John is sick today. Not bedridden or anything, just a fever and periodic sinking spells. Obviously, I’m not happy that he’s sick. I’d gladly have his fever for a week to help him feel better just for today. But. Since he is sick, and since there’s not a whole lot I can do about it, I have to admit that there’s one tiny bright side. When John’s sick, I let myself be a lazy mom.
Before I go any further, let me note that I’m not trying to judge the way anyone parents. I think we can all agree that having kids (even just one) has turned out to be way more complicated than we thought, and every person has to figure out his or her own way to get the job done. Whatever works for you is fine with me.
But for me, I’m a rules person. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of three kids where structure was the only defense against utter chaos. I think John was only a couple of months old when I first started down this road – insisting that he sleep more at night, for example. Now that he’s older, we’ve got bedtime routines, specific mealtimes, tidy rooms and very serious table manners conversations. He’s a pretty opinionated kid and a great negotiator (wonder where he gets that from…), so Matt and I spend a decent amount of time every day discussing and finally insisting on the routines and rituals (and general good manners) that we’ve decided are important.
When John’s sick, on the other hand, I pretty much just say yes to everything. Crackers and peanut butter for dinner? Yes. Watch Toy Story? Yes. Elbows on the table? Sure thing. Carry him around even though I can hardly lift him? Heck, yes. He’s sick, and that’s a great time to let things happen however they need to. And it lets me be the indulgent, complacent, and yes, lazy mom that I’d secretly love to be all the time. What a relief! What a vacation from consequences and worrying about bad habits and unfortunate precedents!
I have to assume that he enjoys this as much as I do, although I’m pretty sure he’s clear on the parameters. Tomorrow, I’ll be telling him again that he has to make his bed before he does anything else. But right now he’s on my lap and I think we might both eat some ice cream later.