George is sick. Just a bad cold, icky nose, crusty eyes, wet cough. Sick little boys want their mamas. Only their mamas.
I’ve been thinking about this lots today because Elizabeth Foss asked us all to pray for her friend, Katie. Katie is a young mom with MS who has had a severe flare and lost the use of her legs. She is doing an emergency wean so that she can start some powerful new MS drugs. I know how hard it is to stop nursing a baby, and I even sort of know how hard it is to not be able to take care of your baby (and husband and everybody else) the way you want to because of medical troubles.
All day today as I’ve struggled with my regular responsibilities… getting my arthritic fingers to fasten Danny’s braces tight enough… lifting George to the bathroom counter to change him…. finding some energy to put dishes in the dishwasher… getting up off the floor after fixing the wireless router… arranging the minute-by-minute schedule for childcare and driving and everything for while I’m out of commission at the end of the week… I’ve thought “Well, at least I can walk.” What would I do? How in the world would I run this household?
But anyway, back to weaning George. This was very traumatic for me. We had worked for months to get him to breastfeed, then I had successfully nursed after one mastectomy, but once I started chemotherapy, it was over. You know what my biggest worry was? With my others, even when we had nannies, even when I was working, nursing was the one thing that only I could do for my babies. They depended on me alone for that sustenance.
I know this is going to sound silly, but he was so young, and we knew so little at that time about how severely his Downs would impact him cognitively. When I had to wean George, I worried that if I wasn’t nursing him, he wouldn’t know there was any difference between me and anybody else taking care of him.
If I wasn’t nursing him, how would he know that he was supposed to love me best?
And then I worried that because I had to delegate so much George care to other people, he would REALLY get confused. For a while there, I think somebody different put him to sleep every night. It was so hard (OK, let’s be honest… it IS so hard) not being able to take care of him the way I wanted to.
Fast forward to now. After another mastectomy, relactation wasn’t an option. We’re working diligently with a speech therapist who is an expert on feeding issues, but George is still drinking formula out of a bottle. Oh well.
But the big thing is this: When George is tired, or sad, or sick, or wants someone to watch him do his new puzzle VERY FAST, or is worried because the box of Triscuits is empty, I often ask one of the big kids to take care of him for just a minute until I can get there… I move slowly and don’t multitask at all.
At least once a day, I hear words that in any other situation, about any other child, I’d find frustrating or a burden.
“Mom, he just won’t stop crying!” or “Mom, George is just NOT falling asleep for me.” or “Mom, I can’t fix it this time.” or whatever.
Then, no matter how tired or sick I am, or how much I’m hurting, the next sentence is joy to my heart: They say, “I’ve tried, but all he wants is you, mom!”