Last night I hit publish and logged off the computer. As I stood up and stretched I looked around me at the overwhelming mess; toys, shoes, magazines, dishes, mail, books, all of it scattered on every possible surface as well as the floor. I glanced at the clock and realized that if I started picking up I wouldn’t be in bed before midnight so I gingerly made my way to the light switch and plunged the room into darkness. There, what you can’t see doesn’t matter. Today was gearing up to be a hellish workday and I needed as much shut-eye as possible. The family room mess would just have to wait.
As I turned my back on the chaos and headed to the bedroom where I could already hear M snoring softly I started making a mental to do list of all the things that absolutely needed to get done in the morning. I peered in to see if he’d left a light on for me. Yes, my night stand light was glowing softly, calling me to my side of the welcoming bed. I resisted the urge to just jump into bed and went to check on C, continuing my mental list as I headed to her room.
I tucked her doggy next to her and brushed her hair back from her face. She was sleeping soundly and didn’t even stir as I tiptoed out of her room. I was so close to being in bed my eyes were almost closing prematurely. I hastily brushed my teeth and changed into my pajamas. Almost there. I had moved on from my to do list to just a worried rehashing of all the ways the day could go wrong. Computer glitches, power failures, testy coworkers; any of these things would ensure that my workload was doubled and that alone pretty much guaranteed that one of them would happen.
I turned off the hall light and gently pushed my bedroom door open. On my way to the big bed I stopped by Little L’s tiny crib. She was sleeping so sweetly I almost hesitated to touch her, but force of habit guided my hand to the top of her head. As my hand came into contact with her soft baby hair I froze, all thoughts of bed and work instantly erased from my mind. She was really, really hot. I stifled a groan; I so did not need this, and poked a couple fingers into the leg snaps of her pajamas to confirm what I already suspected. No doubt about it, this kid had a fever. At that very moment she turned her head and gave me a tired smile, her blue eyes gleaming in the dark.
“Oh, bebe, do you have a fever? Let’s see how bad it is.” I whispered to her before heading back out of the room in search of a thermometer. She didn’t make a peep as I changed her wet diaper and took her temperature. My hand rested against her hot little thighs as I waited for the numbers to stop going up. 101.3, 102.7, 102.9, 103, and finally 103.5. “Wow, cutie, you sure aren’t joking around tonight.”
I hesitated by the side of her crib for a moment as she gazed up at me intently, mouth working furiously around her pacifier. It was only 11:30, way too early to feed her, but with a fever like that I sure didn’t want her to get dehydrated. Reason won out and after giving her a dose of Motrin I pulled my hot little baby out of her crib.
She ate hungrily, eyes closed tight and little fists resting gently on either side of my breast. She was so hot that her heat against my bare belly was almost uncomfortable, but as I looked down at her flushed face I didn’t care. She was still so small and vulnerable it made my heart ache to know how sick she must be feeling. Sitting there in the dark my mind tried to wander back to the issue of tomorrow, but Little L’s quiet slurps and movements made it impossible to focus. How could I possibly be worried about flyers and mailings when my baby was so feverish? How could I even think about work when I’d clearly have to be home caring for her?
Keeping her safe and comfortable through the night was the only thing that mattered I thought as I tucked her under the covers next to me. As I curled my body around her feverish form I prayed that the Motrin would kick in soon and bring down her fever. She sighed gently and fell asleep, comforted by my presence. And I fell asleep pondering at the hidden talents of children who, without even trying, manage to remind us that sometimes our priorities are a little off kilter.