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Life is uncomfortable. This, of course, is not necessarily a ground-breaking thought, but it occurred to me, as you can imagine, while I lay awake at 3 a.m. covered in my daughter’s puke. There is nothing comfortable about this scenario: not the time of night; not the awkward position we kept, scrunched together on the couch; and definitely not the screeching sound of puppets’ voices whining through our television as we sat through another viewing of “Elmo in Grouchland,” the only thing that seemed to distract her from the fever.

What made this idea so thought-provoking – even in the wee hours of the morning – was what had preceded it just a few seconds before my poor girl’s latest eruption: how unfortunate it is that it takes something as rotten as the flu to finally get to experience something I’ve been missing.

On one hand my baby is sick, and speaking from recent experience babies are no good at being sick, which means it ends up everywhere. And there’s nothing comfortable – or even polite – about that statement. But on the other hand, there’s the calm that the flu brings. Those moments when things are finally still, and it seems everything else has stopped, and the only thing I need to do is hold and comfort her.

It wasn’t until after I had cleaned the mess and got “Elmo” rolling again that I realized how special this moment really was. Even though my daughter didn’t feel well and my own back ached, she was sitting still long enough for me to hold her in my arms, something that hadn’t happened since she learned to walk.

Which made me realize that in the middle of all the unquiet and distress that comes with caring for a sick child, I almost missed this. And it got me to thinking about how many other moments just like this I probably do miss quite frequently.

Opposing forces are at work every day and in every situation. But fortunately we are the ones who choose which ones to focus on, which ones to allow into our lives. Like the amazingly comforting hug from a friend that would otherwise feel so nice if it weren’t for the fact that your heart is shattered to bits. Or the fact that our dream of being self-employed small business owners has finally come true, only to have happened smack-dab in the middle of the worst string of recessions since The Great Depression. Regardless of the situation we find ourselves in, each scenario has two sides. The only thing we are tasked to do is pick one and live it.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the discomfort that we miss out on the good stuff. But if we look hard enough, it’s there. If we keep waiting for life to be perfect, we won’t realize perfection is already there, it just might be hidden.

As hard as it is to focus on the good while sitting in puke-soaked pajamas at 3 a.m., there’s at least one really good reason to try, and she’s lying right there waiting for my decision.

And on the nights that I’m too tired to make it on my own, Elmo mercifully makes house calls.

This column was originally published in the November 23, 2011 edition of the St. Maries Gazette Record.

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