Going undercover

There is something immensely comforting about sitting and reading a book with a quilt over your knees.

I was reminded of that yesterday, while the boys napped.  It’s been a tough two days; Lukey got a terrible cold, which then turned into an ear infection, which subsequently turned him into a very cranky little fellow.   It was a relief when the boys went down for a siesta.  Though I had (and still have) piles of grading to do, I gave myself a little break, brewed some tea, and sat down on the couch with At Home in Mitford, which I recently borrowed from my mother.  (Having read all the Fairacre books, I need something else to fill the “charming, non-angsty tales of a small village” space in my reading life.  I usually have a few books going at once — and I always need to have something cozy to read before bed.  It’s the literary equivalent of chamomile tea.)

And as I read, I spread a small quilt over my lap.  Right away, the afternoon got a whole lot better. I felt like a little squirrel in a nest.  That blanket made the act of reading feel a bit more lasting; with a cover over me, I was not likely to jump up in ten minutes’ time and go check email or throw in a load of laundry. And it reminded me of times when I have been sick, and would lie on the sofa without having to do anything more taxing than turn a page or lift a remote.  Those days are few and far between now; like most moms, I ignore symptoms of illness in myself because of some stubborn, false sense that the wheels of family life will stop grinding if I’m not actively running the show.  This means that I tend to the sick far more than I let others tend to me.  I’m almost incapable of reclining on the sofa and letting my husband take over child or house duties — and this, in fact, is why I adored being in the hospital when my kids were born. ( Four days of other people cooking, cleaning, and bringing me meals, with absolutely no feeling that I should be up doing it myself?  It was like Club Med.)

But I was reminded yesterday that it’s okay to treat myself like a little invalid, even when I’m well.  It’s extraordinarily refreshing to snuggle under a blanket for a short time, to savor  the silence and rest and immobility that are the good parts of being sick.   We all need that, every once in a while — time under the quilt, with no guilt.

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