Everyone in my family has the stomach flu. It's been a blur of children piled half-awake on the couch in their jammies while holding their respective barf bowls. We've subsisted on toast and Gatorade as we nap our way through cartoons. And the laundry. Oh, the laundry!
Sunshine, my 3-year-old, comes into my room tonight, her cheeks rosy with fever. I'm working on my laptop, trying to finish something I am behind on, and she asks if she can snuggle with me.
"Okay, but no talking because I'm working," I say.
"Okay mommy." At which point she decides to sing exuberantly:
"And then FINALLYYYY mommy got off her laptop, and FINALLLY she turned on Ariel and we snuggled and FINALLY she was done on her laptop ... "
I teeter between annoyed and amused. I tell her to go brush her teeth with daddy while I finish up. I set down my laptop when she comes in, and she climbs into bed next to me. I kiss her forehead, she kisses mine and we giggle.
"Did you know you are my favorite little girl in the whole wide world?" I ask.
"You're the best mommy in the world."
Oh. My heart. I live for these sappy moments.
I tell her to turn over and I tickle her back, hoping she will fall asleep. Her skin is hot and I watch her eyelids flutter between the brink of sleep and consciousness.
Then she turns and faces me and lucidly proclaims "Mommy, now I tickle your back."
"No, no, I'm okay. How about I sing," I say.
I sing You are my Sunshine in my softest whisper, at which point she breaks out into her own rendition of "You are my mommy, my only mommy."
Gradually, her giggles and questions fade until I hear the faint rhythm of a snore. I look at her cherubic face and feel a pang of guilt for all the times I've turned her away today when she asked to snuggle, because I was busy.
I picture my elderly self, hunched and gray, dialing her number with a shaky hand, hoping to ease the aches and loneliness of old age with the sound of my daughter's voice.
"Sorry mom. I'm so busy — could you call me back later?"
I make a promise to myself to be more present, to sing more songs and share more giggles. To spend more time looking into my children's eyes and less time staring at screens.
Tomorrow, I will be better. Tomorrow.
Rory is a slightly neurotic mom to three young children and an intern at Parentmap. She recently taught herself to play the accordion through Youtube videos and can often be found hiding from her kids in the closet while eating chocolate chips (which she aspires to bake something with but never does). Her perfect day would include a trip to a local beach with her children, taco truck tacos for dinner, and roasting marshmallows around a campfire with friends. You can see more of her musings about parenting at ParanoidStayAtHomeMom.