When I met up with my mom this morning to drop the kids off before work, I recounted to her the events of the weekend and how miserable Ryan had been feeling. She looked at me and said, "Oh, he probably has an ear infection."
BAM. Duh. How did I not think of that?
I had been so worried about Ryan contracting the swine flu, or the bird flu, strep throat, or even some kind of weird internal organ cancer. I had totally blanked on the most obvious thing. Ear infections. As my husband put it, "I forgot kids could get those."
Because I'm only a temporary employee who needs to impress my coworkers and superiors by actually showing up to work regularly (and I used up a sick day last week when Ryan was feverish), I set up a doctor's appointment for Ryan and left the kids in my mom's more-than-capable hands.
Turns out, my mom was right. As always. But Ryan did not just have an ear infection. He had a double ear infection. Poor kid!
I immediately felt a twinge of guilt that I could not be there for Ryan's appointment. To cuddle and rock him as he whimpered in the exam room. But that little twinge of guilt was quickly foreshadowed by a mountain of guilt over something else. Ryan had been feeling bad all weekend and I had been incapable of figuring out what was wrong with him. I had assumed he would get better over time and that it was just some horrible bug. If I had taken him to Urgent Care on Saturday morning, he could have received medicine much sooner and wouldn't have had to suffer all weekend. Instead, I sat around complaining about how crabby he was and how he was cramping my style.
I felt horrible. Like the lowest of the low.* As I sat at my desk I wanted nothing more than to rush home to Ryan and give him an "I'm sorry" hug. I tried not to dwell on it throughout the day. At least hank we caught the infection before his ear drums burst open like a bloated pinata.
When the day was over and I arrived at my mom's house, I rushed through the door eagerly to find my sweet Ry-Guy, talking happily. When he saw me, he smiled broadly, ran in my direction, and yelled excitedly, "Mama! Mama!" I knew immediately that I was forgiven. That my crabbiness over the weekend was forgotten. And I was blown away and amazed by the unconditional and freely-given love of a child.
A young child does not know resentment. A young child does not know bitterness. A young child does not know revenge. When your child looks at you, he does not see shortcomings, or failures, or insecurities, or flaws, or even a person who needs to be less self-centered. When your child looks at you, he only sees you. His mother. His first love. His source of life. The woman who will always hold his hand and his heart. He only knows how to love you. And there is nothing you can do to stop that.
*Until I realize that women who do crack while pregnant are probably lower than me and then I feel a teeny bit better. At least I don't make crack babies. Right?