A couple days back I was thinking about parenting and what it means. Yesterday, I realized yet again what it means as I took my little swollen boy to the doctor. His face all swollen to 3 times it size, I was expecting to hear he had an abscess or something. His pain was big, and he was unhappy that he couldn't eat. I got him into the on-call doctor at 5:20 and when we arrived the doctor immediately looked at him, and told me "He's got the mumps."
Mumps? How does that happen when we vaccinate our kids to protect them? How often in this day and age do you hear about someone contracting mumps? And where did it come from? It was the furthest thing from my mind when I first noticed his swelled cheeks, recognized that he was being a bit less wild, a bit more reserved. When he cried out in pain upon eating a spoon-full of his favorite cereal, I knew it was time to take some action. I picked him up and rocked him, brought him a glass of water, held onto my little guy, kissing his head and rubbing his pained little body.
This morning, his face is even more swollen. He woke with a fever and in tears, and as I spent my first waking hours sitting in a chair watching cartoons while holding my little guy, I recognized the importance of my job. Being a mama is about offering your child security and comfort. Even when you can't take away the hurt, those little kisses and the softenss of your bosom offer enough to help ease the pain. Offering an ice pack and wiping away tears is all he needs to know that you care.
I'm hoping for good news in the coming days as his pain subsides and our home becomes mumps-free. I'm hoping nobody else catches it, nobody else has to feel the pain of this long-ago common childhood illness which today is just something you once heard of. I'm going to give my child lots of cuddles, keep him hydrated, keep his fever at bay, knowing that this is what being a parent means...mumps and all.