itself even without them. Unless it won't, in which case it's time for the doctor or some major herbal work. But really, for the flu, you can rest easier knowing that your kids will recover. You're a watchful, observant mama and they'll get through it. Now I feel like knocking on wood, though, because we haven't had the flu this year and I don't want it! I hope all are better soon at your house.



  • Sarah

    Sarah on Feb. 9, 2016, 7:16 p.m.

    I think sickness is one of those things we can't avoid as mothers. I don't see it as my "fault" - it happens to everyone, doesn't it? Even to people who live super-healthy.

    I usually try to take the opportunity to spend a bit extra time with that sick child which I otherwise probaby wouldn't. With the little ones I can still snuggle in bed and chat, or I can do extra nice things for them, listen to them, read to them, make them tea and hot water bottles or whatever they need at the time. I feel it is another good opportunity to make them feel loved and cared for. Just as I am very glad when someone cooks for me or makes me tea when I am sick or just too tired.

    I hope you all get well soon and can enjoy the rest of the winter! :-)



  • Jennifer

    Jennifer on Feb. 9, 2016, 7:20 p.m.

    I'm sort of feeling the same way about winter...just more survival than growth.  But that's a rhythm akin to nature, right? A time and a purpose....  May everyone feel better soon!


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