Calling in Sick
Guest writer, Abby Reph
I’m convinced that there are few more explicit tortures than caring for children while one is sick. I don’t even mean really laid up, like with the flu or pneumonia. I mean a sore throat. That’s all it takes to make my knees buckle and my brain start to conjure images of the injustices of slavery.
To be frank, I’d rather have a broken limb than a sore throat. I don’t know why; maybe it’s that I use my voice every minute of the day to instruct/encourage/sing/read/(yell) at my kids, so if the voice pipe hurts it really feels like a handicap. Whatever the reason, the instant I’m unwell all I want to do is have a responsible adult drive my children to the safety of their home so I can nurse myself back to health like I would when I was childless: lying on the couch, books, television, copious hot drinks, and most importantly, peace.
Since this is impossible, I usually cope another way: despair.
I had a two-day stretch of sore throat last week, with the accompanying body aches, and I sort of shuffled about muttering short prayers, like “Please, Jesus, give me strength,” because the kids’ needs don’t diminish an ounce when I’m ill, which makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t they suddenly be able to make a simple lunch? At age three and one, can’t they sense that Mom is down for the count? So I pray. And whine a little.
This particular week we had Forest Class (only in the PNW, right?) on one of the days I didn’t feel well, and at first I bemoaned having to get them all out the door by 8:45. It’s a ton of work to get three kids ready and in the car by any time, and we needed extra outerwear because it was raining buckets. After accomplishing this, admittedly a little late, I felt the Lord shifting my attitude a touch: wasn’t it fortunate that we had class today, so I wasn’t at home trying to entertain the kids all morning by myself? What on earth would I have done with them, hardly being able to speak? Instead, they got time with lots of little kids, fully vocal adults, and the adventure of raindrops that fall on their nose and eyelashes. “This is not a chore,” I felt the Lord saying, “this is a mercy. Watch for them.”
“This is not a chore,”
I felt the Lord saying, “this is a mercy.
Watch for them.”
Lunch came together easily (mercy), they took great naps at the same time (mercy), and when they woke up and it was still raining I remembered my husband’s words from that morning, “It’s OKAY to let them watch some TV. You’re sick!” So I fired up Daniel Tiger and they were delighted and I was relieved (mercy mercy).
Then came the greatest mercy I never anticipated: Mike walked in the door at 3PM, and I couldn’t have loved him more. I practically fell on him in a grateful hug. Almost immediately, it occured to me that because of God giving me grace throughout the day, I was actually fine by that point. I wasn’t uttering desperate pleas anymore. He didn’t give them to me all at once (taking the kids away so I could recover on my deserted island) but he gave them out one by one, like I was swinging vine-to-vine high above the forest floor. Mercy after mercy until I landed safely on the other side.
My husband reminded me that I need taking care of too, at times, and by doing so he reminded me that God is always taking care of me. While my eyes are always on my children, His eyes are on me too, because I’m one of His children. And, blessed be He, He never needs a sick day from a one of us.