After one dose of Tylenol slowly drained in tears, oldest son snuggles beneath the plush purple blanket, soft and soothing despite the random pattern of holes worn clean through. I lay beside him and draw his head close beneath my chin. Every few seconds, his eyes flutter open, glance my way. He says nothing, but I know he's making sure I haven't left yet.
At almost five, Wyatt doesn't let me love him like this often, me stroking his forehead, watching the rise and fall cadence of his chest until his breathing slows and sleep consumes. Even then, I lay there, not really wanting to leave this place where I feel most like a mother.
But--always the but--there is extra laundry now to be disinfected, school papers to give feedback on, and a younger son staring in interest at me from across the room, only his blue eyes shining out from beneath high-tucked blanket as he waits for this mommy to turn out the lamp so he can sleep as well.
Wyatt lay sleeping on sofa all afternoon, unusual stillness for this one so full of life, boundless energy. His stomach hurt and the thermometer showed a low fever, so I let him sleep while I played with twins on the upper floor. When he woke, he kept asking, "Is daddy home? When is daddy coming home?" and "My brain hurts."
When mommy wasn't good enough, I figured I was in for it. Even so, I still haven't figured out why illnesses break through a body's defenses to spike at the dividing line between night and day. Here I was again, 9:00 at night and a sudden resurgence of fever, blasting through the ranks to 104, enough to make Wyatt nauseous and my night endless.
I already know there won't be much sleep tonight, too many hours before me of unpaid heart labor. My only prayer is that this is a simply 24 hour bug, that no one else gets infected.
As I write this, the washer whirs in the silence of nighttime, its rhythm mesmerizing, enticing me to prop elbows on its glass lid and lean face inwards to watch its magic dance reminiscent of The Nutcracker's "Waltz of the Flowers."
This is not what I wanted to write this evening. Before, my thoughts were consumed by a book I've been reading, its concept of meekness. But now? The not knowing consumes my thoughts, sharpens my maternal radar to be alert for all symptoms. It's the not knowing what the illness is, how long it will last, what toll it will take on my loved ones, whether I should seek a doctor's care or let it run its course--so many unknowns to bring before the One who knows all.
It seems nightfall is the time for many of the battles I face. It's the time when life stops spinning long enough for worry to set in, anxiety to overwhelm, and fear to find the mental soil open to take root.
While days are too filled and busy with children to even consider not trusting God in those moments, after dark is sometimes when I must fight the hardest, take sword of truth to phantoms of insecurity and prayers to counter the enemy's lies.
All I can do is pray. It sounds silly--all I can do is pray. To make it through this illness and the next and the next, I must not just say it but believe it to be enough.
In the end, it's how I fight the battle as much as winning it that matters.