It’s been a long week – Rondel woke up Wednesday morning with a fever but essentially no other symptoms; by Friday he was up to 103 and throwing up. According to the doctor at the urgent care, he had an ear infection and probably strep throat as well, poor kid. We’ve been very thankful for antibiotics and firetruck videos this weekend!
(For anyone else with truck-crazed toddlers, there is a cool series called “Mighty Machines” that we’ve been enjoying. It basically just shows you what different types of trucks do, using real trucks with voice-overs so that it’s like the trucks themselves are describing how they work and what they do. It’s at a kids’ level without talking down to the audience, and has a slow, relaxed feel to it so it won’t get your kid too hyper!)
On top of the sickness, Rondel has been having a resurgence of separation anxiety, which from what I’ve read is fairly common at his age, which means either my husband or I (usually my husband) has been lying down with him to help him go to sleep. (I’m of the opinion that meeting my kids’ needs with love is better than ignoring them, or leaving him to panic and cry alone until he falls asleep from sheer exhaustion – after all, if I were anxious and tired and just wanted someone to hold me – which has definitely happened in my adult life and is more likely to happen at certain hormonal junctures if you know what I mean! – I would feel so much more loved and valued if my husband met those needs. Or wants. But they’re pretty powerful emotional desires, and while I can rationalize enough to understand that they’re not necessarily needs and that my husband has other demands on his time, I don’t expect my two-year-old to have that ability. But I digress.)
Anyway, last night I laid with him and he didn’t fall asleep until almost 10. I kept thinking he was asleep but then I would move and he would roll over and not feel me there and his scared little voice would say, “Mommy?” so I’d have to reassure him again. I was really starting to feel exhausted and exasperated – I just wanted to walk out and tell him it was time to go to sleep, and let him cry, because my reserve of love to give was just about dried up. I tried to pray but even my prayers felt dry, my words hollow, my heart not in it. Maybe this was because I was just praying for him to go to sleep instead of praying for the grace to love him better…
I don’t remember why, but instead of continuing to try to pray those futile, self-centered little prayers of desperation, I started to pray the Rosary over my boy as I sat by the side of his bed and held his hand (my back was hurting too much by that point to continue to lie down next to him). And as the words left my mouth – written, memorized, unoriginal words, as my Protestant background would call them – my heart seemed to fill back up with love. I prayed the three Hail Marys for faith, hope, and love, and I realized my own lack of love for my little boy who just needed and wanted the reassurance of his parents’ presence and love for him. His little hand tightened on my fingers and I thought about how Mary must have felt at the foot of the cross, seeing her baby boy dying in excruciating pain, unable to help him, maybe remembering how his little hand had slipped into hers so trustingly and innocently all those years ago, at that moment when she knew she’d never be able to feel his hand in hers again. And I prayed the first decade for the day – the glorious mystery of the resurrection from the dead – and prayed with all my heart for my son to enter into the fullness of life that her son came to give us, and for my life here and now to be filled with that new and righteous life as well, that I might love more completely.
It’s been a long week but we are not alone. Even in the darkness in the middle of the night, our Mother is there to hold us and help us and take us back to her Son, our Lord, who is even nearer than she, and loves us even more.