Last night, while sitting at the kitchen table, I looked around at my children eating noisily and my husband making trips back and forth to the fridge like a waiter. I have one of those moments where I think, I’m the mom here? Wow, seriously though, I’m their mom…I’m their person? It’s overwhelming to take a step back from the table and look in on what we are doing. Earlier in the day, I craved a moment alone after days of the stomach flu, and now I suddenly can’t get enough of their strange stories and adorable improper table mannerisms. I watch them like I am watching a movie and wish I could lock in this moment and tuck it away in my mind, to access these little faces staring at me and expecting much, whenever I wanted to view it.
I wish I stayed in that ‘moment of awe’ more often as I easily forget how quickly life can go or how blessed I really am. If someone could create a ‘moment of awe’ switch, that would be really helpful, especially three days into the family stomach flu bug….
Laundry piles are high and patience is at its thinnest. It takes two weeks longer for parents to get well because like a line of little ducks entering the water in spring, each child gets the flu; one after the other and never at the same time. When you think one has escaped the evil clutches of the virus, sure enough, three days later he loses his dinner in the middle of the night and he expects the same level of care that the other two kids received. He is expecting your “A” game of top care and love!
It would be fine if it was just the sick kids, but the non-sick kids are almost worse. I have everyone down for a nap and 20 minutes into my much desired sleep time, someone pokes my face and says,
“Mom, I can’t sleep….Maybe I am getting the sickness”.
I turn into the worst form of myself and say,
“You had better be really sick and throwing up if you are going to wake me up”.
Poor kid, he only wanted his mom to show concern and care and instead he got Cruella Deville and her selfish crazy ways. I say sorry and tuck him back in bed and instead of resting my head, I sit next to him. I remember that I am his mom, his person, and think that someday when I am older I will wish I had sat next to his bed versus sleeping.
For days, we lie around, task-less and unorganized. I feel sometimes like I’m waiting for the mom to come back from the store and do the laundry and tell everyone what they should do. But I’m the mom….
My daughter’s turn comes and she runs to the toilet; after, she comes into the living room mysteriously smiling…. “Are you ok?” I confusedly ask.
“Ya, Im just really proud of myself because I just threw up and I didn’t even cry. It makes me really proud!” She starts to tear up.
Oh wow. I praise her and let her know she can cry if she wants to and that I usually do when I am sick. I let her pick the movie for being so brave and ask her every half hour how she is feeling. She requests Sprite, since she is “Now sick like mom and needs it”.
After each movie, the kids look at me, wondering how much they can get away with. I lay there barely alive and say “no more Jake and the Never land Pirates”, as I stumble my way through Netflix to find the longest movie possible. Uhg. Thankfully, (and unfortunately), my sister is visiting us from college; she takes the un-sick kids out back to play. I juggle being sick in my room and then pretending to be fine when around the kids. They don’t care if I’m in bed, they still want lunch.
My sister comes down with the bug that night and has it worse than any of us. She has to drive back to college the next day. We offer her crackers, puke bags, prayers and even a diaper for the long trip, but she is anxious to get the heck out of the house of sickness. Sorry Hana….
The day after the virus seems to have calmed itself down, we are all moving slowly but have serious cabin fever as the walls remind us of what we just endured. Not only that, but the kids wake up at their normal 7 am and wonder what we are going to do fun for the day! Eric and I decide that it would be fun to go for a drive (?). We are thinking that it is Saturday and that is usually our ‘family explore days’ so we decide to head up to check out a creek that has trees and hiking. Of course I throw in my fly fishing gear, while dreaming about a moment on an undiscovered stretch of water.
I take off my glasses in the car because I am sure they are making me dizzy, but my eyes are so unused to the light of day, I put them back on. I turn into the worst back seat driver known to man…Cut me a break, I haven’t moved this fast since last Thursday!
It’s pathetic though, I say things like “Did you not even see that car?” or “If I were you I would slow down because I can see that the people in front of them are putting on their breaks!” and “This lane is ending, you should probably get over”. I know how crazy I sound and I’m very fortunate to have a forgiving husband who understands how irrational I can get, and still puts up with me.
We make it about a half hour and my daughter yells that she is starting to “feel really gross”. We end up at Red Robin and decide that this is probably the extent to our day of adventure. Don’t get me started on the adventure of eating out with kids though. I can’t even imagine what the waitresses and bussers were talking about behind our backs. My daughter is pale and lying on the booth seat and my two year old son chucks his shoe into the isle while pointing at one set of neighbors’ fries. My almost 5 yr. old son says way too loud, “Mom, my tummy likes to eat and I don’t think I’m going to puke!” The guests sitting next to us try to not make eye contact, afraid probably of catching what the whole restaurant now knows we have been battling. After the spilled drinks, paper airplanes and to-go boxes filled with half of the food we ordered, we realize we now have to drive all the way home.
One of the Red Robin Balloons gets loose in the parking lot and floats away. All three kids start to yell and scream, pointing at the balloon bouncing tauntingly up in the sky. We start to drive and I put on the song “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen to distract them and I also find myself clever as it fits the situation of letting the balloon go, but no one else thinks this is funny.
“This is so boring. I don’t want to go home!!!” My non-sick kid says.
My husband, fed up with my back seat driving and our kid’s whiny voice tones, turns down a mysterious dirt road. I start to worry that I have pushed him too far this time. We meander down into a big pit of piles of dirt and sand, with no signs reading “private property”. What is he thinking? He pulls up next to a giant pile of sand and semi-slams on the breaks. I’m annoying and start to question out loud if the sand is treated, has glass in it, or if we might be shot at by the property owners. The kids scurry to unbuckle and excitedly dash up the mountain of sand.
Like a hero, Dad finds dump trucks and dozer toys in the car and plops our two year old in the sand. He grins and makes truck sounds immediately.
The sun is starting to set and it casts our shadows dark onto the pile of red sand. The older kids run up the sand and slide down in their school jeans. I “let it go” and just let them have fun.
I stand next to my husband, sort of trying to apologize by just being silent for once…..
A white bug lands on my shoulder and I wonder what sort of bug hatch is taking place on that beautiful stream we could have visited today. I begin to plan for tomorrow fishing by myself, but then I am caught off guard, again, by all of my little rascals standing next to each other, with the sun elongating their silhouettes and making them look like giants, or adults. As good as the river sounds, I decide I’ll have time for it later….I need to be their person until they are all feeling well.
I think, this, right here, is possibly the grandest adventure I will ever take.
And there you have it, unexplainable patience and endurance comes from unexplainable moments of realizing that this is their childhood and we are their moms. What an overwhelming idea to be in charge of a person’s childhood!
When I realize I’m the mom, I also remember that God put me in charge, so he must give me the tools to handle these stressful insane times! I pray a lot. Being the mom is awkward and messy like all of life, but we get through it!
What an honor to be on this adventure, with these four people in my boat, going through the worst of it and sometimes noticing the best of it!
“How you live your days, is how you live your life”. ~Annie Dillard