Be Grateful For Small Mercies

By Alison March 10, 2008 22 Comments 3 Min Read


At this stage we don’t think it is meningitis. At least not yet.

You shudder. It is cold in the hospital. Your little boy is curled up on the bed blotchy and exhausted from vomiting and a temperature so high you could scramble an egg on his tummy. It is a virus they say. That catch all phrase for we have no idea what is wrong but we think he will survive it without our intervention. You can take him home but come straight back if he deteriorates please.

So you wrap him up in a blanket and tuck him into bed, then spend the next seven days watching a violent magenta rash explode over different areas of his body limb by limb. Though it is a truly awful thing to say and perhaps one of those things Mothers are not allowed to feel,  you quite like it when he is sick. It seems to call upon your deepest instincts to make his world alright. It reduces the universe to your living room, just you and him and lots of restorative chocolate buttons. But his ordeal isn’t over. There are two hours of an occupational therapists observations to endure yet and a blood test at the Coeliac Clinic before the week is out. Your heart aches for him. For his determination when asked to demonstrate his his fine motor skills and the shock on his face when a women in oh so much fake tan jabs a needle into the crook of his arm and sprays his precious blood across the room.

I’m sorry baby, you say. I’m so so sorry. And hope with all your heart that he forgives you. Though you who are obliged to teach him how, struggle to forgive yourself. One day he says "Me and Daddy took flowers to the lady in the red car" and your tummy sinks. You know who the lady in the red car is. That when he took your son to buy flowers for you on Mothers Day, Daddy also bought her some and in an effort to win her back, pulled out his trump card, a little boy so gorgeous he could melt the hardest, snarliest of hearts.

You can’t forgive him that. No-one would expect you to. Though had he asked if he could take Finn to meet her, perhaps now you might have said yes. You’ve seen the hurt on his face and the stupid, relentlessly forgiving part of who you used to be, still wants to make his world alright. To win her back for him. Her with the nasty green eyeshadow. You worry about yourself.

And so the week ticks by. A melody of  anger and frustration. You make yourself beautiful. Night after night you apply rose scented cream to your face and rub chamomile balm into the cracked soles of your feet. And for what? For yourself? For the man you will sit next to at the weekend? Another shooting star landing in your lap…

You buy cerise underwear sprayed with frilly lime green lace. Parade around your bedroom in it and feel lovely for a while. You eat sushi till it comes out of your ears and stare at the bruises on your legs. You are always bruised. Your legs speckled like corn beef. You drink tea with this new man and hope that he is what he says he is. Because for sure as hell, you aren’t.

The souls of your feet are cracked.


  1. gena says:

    Oh Alison! I am so sorry you are having such a bad time,I do hope Finley is better soon,and I hope your spirits are raised soon,you sound so sad lately.xx

  2. Mimi xxx says:

    Oh Alison, how horrible for you and for Finn, and how amazing that even at such a time you can write so beautifully and eloquently. The souls of your feet may be cracked, but I think we are all queued up to rub them better for you and to do anything we can, even if that is just be here.

  3. Melanie says:

    I hope everything turns out fine for you, take care Alison.

  4. Your writing is achingly beautiful. Why oh why isn’t someone (besides fellow bloggers) noticing this?!
    Hope that your darling Finn is doing better. Thankfully, mercifully, children are resilient.

  5. Julie says:

    Who cares about the guy stuff! HOW is Finn?

  6. Lesley says:

    Oh Alsion, how horrible for you. All I can offer is a virtual hug and the hope that tomorrow is better. ((((Alison)))))

  7. Gayla says:

    I am thinking of you, dear one. I hope Finn is doing okay. Seasons. It’s time for a new one, I think. Love you.

  8. There are few things, anything?, worse than seeing your child suffer and being helpless to improve matters. Thoughts for Finn to be back to his spunky self and for things to improve all around.

  9. Lisa (the book-sniffing librarian) says:

    …yikes, that sounded terrible, y’know the illness issue (i.e, that kids are always ill!) really puts me off having another child. I admire your strength in these circumstances, even though us mums have no choice! I just panic and go to pieces!
    Really hope Finn is on the mend, thought there was something up, isn’t that wierd.
    I use your matra “this too will pass” more times than I care to mention, it really does help. Here’s hoping lovely things come your way x

  10. Sasha says:

    Yes, I thought something must be up, besides no broadband…. goodness me, I take it serious stuff like meningitis HAS been ruled out then? I hope to heavens he is better very soon.
    And yes, I also know what it is for your heart to feel a little leap at the thought of a ‘sick day’ off school, full of blankies and Doris Day films and home made cake, and a legitimate excuse for NO HOUSEWORK! – and to be ashamed of such pleasures at the expense of your baby’s health! But real illness is a whole other ball game, and we take no pleasure in that. We need a good old fashioned proper winter to kill some of these germs!!
    Fear not Alison, your soul is as beautiful and well formed as it ever was – no person can ever break that. Hugs to you and Fin xx

  11. clarice says:

    Dear Alison, I know the fear one feels with their baby in the hospital. The unknown, the watching your child suffer. I am so sorry. Clarice

  12. leigh ann says:

    Oh, so horrible for you and little Fin. Praying for you.

  13. debbie says:

    It may not be allowed, but I secretly loved my children more when they were ill too. For one thing, they sleep a lot and are so darn cuddly! Hope Finn and the cracks in your soul heal soon. XO

  14. Daisy Chains says:

    I hope you and Finley are ok. Our babies are made to become independant at such an early age now. Childhood is such a brief period of time and yet there is more pressure on children to be responsible and independant and on mums to encourage this in order for them to have their lives or careers. It’s as though society deems you inadequate if you are just happy to be a mum alone. I can see why there seems to be this sudden fashion for all things retro, maybe there is a quiet rebellion happening amongst women!!

  15. Kali says:

    My dear girl ~ as a mother my heart aches for you.
    One night, this weekend just gone, I received a phone call that made my heart lurch and my world come to a screeching holt.
    My beautiful boy (15 year old), was in trouble and was taken to hospital.
    I won’t go into details here, but thankfully, things turned out for the best and he returned safely back home to me.
    As Mothers we are eternally sorry to our beloved child/ren.
    Love to you dear Ali, and understanding.
    xo Kali

  16. Amy says:

    oh poor little wee thing! Hope he’s on the mend *hugs*

  17. jademichele says:

    hope&prayers for you and Finn.
    souls do crack,maybe they even break;
    still,somehow they also heal-it’s the waiting that is so hard

  18. Anna Marie says:

    I hope that Finley is feeling better, and that you are recovering from what must be an anxiety-provoking time. I also wouldn’t worry about the ex, nor about this new fellow too much right now. We women are conditioned to be caregivers, and whilst that is appropriate for our children, the adult men can take good care of themselves.
    My thoughts are with you,
    Anna Marie
    PS: You are very gifted

  19. Paula says:

    My prayers with you also.
    I’ve only just found your blog and I am loving it, I’m coming back tomorrow.
    I’m way down down under so it’s bedtime for me.

  20. I hope you feel better now, you and your lovely boy.

  21. Jacquie Kernick says:

    I do pray that Finley is improving daily…it is a most exhausting and fretful experience to see a child of yours, of any age but particularly as young as Finley, so very poorly. Take heart, Alison…I’ve only been reading on your blog and using the forums for a very short time and you are endeared to my heart already.
    You share your brokenness and your heartache so openly and with such tender, hurting words….I wish you peace of spirit, mind and soul, Alison. May you soon find your place of mending and healing…and Finley too. Blessings. xxoo

  22. Melissa says:

    Just thinking about you and Finn. I hope everything gets better. Hugs.

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