This post is full of vomit, and I don’t mean word-vomit. Vomit and love. Consider yourselves warned.
By Tuesday of this week I was ready to be done. ThriverBabe had kept us up for a good chunk of the night, restlessly tossing and turning and sitting up and crying for no reason we could discern. I got us both ready for the day, dropped him off at daycare, and went to teach my classes. By the time I finished teaching, pumping, picking my son up from daycare, and driving home, I was personally past the point of running on empty. There weren’t even any fumes left in my tank. Here’s the text message I sent to my husband:
My sweet husband came through for us as promised, but he even went above and beyond. He staggered through the door an hour later, laden with heavy bags of cat food and our Chipotle supper. But hooked over one finger was another white bag with a familiar black and white checkerboard logo…
“Is that—?” I started.
“See’s,” he said, handing me the bag.
Inside was a pound of assorted dark chocolates, a box of chocolate molasses chips, and a box of dark chocolate raspberry chips.
And in that moment, I swear my face turned into the heart-eyes emoji.
He offered me a bashful smile. “It seemed like we might need it this week.”
I laughed, swallowing a lump in my throat and blinking back the sting of tears.
And oh man, have we ever needed those chocolates this week.
I think I’ve gotten a grand total of about eight hours of sleep over the course of the last three days. I’ve washed vomit out of my hair and the bedspread, and diarrhea out of crib sheets. (Side note: I’ve caught spit-up in my hands countless times over the last ten months and assumed I was #mommingit pretty well, but LET ME TELL YOU, vomit is a very different beast.) I’ve rocked and cuddled a restless, moaning, feverish baby for hours, and I’ve sung to him until my voice was hoarse.
“You’re a really good mom,” ThriverDad whispered to me the other night over the head of our sleeping son. I didn’t feel like a particularly good mom this week. I felt like this week fought me and conquered me. Is there a skillful, joyful way to respond to projectile vomit? If there is, I don’t yet know it. My son vomited all over me, the bedspread, and himself, and I just sat there for a moment, stunned. My son blinked at me, wide-eyed—and vomited again.
I’d sent that text to my husband at the beginning of the week as a cry for help. I phrased it the way I did in part to inject a little levity into the request, but also in recognition of the fact that I was asking my husband—my equally exhausted husband—to do something that I could not. It took some true heroics for him to go and do what needed to be done. On the other hand, I suppose I’ve done some things this week that my husband could not. He’s pretty squeamish around vomit and other bodily fluids, and his depression makes him need more sleep than I usually need, so more often than not, it’s been me up with the baby, rocking and shushing and praying for a break.
There’s something C.S. Lewis says about courage in Mere Christianity in his chapter about the cardinal virtues that I’ve been thinking of this week:
If parenthood isn’t a lesson in the kind of courage that keeps going despite pain and difficulty, I don’t know what is. (Chronic illness, too!) I’m hopeful that while we can say of weeks like this that “this too shall pass,” weeks like this are also helping form our will and character.
“I’m glad we get to take care of each other,” I said to my husband later this week, thinking of how much easier it is to do a hard thing for someone else’s sake and not just your own. How my anxious and tired husband would probably rarely offer to go pick up cat food and dinner on his own, but because I asked, he did it joyfully, heroically, and made a special stop for chocolates, too. His love for us strengthened his will and brought joy to a task he would normally consider a drudgery. I thought about how it’s so much easier to be a good wife and a good mom, to do all kinds of unglamorous and exhausting and necessary things out of love instead of obligation. I’m glad we get chances to be a little heroic toward each other amidst the drudgery of daily living.
I won’t go so far as to say that I’m grateful for this week’s challenges, but I will say that I love my son enough to clean up his vomit every day for the rest of my life if I have to. I love my husband enough that I find myself joyfully helping him by doing the things he finds difficult, like filing taxes or emptying the litterbox.
I’m grateful that love makes us brave.
And I’m really grateful for chocolate.
Wishing you all a restful and vomit-free weekend,
You might also like:
- Holding Fast: Fairy Tales and Wrestling My Baby to Sleep
- Why I Clean My House During Lent
- Life with Limits: Spoon Theory and Family Life