I want to talk about hide and seek.
You know how you keep begging me to play, and I keep saying, “Not right now,” but I say it in that really grumpy voice that makes you cry? I’m really sorry about that.
I’m sorry that I never want to go to the playground, or even jump on the trampoline. I’m really extra sorry that when you gather around me because you want to help make dinner, I do that scary bird thing with my hands and tell you, “Back off! Let me breathe! Leave me alone!” I know you’d be really good helpers. I know you’re big now and you’ll try really hard not to make a mess.
It’s just, I’m a little bit sick. It’s not the tummy ache kind of sick, or the coughing kind of sick. It’s a feelings kind of sick. The sickness I have makes me really sad and anxious. Anxious is just a fancy word for the way you feel when your sisters pile all the pillows up on you and then sit on the top. It’s that can’t breathe feeling. I feel like that a lot. Even when I’m just standing in the kitchen. So I talk to myself, quietly in my head, and remind myself to take deep breaths, but sometimes I don’t hear what you’re saying to me because I’m trying so hard to remember how to breathe. I know you get frustrated that I’m not listening. But, baby, it’s not because I don’t care, it’s just that breathing is really important. All that thinking about breathing and trying not cry or yell makes me really tired. It makes me wish it was nap time ALL.DAY.LONG.
You know how when you’re sick you just want to lie on the couch under the snuggly blankets and watch Daniel Tiger all day? It’s the same kind of thing. And you know how you don’t want to play picnic or color pictures with your sisters but it’s not because you’re mad at your sisters, it’s just because you don’t feel good? Well, that’s the same too. I’m not mad at you, I just don’t feel good.
I didn’t want to tell you I was sick because I didn’t want you to be scared. I know it’s scary when grown ups aren’t well, even if you know they are going to get better. But I see now that not telling you is just making you a different kind of scared. I can tell that you’re scared that you’ve done something wrong, and I’m a little scared that you think I don’t love you anymore.
That’s not true, baby. I love you so, so much. I will always, always love you even if you color all over the walls and spill the whole dinner on the floor. There is NOTHING you can do that is so bad that it will make me stop loving you.
And there’s more good news: I might be a little sick right now, but I have a lot of good people who are helping me get better. Good doctors and good friends. When you’re sick, you need both. I have medicine (too bad it’s not the yummy purple kind) that is helping, and your daddy is helping, and you are helping too. When you come curl up in my lap and put your sweet little hands on my face – that helps a lot.
I’m already feeling a little better. Every day I get little bit less tired and sad and it feels like there are fewer pillows on my head. Really soon I’m going to be all well and then we’ll play hide and seek for HOURS. I’ll count first, and when I get to 20, I’ll even look for you.