Back in May, my son got pretty sick. He was fighting a fever that spiked up over 104 at one point, and while we were able to keep it under control with ibuprofen, the fever kept coming back. Any 104+ fever is scary no matter what, but with an 8-month-old, we were very concerned. After seeing his normal pediatrician and getting a powerful antibiotic shot (for an ear infection, among other things), the fever returned, and we took him to Children’s Hospital. After a long wait to be seen, he got some bloodwork done, and the doctors determined that he was severely dehydrated and would need to be admitted and put on an IV.
We spent hours in the intake room before being admitted and taken up to an actual room. In fact, it was around 4 AM before we went up to a room. Throughout those few days, when he was clearly legitimately sick, and we were dragging him around to doctor’s appointments and hospitals, getting thermometers poked in awkward and uncomfortable places, getting poked with needles and examined by lots of strangers, he was still trying hard to be happy. In between moments of pain or discomfort, he would sneak out a grin and a laugh, take in his environment with great curiosity, and flirt with the nurses.
I remember being amazed at that moment that he could show any positive emotions considering the circumstances. As I watched him, I thought about the fact that every single thing is new to him all the time. He’s never been sick like this before. He’s never been to a place like this. Every time someone poked him with a needle, there was a momentary look in his eyes that said, “I’ve been betrayed,” but then he was given support and comfort from the doctors, nurses, and his parents. Within a few seconds, every single time, he was over it and back in a positive state of mind.
My 8-month-old son reminded me that we always have an option to choose how we perceive and react to our circumstances. We can lean on those around us and find some joy in every moment, even in the face of adverse circumstances, or we can choose to feel sorry for ourselves and dwell on the negative.
As I’ve reflected on this over the past couple of months, I’ve identified some things I could learn from my son. I’m frequently trying to optimize everything and work toward a certain goal, which sometimes causes me to go on auto-pilot. It’s easy to get too zoomed in on the micro-level details and lose sight of the big picture. It can prevent me from noticing things around me and enjoying the moment. I’m going to take a page out of my son’s book and be intentional about stopping to smell the roses now and then.