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Moms instinctively know how to help their children. It has been said that no thermometer is as accurate as a mother’s hand. There is a lot of truth to that saying.

No Rest for the Weary


Moms instinctively know how to help their children. It has been said that no thermometer is as accurate as a mother’s hand. There is a lot of truth to that saying. 

When you’re growing up, you can always count on your Mom to help you feel better when you’re sick.

Moms instinctively know how to help their children. It has been said that no thermometer is as accurate as a mother’s hand.

There is a lot of truth to that saying.

Moms seem to be able to “feel” how well or how sick their children are in a way that surpasses the limits of mere medical instrumentation.

When I was sick as a little boy, my mom used to buy me throat lozenges, make soup for me, comfort me, and reassure me that I’d be out playing with the other boys very soon. If I had a fever, she would bring me cool washcloths to put on my forehead to bring down my temperature.

If I didn’t feel like reading, she’d let me lie on the couch in front of the television, where I could enjoy the best game shows that the 1970’s culture could muster: The Price is Right, The Joker’s Wild, and Tic Tac Dough. With my mom in charge of my recovery process, I knew I would get better. Though I may have been ill, this level of attention made me feel like a king.

In fact, when you’re little, there’s probably no time in your life that you feel more protected and more pampered than when you’re sick.

Sickness is a little different when you’re 40. First of all, my mom is at work. And that’s not good, because like my wife always says: “It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you are 4 or 40, you still want your mom when you’re sick.”

I’d like to call my mom and let her know when I am sick, but since she’s helping thousands of Catholic parents educate their children, I’d probably feel guilty asking her to drive over to my house with some Sucrets. (On the other hand, if I really got something serious, she’s on my speed dial.)

When you’re a parent of nine children, getting sick is a luxury you can’t afford. This became apparent to me recently when I succumbed to the ravages of winter.

What you’d like to do when you’re “under the weather” is to lie in bed, have someone bring you lots of fluids, fluff your pillows, and generally maintain a quiet atmosphere, conducive to getting healthy. Reality doesn’t work out quite that well.

Children like to “check on” sick parents—usually when they have finally been able to fall asleep.


Child: “Daddy… Daddy… Daddy?”

Father: “Yes, sweetie. Are you OK?”

Child: “I’m fine. Mommy wants to know if you are asleep yet.”

Daddy: “Tell Mommy I’m fine. I’ll feel better soon, and then we’ll play with your Pet Shop Toys.”

Child: “OK, Daddy. Have a good sleep.”

Rinse and repeat in one hour.

Children do seem to want to do their homeschooling near their sick parent.

When I was lying in bed, my seven-year-old daughter, Dominica, and my nine-year-old daughter, Philomena came in with their violins and violin stand and proceeded to practice the new classical pieces they are learning.

It was truly a virtuoso performance, but violin and nausea don’t mix.

Also, when children have disagreements that need officiating, and they need the wise advice of a parent, they are faced with a question: “Should I ask the healthy parent or the sick parent?”

In this case, the sick parent is suddenly viewed by the children as King Solomon.

Only the sick parent who is lying in bed seems capable of answering disputes of titanic importance that have a clear immediacy, such as: “Which of us did Daddy buy the magenta crayon for?”

When you’re eight years old, you don’t go back to school until you feel better.

When you’re forty, when you decide to get up and go back to work, it’s not necessarily because you’re feeling better—it’s because you’ve reached the stage in which you realize that you’re not going to get any better by lying in bed.

There are few things in life that make you feel more special than a little three-year-old coming into your room with a concerned, slightly-sad look on her face, asking you if you feel better, and wanting you to play—even when you’d rather be sleeping your way to recovery.

But this recent bout with illness has got me thinking that perhaps Lisa and I should incorporate a nursing class to the home schooling regimen.

Maybe as Seton considers adding new courses, parents can suggest that they add the class.

Maybe it can be written by moms to show the rest of the non-Mom home-schooling world how to take care of people.

There is another lesson I’ve learned.

When you are sick as a father, it is much better to be sick yourself than to see one of your children sick. As a father, seeing a child suffer with illness has never been easy for me. I doubt it’s ever easy for most fathers.

I’m sure many of us fathers, upon seeing our sick children, have prayed that we could suffer in their place. I think that this is just a prayer of instinctive fatherhood.

And as winter finally ends and spring and summer take their rightful place, let’s pray that new seasons of health are on the way.

One thing I have decided with all this—the next time I’m sick, I’m calling my mom.

About John Clark

John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
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