I have a rather humbling confession to make... compassion is not my strong suit.
Don't get me wrong. I feel strongly for the wronged in our world. The older I get, as a matter of fact, the more emotional I become about the state of our society. Children with Down syndrome around the world who are abandoned--or even aborted--tear my heart in two. Thoughts of the beautiful people I met in Mozambique three years ago flood me with passion to change the world. Even sentimental commercials make me teary--something that just did.not.happen 10 years ago.
But as a mom, my compassion can be lacking. When my kids mess up, sympathy is not my "go to" response--although I'm working on it. I never thought of myself as an angry person until I had a restless infant, a stubborn toddler, a sassy tween. Oy vey.
And when it comes to sickness, I'm not much better. Oh sure, when my kiddos cry, I think, "My poor baby." But after a while, my compassion is all used up. Sometimes I think the drama is bigger than the illness. But even worse is when I can TELL that it is genuine, and I have done everything I know to do and the tears persist and I think, "Why are you trying to make me feel bad? I have done everything I can for you! Just feel miserable in silence!" Like they are crying at me to make me feel like a bad mom--because, you know, it is obviously all about me. Their sickness and misery and tears couldn't possibly be about them and their own feelings.
Oh my word, I am the worst mom ever.
No, I get it. I recognize that I am not the worst mom EVER. But seriously, this area needs a LOT of work.
So on Monday I got a call from the school nurse that Lamb had a "rash of unidentified origin" on her hands and feet, and even though she felt fine and had no fever, she could not be at school because Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease has been making the rounds. (I took her to the pediatrician later that day, who confirmed that it is indeed Hand, Foot, and Mouth.) For the first two days, it was pretty fun--she felt fine, so we played games, watched movies, even did a little shopping. But sometime on Tuesday afternoon, she took a sharp turn for the worse.
By Thursday, all she wanted was for me to snuggle her. All day. All.day. I was loving it at first. A chance to snuggle my sassy and independent 9-year-old? Yes please! A chance to just hang out and chat and watch "Cupcake Wars"? Definitely! Knowing that my hugs and snuggles could calm her tears? Wahoo! But soon she had to be touching me at every moment, I couldn't even stand up without sending her into a fit of tears. If I managed to sit on the floor while she was on the couch, she could cling to my arm or shoulder. And even when I was right up next to her, she would cry out, "Mommy, I don't feel good! Mommy! MOMMY! I DON'T FEEL GOOD!!!!"
I hate that she doesn't feel good. I HATE that for her. But seriously, I am at the end of myself here.
And then yesterday I got a call from the school nurse. I saw the number and thought, "How nice that they are calling to check up on Lamb." Instead, I heard, "I have Monkey here in the office. I know that his sister is home with Hand, Foot, and Mouth, and he has just a few faint spots on his chin and hands."
Is there a compassion pill I can take somewhere? I'm gonna need an extra dose.