We all got back from our amazing whirlwind of a vacation, one week ago. Last Sunday, at 1130am, we pulled into the garage after Jase drove twenty+ hours straight through (minus time spent at dinner with Jase’s dad in Vegas). Needless to say, we all came inside and crashed. Until today, I haven’t ventured out with the kids since we decided to all take turns getting the flu for the last seven days.

Malakai got sick first. Initiating the family sickness by vomiting between our van and the gas pump at some gas station in Richfield, Utah at 3am. We drove away, impressed at the way the macaroni held it’s form and before anyone could write down our license plate number. We thought it was food poisoning from eating bad food at some bad casino in some bad city. A place Zoe mistakenly (although aptly) named “Lost” Vegas. However, after I got the fever, body aches, sinus and cough issues a few days later and then Cali got it after that and then Zoe… well, then we realized it was the flu. We all have lingering coughs and are still a little weak but the hard part is definitely over.

I’m very grateful that each of us (Jase must have been immune to what we were serving) got sick on different days. I never would have even thought to wish or pray for this but none of our fevers, chills or severe body aches overlapped onto anyone else’s days. Kai was sick for a couple of days, I was next, then Cali and then Zoe. I knew I was on the verge of shutting down and needing a nap on Wednesday afternoon and, thankfully, Jase was able to leave work early (and take off on Thursday) and take care of the kids (and me!) so I could allow my body to shut down, get sick and heal faster than if I tried to trudge through motherhood and sickness on my own. This past week was hard and frustrating, however, I’ve never felt more loved and appreciated as a mom than I did these last seven days.

That’s why I’m writing this.

It’s hard to be a mom. Children don’t really grasp showing gratitude and they’re great at wanting bigger and better things. They don’t understand that this job is looked down on by so many people and that moms lose so much of what they feel their identity is in quitting the jobs they got salaries and benefits (and respect!) with and trading that for harder work with no pay. The dishes never stay clean, the dirty laundry is never gone for more than a day and those dang toilets always get that nasty orange ring RIGHT after you feel you were just on your hands and knees (contorting your body in ways you never thought possible and trying to keep hair out of your face while keeping chemical-covered hands away from everything). On top of the housework, taking chef courses would be extremely beneficial as would taking any and every class/course available that would help aid in creativity with games, crafts, errands and tantrums with three cranky children that don’t think you have one intelligent piece of advice to give. This is a thankless and disparaging job. Or… that’s how it feels sometimes.

I was needed this week. I was reminded that this precious job I have been entrusted with is worth more than money could ever pay and is more valuable than all the accolades the world has to offer. This week, the flu caused my nine year old son to forget that he has a computer and cool transformers and lego sets and caused him to ask me (more than once!) to just sit near him or to lay by his side until he fell asleep. After Malakai got better, the flu caused me to rest and allow Jase to take care of me in ways that he’s been aching to help. Then two year old Cali got sick and was forced to be a *still* toddler and reach out for, and snuggle and relax with her mommy. Finally, Zoe got sick and the little girl that I need to remember to let be a fragile six year old instead of trying to toughen up, became fragile and weak and I relished that.

For the last seven days, meals were frequently eaten on a sheet on the living room floor and movies were a constant must. Malakai and Zoe were beyond ecstatic once they realized they each got their OWN bottles of gatorade AND their own popsicles! And the hugs, kisses and cuddles were passed around hundreds of times.

I felt loved this week. I felt appreciated. I felt taken care of and genuinely respected. I know the kids and Jase did too. Being in such a vulnerable state left all of us feeling so much more in love and grateful for what we have and what we’ve been blessed with. Each other.