(Some terminology is specific to my religious congregation if you are not LDS I hope that you can apply this to your congregation or social circles as well)
Having sick kids in the house sure can be exhausting. Your 1 or 3 year-old is sleeping like a newborn, waking every two hours because they are coughing, congested, wheezing and crying. Then not to mention you still have to get up and carry on, every day like the day before.
It sure is tough to know when and where it is appropriate to take your kids when they are in such a state. I have heard some women express how frustrating it is for them when mothers and fathers bring sick children into public places, especially church. And while I do try my best to keep my sick kids home when I can, I cannot help but feel that the side of the story from the parents of sick children who take them into public places needs to be viewed with more compassion.
|Doesn’t do justice to how sick she has been, but there are boogers on them there cheeks.
There are a variety of reasons why a mother may bring a sick child to church, some may seem selfish or inconsiderate but possibly you have not encountered enough desperate moms to understand. Mothers that suffer from depression, who have non-supportive/non-existent husbands, who don’t have close family to rely on or even more sadly not one friend at church to rely on, who need to come to church with their weekly ride to meet with the bishop (clergy) to receive a check to feed their sick and hungry children, who have not been able to take the sacrament for years and that glorious day has come, who are investigating the church (or coming back to Christ or coming to know Christ) and need to be there that day because they have been prompted by the Lord to be there, these women feel they need to be at church, sick child in tow or not.
I feel most of us moms are doing the best we can, and most of us are hanging on by a thread. Rather than us women ganging up on all the moms who have ever made the call to take a child who is sick out of the house, let’s gang up to find a way to alleviate their burdens, to be good friends, and get to know these women better and understand their point of view. Then lovingly and gently introduce them to your view points on children’s health.
An experience I had four years ago dramatically altered my view on children’s health.
My son was born four years ago in February. I lived in Rexburg Idaho, a known stewing pot for RSV and I was a little paranoid about my son’s health. My older sisters, who were also my closest confidants and best friends, were due to visit me and my new bundle of joy. Micah, the oldest, flew in from Georgia for two weeks. K’Leena, a new mother herself, drove up from Utah. When K’Leena arrived I noticed her young daughter had a runny nose. I began to feel anxious that my new little one would get this runny nose and his life would be miserable.
K’Leena was staying with an aunt in a nearby city and I asked her not to come back with her daughter again unless she got better. Seriously one of the biggest regrets of my adult life, I kept my own sister and her sick baby at bay because of my paranoia. It only took a couple of hours for the full measure of what I did to be realized. Unknown to us, K’Leena, a five year career woman was struggling from postpartum depression being a new mother and being home all of the time, on top of that her husband had decided the day before to quit his stable well-paying job to go back to school, with no other job prospect lined up, meaning they would lose their home. She was also feeling some residual animosity from a similar situation with my sister Micah. What I did pretty much broke my sister’s heart, she needed us, her sisters, and because I did not want to be put out with having a sick child I turned a blind eye to her needs. Our relationship has begun to heal but it is a slow process. If there was any way to take back what I did, I would easily endure having a sick baby rather than the chasm that entered our lifelong friendship.
I would hate for any one of you who feel frustrated by this same sort of situation to inadvertently or irreversibly break a mother who is just doing her best. The state of a young mother is a fragile thing. We as women need each other; we need to build each other up.
There are a lot of things in this world we can change, the easiest by far, is ourselves; the hardest, is other people.
After my situation with my sister I decided to change my mind frame. I now just see childhood as a time where runny noses are frequent, where kids get sick and get better. And when they are sick and I am up in the middle of the night for the fifth time cuddling my 18 month old, I try to enjoy that time looking at my sweetheart. Most people with healthy immune systems will not be severely harmed by common viruses, colds, flus, stomach bugs, etc.
I am not propagating irresponsibility with children and illness but I am just hoping to shed some compassion on the hundreds of parents who take their sick children out. And I ask that you please be cautious about what you post on Facebook especially when it comes to peoples actions at church. Your burst of frustration could really make a mother or father feel like a failure in a role they are doing the best they can in.
Christ bore our burdens and commands us to be like him, if the burden we need to bare is having our children be sick for someone else to worship God on a Sunday, perhaps that is ok. .
Wishing you and all your runny-nosed little ones a healthy winter.