• Shelby Hughes

When The Germs Go Away

I sit almond butter and jelly sandwiches on the table for lunchtime. That’s our new normal ever since we discovered our youngest has a peanut allergy.


“Mommy. Mommy. Moooommmmmyyyy,” my three-year-old whines, because that’s her favorite pastime these days.


“Yes, sweetie?”


“Can I lead prayer,” she says loudly, eyes glued to her big sister because everything is grounds for competition between those two.


“Sure.” The older two bow their heads while the baby picks up her spoon and begins eating.


My mind tends to trail off during mealtimes. The kids are all sitting in one place and occupied by eating. It’s one of the few times I have a moment to think straight after CONSTANT beckoning for my attention.


I do, however, try to stay present during their quick meal prayers. Why? Because that’s when I have the opportunity to hear what’s on their heart, and in doing so, I remember that though they are young, they too battle fear and other emotions. I am then able to pray for them.

I pay attention to the baby while listening to my 3-year-old’s prayer.


“Jesus, thank you for when the germs go away, and I hope you have a good meal. Amen.”

I walk into the kitchen and cry. I simultaneously tear up and smile over her prayer, because it is filled with gratitude and faith and a dose of humor. Yes, it’s childlike faith, but it’s also bold faith, and it’s exactly what I need right now.





My middle child is not asking for the germs from this virus to go away. She’s not asking. It’s like she knows something I don’t even know yet. It’s like she’s more in tune with God than me, like they are on such close terms that she feels comfortable adding some humor to the mix, throwing her head back and laughing at herself when the prayer is finished, but then switches to a matter-of-fact tone and tells her sister that Jesus eats meals too, right? Middle girl has her rhetorical questions down pat. Ha.


My oldest answers her and they banter on while I clean the counters and pour milk into cups.

I carry the milk over to them, and my oldest brings me back to reality again.


“Mommy. I hope I will see all my friends and that they’ll be okay once this virus is over.”


I reassure her while reassuring myself.


“They’ll be okay, Emily. They have Mommy’s and Daddy’s, and Mommy’s and Daddy’s keep us safe, right Emily?” Ava reassures her sister better than I can and Emily smiles wide, runs to the other side of the table, and gives her sister a hug.


Those moments are few and far between, so I soak it in, pretending not to notice that someone is out of their seat during mealtime. Within a few minutes, they’ll return to butting heads. I’ll hang on to this moment to get me through the crying and whining and sibling rivalry, which seems intensified ever since we were told to social distance.


Our kids feel the weight of social distancing too.


I’d like to think it’s not impacting them as much, but they understand we cannot go to church. They understand we cannot go see grandparents. They understand we cannot go to school (our weekly homeschool co-op.) They understand, and it's not easy for them despite my best effort to maintain normalcy and keep the subject of this virus to a minimum.


And since it’s not easy for any of us, I will pray, and I’ll pray in 3-year-old terms, because that kind of faith can move mountains.


“Jesus, thank you for when the fears go away, and I hope you have a good meal. Amen.”

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2017 Shelby L Hughes | Greensburg, PA | shelbyhugheswriter@gmail.com