As a grandparent, I am well aware of the fact that I forget a lot of stuff. I forget when I’m supposed to be at the dentist, for example. And I forget why I just walked into the living room.
But that isn’t what’s important.
No. What I think is important, as a grandparent who is completely engaged in the lives of my grandchildren every single day, is that I have forgotten what it feels like to take care of a sick child.
I forgot about the comforting/suffocating smell of Vicks Vaporub wafting through the house. I forgot, for some unexplained reason, how it feels to spread that very same Vicks on my chest, under a clean cloth, so that I can hold a coughing, wheezing child close to my heart. Knowing that the camphor smell would help that child to breathe.
I have forgotten what it feels like to wipe those dripping noses, every two minutes. And what it feels like to smooth a bit of lotion on that red, sore upper lip.
I can guarantee that I have forgotten what it feels like to be stuck in the house with a child or two who can only be soothed by two hours of some TV show that is so unbearably sweet that you actually think about getting yourself some insulin.
Surprisingly, I seem to have forgotten what it feels like to keep water steaming on the stove. And what it feels like to cup my hands and tap, tap, clap, bang against a child’s congested lungs.
I’m reminded of all of that this week, though. Both of my grandkids are down and out with a nasty cold. Both have had the endlessly running nose, the deep cough, the lack of appetite.
Both of them have needed extra hugs, extra rocking and (God help me) extra episodes of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.”
I’ve been running, cleaning, washing, rocking, dosing, cleaning again, listening to lungs, checking ears, rubbing backs, feeding again and cleaning again.
I had forgotten how it feels to be covered head to toe in germ infested snot. I had forgotten how it feels to clean up the choked over and redeposited snacks. I had somehow forgotten how gently one has to wash a red, irritated face as a little one cries.
But you know what?
I had also, somehow, managed to forget how sweet it feels to sit still on a cold winter day with two sick children wrapped in my arms. I had forgotten the heart filling feeling of cuddling a feverish little body in my arms. Of singing the wordless humming tunes that would ease that little one into sleep.
I had forgotten the joyful burst of love that comes in the moment when a sick little baby pulls his head back and looks into your face. I had forgotten how special and how empowering it feels when that baby looks up and sighs and settles his aching head against your heart once again.
I wish everyone a healthy Christmas, with no snots, no wheezes, no fevers. But if you are hit by those illnesses, I wish you a few moments of sweet pleasure as you enfold those hot little bodies in your loving arms.