Now that Cooper was napping and I had all of this free time, I wondered what all I could do. Go on a bike ride? Too irresponsible, what with the sleeping, sick baby and all. Read a book? Too ... studious. Get ahead on my writing for work? Too responsible. Do a massive overhaul of everyone’s clothes? PERFECT!
So, I spent the first hour of Cooper’s nap engaged in a ritual that I’ve dubbed “Sad Boxing.” This involves me emptying out the drawers of one (or both) boys and examining the labels. Anything that is clearly too small gets put into a “sad box.” This originally started when Jackson was an infant and beginning to grow out of clothes. I was so emotional when this proof of his everlasting growth and maturity began to materialize, that I couldn’t even weed out too-small clothes without turning it into an event. The original sad box is barely larger than a shoebox, and holds all of J’s original 0–3 month clothes and many of my tears.
I’ve been putting this particular rotation of clothes off for a while for a few reasons. One, it was a huge, disorganized mess from the last attempt. As I put tiny clothes away, I also pull down the appropriate box of Jackson’s to fit Cooper. So, it’s no easy feat. It’s also a little sad because there’s not another baby coming around to fit into the tiniest clothes. Since Jackson is twenty-two months older than Cooper, his baby clothes got put back into rotation almost immediately.
My blogmother, Catherine Newman, when describing how she feels about the newborns of others, she says she’s moved beyond nostalgia to flat-out envy. I totally get that. I’m one of the rare folks who loves those first few weeks of babyhood. My goodness, they coo, sleep, eat, and poop. They’re awake for eight minutes, get fussy, and repeat the cycle. I know I was totally sleep-deprived, but there was something about the utterly changed rhythm of those days that I loved. My first maternity leave with Jackson was so liberating. My only job, each day, was to wake up and care for this amazing little flapping creature and make sure that he didn’t perish. Beyond that, anything else I did was gravy. Shower? A huge accomplishment! Lunch? Totally optional! Vacuum? Not a chance!
So, while my still-a-baby boy slept in his big-boy bed, I switched out his wardrobe. I packed away two boxes of clothes that have no promise of being seen on a baby any time soon, and with a heavy heart, headed downstairs to enjoy some quiet time of my own.
I made the mistake of doing what I always used to do on my lunch breaks at home: watching A Baby Story on TLC. It’s hugely clichéd, but this was my ritual: wake up, eat breakfast, nurse baby, pass time, nurse baby, put baby to bed, eat a meal with both hands while watching TV. shows of other people’s babies, retrieve and nurse own baby, etc. But yesterday, it was too much. I turned it off and pointed myself to more productive activities: conquering Matt’s laundry. Just for kicks, here’s a short list of the things I found in Matt’s pockets:
- A chewed-up lid to an Arden’s Garden smoothie
- Wadded up Kleenex
- Ketchup packets (Seriously. Ketchup? Matt doesn’t even like ketchup! Even he was confused by this.)
- $ 0.57, mostly in pennies
It was a nice pile of plunder. I also did seven loads of laundry yesterday afternoon. Seven. As in, the number of completion. Laundry rules my life in an evil and cruel way. Mainly because I don’t mind doing the laundry, but I can’t ever seem to get around to folding it, so it sits in corners, glibly tormenting me with its helplessness and inability to do anything but wait on me to put it away. But yesterday, during Cooper’s marathon nap, I caught up on every piece of laundry in our room. It feels surreal, like the house elves I’ve been praying for finally showed up to do their job.
(Seriously—how great would it be to have actual house elves to clean while we were away?! I would suspend a hefty portion of reality to make this so.)
By the time Cooper woke up, he was feeling tremendous. Aside from the fact that he ate four bowls of applesauce yesterday and little else, it was as if nothing had ever happened. We went and got J from school, who lamented the fact that he had to be there “alone” all day. He missed his baby brother, in sweet and almost surprising ways.
Since Matt was teaching his class, the boys and I spent the evening together, playing in the backyard and tinkering with our bikes. We had chicken soup and crusty bread for dinner. We tumbled into bed easily and early. We sang together our new closing for the day:
God we thank you (God we thank you),
For our day (for our day)!
All of us together (all of us together),
Thank you, God (thank you, God).
(Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)
It was the best kind of sick day—one that didn’t involve much sickness, really. Cooper and I got to spend some rare and wonderful time together, and we were grateful for this unexpected gift of a day, a single day, that gave us the opportunity to stop and rest and work where we needed it the most. At home.
Here’s to sick days that call us home, for rest, love, and comfort.
(Part 1) | Part 2