dad-and-childLast week, we had the Attack of the Weird Enh Bug around my house. One kid went down, and I attributed it to her week at camp and general exhaustion. The low-grade fever, the whining, the waiting-for-puking: all of these were crosses I was shouldering with a patient smile.

And then…then, she didn’t puke. She seemed to get better. Then she got worse. And then I took her to the doctor. (We had a few other symptoms that were worrisome.)

In the meantime my two-year-old son was up most of a night screaming in pain. What pain? We couldn’t tell. I slept when I could on the floor by the couch where he fell asleep.

And then the last kid got sick. She’s who has drama to spare, and when she’s sick, it’s even worse.

I realized something after the third or fourth night with no real sleep pattern: I have made some small progress in the ten years that I’ve been a parent. 

Instead of waking up to the nighttime wailing with a word I can’t type here coming out of my mouth, I was slogging along and praying for the souls in Purgatory. “Someone oughta get some good out of this,” I thought with almost a smile.

Instead of wondering why I had to be the one to trudge around the darkened rooms while he slept, I found myself hoping he could get some good sleep before his big meeting or challenge at work.

Instead of sneaking away as soon as the kid would let me, I found myself rubbing his back, stroking her leg, or praying for her to have a restful bout of sleep for their own sake, not for mine.

And maybe the fact that I can even acknowledge that these hours of sick are somehow uniting me with Christ, growing my relationship with my Creator, making me a better person…maybe that’s the good that comes out of these moments of bad.

My kids have helped me grow closer to God in the last ten years more than any other thing, and when they’re sick, it’s even truer. God is there, beside me. Sometimes I feel it in the presence of His Mother, who I reach to almost reflexively. Sometimes I see it in the opportunity to finish that prayer I meant to pray all day and never did. Sometimes it strikes me later, when I see the blessings that were there all along, invisible at the time.

Even in the days after, when we’re sporting dark circles under our eyes, grouching and stomping, cleaning and vegging, I find God seems more present. If I’m paying attention, I even smile. Because there He is, carrying us. Every. Single. Time.

Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Check out all of her books at

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