We’ve been sick a lot.
We’ve been sick so much that I’m even tired of writing about it. Ear infection, flu, fever, blah, blah, blah. We’ve caught every cold, and virus except for one. We have not gotten the stomach bug. All our friends and family have gotten the stomach bug, and we’ve stood like sentinels in their wake. Sentinels with runny noses on their second round of antibiotics.
Then, after a long day of playing with friends and eating cheese, Mary Virginia threw up.
It was right before bedtime, so Tom and I did what all parents do. We gave her a bath, changed the sheets, changed her pajamas, assumed it was a fluke, put her to bed and high-fived to celebrate our cool heads and quick action in the face of disaster. Then she threw up again and again and we then we did it over and over until we ran out of sheets and pajamas.
Once she finally settled down, Tom poured a glass a beer and kicked up his feet and started reading Game of Thrones. I straight up to him and threw my hands in the air, “Um, what are you doing? Because it looks like you’re relaxing and YOU BETTER NOT BE RELAXING!”
He was confused; he still thought it was a fluke.
Meanwhile, my stomach was churning with anxiety because watching your child get sick is like looking down the barrel of a gun. If one child is sick then the other will get sick and then I will get sick and Daddy won’t get sick because daddies never get sick. I was anxious because stomach bugs are contagious and we were already out of clean sheets.
Maybe I should say my stomach was churning and I hoped it was anxiety. Because I knew there was a good chance it might be something else.
Before we went to sleep, I warned Tom that there was a chance I might throw up on him in the middle of the night, and he rolled over and went to sleep as if it hadn’t already happened before.
It didn’t happen again, but the next morning we still had a very sick little girl. She was sad and uncomfortable and wanted me to hold her, but me holding her set off a horrible chain of events. She is sad and sick -> she wants me to hold her -> I hold her -> she wants to nurse her -> I nurse her -> she throws up -> she is sad and sick -> she wants me to hold her -> see where this is going?
It was impossible for me to hold her, so Tom took her outside and rocked her under our oak tree. They looked idyllic, a Norman Rockwell scene of a father and his sleeping daughter, reading Game of Thrones.
Meanwhile, I was inside with David. My stomach still felt unsettled and I was exhausted. I sat down on the couch, which, to David, is the equivalent of hanging a flashing neon sign over my head. We have bins and buckets full of trucks and cars and trains, but WAIT A MINUTE IS THAT MOMMY ON THE COUCH!? GUESS I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO GO REMIND HER SHE LIVES WITH A TWO-YEAR OLD!
David wanted to sit ON TOP of me, and instead of quietly reading books like a self-respecting Norman Rockwell toddler, he flopped around and elbowed me in the gut.
If you’ve ever tried to cuddle with, hold, snuggle, lay in bed with, or even just stand in the same room as a toddler, you know that they have no body control and even less body awareness. Their brains are not at all connected to their limbs, and they swing their heads around like wrecking balls. If you don’t believe me, mention this to a group of moms and I promise you at least one of them will tell you that they were sitting on the couch having “quiet time” with their toddler and the kid give them a black eye or a bloody nose.
I tried to get him to cuddle without kicking me in the jaw, but eventually I gave up and told him to get down. He did, and when he did he took my pillow because he wanted to build a pillow tower to jump on.
Picture this in your mind: I felt terrible. I was exhausted and uncomfortable, and had a headache from all that toddler cuddling, and David walks over, puts his hand on my face, and pulls the pillow out from under my head.
“David,” I said. “When you get older I’m going to tell you this story and you’re going to feel terrible.”
“Um, Mommy,” he responds. He turns from his pillow tower to face me and holds his index finger up to make sure I don’t miss his instruction. “Will you move from the couch? I think you better move because I will build my tower on the couch and I will crash it and I will hurt you.”
I suppose I should be thankful I got a warning.
I suppose I should also get off the couch.