It’s 12:34 p.m., prime naptime at the Watts house. It’s three days before Christmas. My to-do list is depending on the few productive moments I have that are childfree. Naps and after 7:30 p.m. are my only times to get things done. But here I am, rocking my sick little Luke, the soft hum of the humidifier and smell of menthol filling the room. He won’t sleep. His hot little head against my chest, we just rock. I let the to-do list slip from my mind, and I hold him tight, wishing I could kiss it and make it all better.
It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness and demands of the holidays, especially with kids. So many fun things to do, see, make, buy and eat! As I sit here in the dark room, rocking, I let myself just drift into a state of gratefulness. I am even grateful that my kids are sick, because even though it put the brakes on a lot of our pre-Christmas activities, I am just happy they should be feeling better by Christmas Day.
I had to swallow a sob thinking about how grateful I am that I even have a little one to rock. A dear friend almost lost her baby to a rare case of infant botulism earlier this year. I see in her eyes that ever-present gratefulness every time she’s holding him now.
I’m grateful that I can sit here rocking my second child because my older son is tucked safely in his bed with his big boy underwear on. He’s probably dreaming of the train set that Santa will be bringing him. I’m so grateful for all the milestones James has made this year, even though he’s not been an easy 3-year-old.
I’m grateful that I can be home with our sick boys while my husband works. And when he walks in that door at the end of the day, drained, he willingly jumps in wherever I ask him to. Though I know there are pros and cons to both staying at home with the kids and having a career, I don’t envy those women who have to leave their sick little ones in others’ arms so that they can provide for their families. My close friend who is a single mom reminds me every day that I am so blessed to have a partner in this rough journey of parenthood.
I even think about how grateful I am for all the mistakes I’m making as a parent. I’m pretty transparent with my boys, letting them know that mommy messes up too. Though it can be humbling to stoop down to a toddler and admit you’re sorry, I hope that one day they will remember that parents don’t have to be perfect, just as they don’t have to be perfect kids for us to love them unconditionally. James’ favorite phrase right now after a time-out or stern talk is, “But I still love you Mommy!”
So the Christmas cards won’t be sent till probably New Years. Those special wine glasses won’t get washed before dinner, and frankly, dinner may not even get prepared today. But I’m grateful to be here, in this moment, rocking my now slumbering sick baby boy. I’m being the best mom I can possibly be, sharing the love that I believe has been shared unto me.
In the words of the wise Linus, “And that Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is all about.”
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 2-year-old James and almost 1-year-old Luke.