There are moments of parenting that take you to the highest peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Those smiles that break into laughter when you chase them around the house holding a stuffed penguin who is chasing what at the moment has declared himself a whale shark. And that laugh, like a wind chime. Like a cake made of sugar and sunshine. Like nothing else matters in the world but this moment.
And those conversations. When you’re discussing why he can’t have a pet dinosaur. And the why’s stretch out, each new answer leading to a new question until you’re asking about the very nature and existence of the universe.
And then, there are those moments you’re treading water in the bottom of a dark barrel.
The sickness has not abated. The fever that left, snuck back before bedtime with a vengeance. And it’s been a rough night whose prequel was a rougher day. One of those days where the belly aches with hunger, but the food burns as it goes down the throat. And books and television can only distract so much. And while hugs are appreciated, he doesn’t understand how I, this former healer of all cuts and scrapes with a kiss and a magic touch, can’t take away this pain.
Mama, he wailed. I’m sick. And then stared plaintively at me. Blinking. Tears streaming down his face. And waiting. Expecting. And not understanding why I can’t take the pain away. Let’s go back to the doctor. Not that doctor. A new doctor. That doctor did not make me better. We need new doctor.
And we will go. Just as soon as they open. And sit for hours in a waiting room full of coughs and sneezes while I do my best to shield the baby and block out worries about what new thing the toddler will catch on this lovely outing. And fight the exhaustion of being up all night and then up for the day at 6:20 by a certain infant.
And I will smile and I will comfort and I will soothe. And I will count my blessings of which there are numerous. For insurance. For a partner in this who might let me nap at some point today, I can’t imagine those who do this alone. And for the belief I will continue to cling to, that this will get better because for so many this sleepless, exhausted reality, worried about your kid is a constant and daily battle with no end date in sight. I don’t know my end date, but inshallah it is coming.
And as I sit among strewn toys, and half-eaten graham cracker rabbits, I will dream of scaling Mount Kilimanjaro again. I swear I can see it’s peaks in the horizon even from where I sit today.