Sick Kid

Our four-year-old was in the hospital this week.

I held her hand in the operating room as the anesthesia took her away. Ken stroked her hair as all three of us snuggled in a tiny adjustable bed. We listened through the night to her labored breaths and whimpers. I brought her juice and water and popsicles and applesauce, and did my best to explain why all of this happened.

In return, she called me the worst mommy ever and spit medicine into my hair. She screamed and hit and peed her pants.

A sick child is pitiful. There is almost nothing I wouldn’t give to trade places, to suffer myself and take on her pain.

But yesterday, punch drunk and nerve-fried after yet another battle over those chalky, pink antibiotics, I hid in the hallway, downed an entire box of Junior Mints, and wished she would just shut up. I cursed Ken for eating the last Ramen noodles. I yelled at the other two for spilling Gatorade on the carpet. I WAS the worst mommy ever.

And this was just a 90-minute procedure. A couple of days in the hospital. A couple more recovering at home. Minor surgery.

But minor surgery is what happens to other people’s children. When it comes to our own, there is no such thing.

Even though I will be fine and Lizzie will be fine and all of this will pass, I’m grateful for the friends and family who have swooped in and saved me from myself. Who have asked what I need. And when I said, ‘nothing,’ dropped off chicken soup and coloring books and balloons anyway.

Today, I’m tipping my hat to parents who regularly nurse sick children, who live these weeks of sleep deprivation and ingratitude all the time. It’s okay if you are not always up to the task. You don’t have to be. We are all out here, and we can help.

When I emerge from this post-surgery frazzle, I’ll look for those silently suffering moms and dads. That gal in the preschool pickup line whose clothes look like jammies. That fellow in the park with a five o’clock shadow at noon. I’ll drop by with a fresh loaf of challah bread and some coffee, or even a box of Junior Mints. When it comes to caring for these kiddos, no one should have to go it alone.



Day 2 in the hospital with Lizzie, recovering from her 4th cleft palate surgery.  Bad sleep, worse food, and a kid in pain.  Easy to feel sorry for ourselves, until we see the nurse sprinting from the OR with a tiny white cooler.


Minivan Apocalypse

Why is there so much apple sauce in our glove compartment?


Why is there so much applesauce in our glove compartment?


Butterfly Stickers

I don’t pretend that my life is especially difficult. But balancing school and work and family can be a real headache at times. My wife is finishing her master’s degree while working full time, so I spend much of the day with our 2-year old, Katie. She definitely gets priority over law school, but I still have to keep up with classes. Most of my reading happens after Katie goes to bed, which makes for some pretty late nights. When assignments are due, I know to expect that low throbbing pain to work its way up my shoulders, into my head.

Still, I almost always look forward to Katie’s bedtime ritual, even though every minute I read books to her is a minute of sleep I’ll never get back. But last week we had one pretty tough day together, and by nighttime, I was too tired even for Dr. Seuss. Katie had been to the pediatrician for vaccinations, and they made her feel just lousy.

We took our usual pre-bedtime bath, and I could see where the shots had gone into her thigh. There was some red swelling. She pointed and said “Owee, Daddy.” Her little voice can break my heart, especially when it says she’s in pain. It was time for some fatherly magic – I went into the medicine cabinet and got a sheet of twenty tiny butterfly stickers from next to the Band-Aids. With all the fake seriousness I could muster, I peeled one off and stuck it where the shot had gone. “All better,” I said.

She smiled weakly. I got her jammies on, turned off the lights, and tucked her into bed. “Lorax?” she asked, hoping I’d read her favorite Dr. Seuss book. “Not tonight honey,” I said. I laid down beside her and sang songs with my eyes closed.

I don’t know how much time passed, but I awoke in the dark. I could hear Katie’s breathing, and knew she was asleep. And my head – it didn’t hurt at all. The skin felt tight, but the ache was gone. I got up, leaned over to kiss Katie’s cheek, and quietly left. I stopped in the bathroom to splash some water on my face, and looked into the mirror. And there, stuck to my forehead, were 19 magical butterflies.