Prelude to the Afternoon of Shovelling the Driveway

The last few days have not gone as planned. First Grey got the stomach bug, and lo. Sunday was not as expected. Then Monday I had procured tickets to The Secrets of Tomb 10A, and my husband and I were going to go check out the mummies ALL BY OURSELVES. It was going to be just like Vienna. And maybe we’d have a dilatory lunch or something. Bliss!

Then I was going to pick the kids up from Lawrence and drive past all my old haunts one last time. You can go back to visit, but you never again go back to belong. It was such an unexpected belonging — me and the creaky, broke, corrupt, lovely City of Lawrence. I would go a last time over the 130 year old iron bridge that will soon be demolished, that I could see from my window at work. I’d check out the latest foreclosure signs. I’d whisper goodbye and feel silly and maybe shed a few tears as I pulled away from Rubertina’s a last time.

All this was not to be. I spend the day as sick as I’ve been in Grey’s lifetime. I think the last time I was that sick was while I was pregnant with him. The time before was my freshman year of college. I rarely get very sick. But I was washed out. Sitting up was too much work. I napped from 10 am to 3 pm. My butt hurt from excessive sitting. Before about 8 pm, what I’d had to eat was 20 cheerios, 5 Ritz and some Jello. I skipped COFFEE people, that’s how serious it was.

On the plus side, I seem to have lost some weight! Not the best way to go about doing it, but don’t look a gift stomach bug in the mouth! (No really, to be avoided.)

Then, this morning, the boys’ first day at their new daycare, we go in to find Thane’s crib covered in vomit. Of course, based on his behavior today I’m not at all convinced he’s sick, piker. He’s certainly not anywhere as sick as *I* was, Mr. Incredibly Perky and Can I Come Up On the Couch For the 93rd Time Mom?

And so my last week of employment freedom races by in a blur of effluvia. And I haven’t even done the taxes yet. (Tomorrow! It must be tomorrow!)

I’d tell you more, but there’s about 3 inches of sticky white snow that should be shoveled while Thane sleeps, or this’ll get ugly.

Put today in the loss column

I try hard to focus on the positive, the joyful and the thoughtful. I attempt to shift my mental space from the whining (which is easy and natural) to the rejoicing. I have read that rehearsing a litany of wrongs makes you an angrier person, whereas choosing not to do so and not to practice your anger makes you actually happier. I believe this to be true. I suspect, since this is the venue where I do much of my intellectual and emotional processing, that this leads to a rather Polyanna-ish blog of my life. (Although it’s worth reminding you that Polyanna’s optimism worked!)

Anyway, that’s a long and meta intro to say that today? I’m not up to it. I can’t even tell you what exactly happened to make today one to be forgotten. It started ok — I got to sleep in until a near pre-kids hour due to an amazing and loving husband. But Thane is at such a stage. He’s not bad, not at all, but he’s demanding. I probably hauled him up onto the couch 45 times today. He wants things that are beyond his capabilities. He doesn’t really believe that I mean it when I say no. He hits his head on things apparently recreationally. And when thwarted, he throws a back-bending, writhing fit. He is, in short, 15 months old. (Aside: it’s AMAZING just how much progress he’s made verbally since the ear tube surgery. It’s VASTLY different. In the what, week? I swear his vocabulary has doubled. He OBVIOUSLY wasn’t hearing well before and now he’s parroting EVERYTHING. It’s pretty awesome.)

Grey? Well, he’s his own version of demanding. He bounces back between super-capable and frankly lazy and demanding. (AKA: four years old) He and I had a little friction this morning, which I suspect was at least equally due to me being cranky for no good reason. Then, aikido. Oh, he’s been doing so WELL. He knows the names of the techniques. His focus is amazing. He’s energetic. He listens and does well. But today we had an EPIC MELTDOWN.

I’ve always read that you should be very honest and true to your word with your children, and I have tried to be. (I think integrity is important, and I think it’s learned by example.) So if, for example, I promise him he can be excused if he has three bites, he gets excused when he has three bites — not four. I’m starting to wonder if this sets up an unrealistic expectation. Today, he wasn’t doing his rolls properly, and he’s getting far enough along that he needs to learn how to do them right, not his way. The person he was working on (lucky enough to get one on one time!) asked him to do it once more. He did it. Then the person said (apparently) “Again!”. And Grey stormed off the mat in high dudgeon and did not stop crying for about 15 minutes. It took me about 2 hours to get him calm enough to tell me what went on. And what a two hours. I had to carry him out of the dojo. He hit me. He’s getting strong and big — it hurts. I still don’t know what to do when your child hits you and you have to (for example) get out of the dojo and get home. You’d be amazed at how quickly your back-brain steps in when someone, even your own beloved child, hits you in the mouth. (For the record what I did do was pin his hands to get him in the car, not give him his DS, go straight home instead of to our usual post-aikido treat, and send him to his room for the next hour and a half or so.)

We all stumbled our way, grumpy, through the remainder of the evening. We put the boys to bed about an hour and half early, based on their completely exhausted behavior. And then, Grey started throwing up. He threw up while asleep. Now he throws up all the time, but this was something special. (I think the difference is that he usually throws up because of his gag reflex, so he has plenty of time and warning. This was not so tonight. I think this was actual nausea.)

So here I am, bedraggled and patience in rags. What should’ve been a joyful family Saturday was more of an ordeal. I don’t think I was my best self. Worse, I don’t think I discovered in any of this a lesson I could learn or trick I could apply instead next time — no silver lining or lemonade here.

Just the promise that tomorrow is another day.

I aspire to be the sort of mom who doesn’t talk about vomit

My sons are generally healthy, fit, bonny little boys. I’m very, very blessed by their general health and fitness. But Grey has …. a quirk. When he was about seven months old (wee little Grey!) he got a cold. And with the mucous, he started throwing up. I was concerned, but figured it would pass.

It didn’t.

For about 6 weeks, Grey threw up several times a day. The worst day he threw up nine times. We took him to his doctor. We took him to a gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital, who looked wistfully at him and commented on how healthy he was. The constant vomit never seemed to, you know, BOTHER him. We have reports that he smiled while throwing up. Because he was thriving despite it all, the doctors just sort of shrugged and said that anything further they did to figure it out had possible bad side effects, so it wasn’t worth doing. It was a grim period. You would not BELIEVE the laundry. Finally, we discovered that Prevacid stopped him from throwing up. He stayed on Prevacid until he was about 13 months old. The barfing did not resume the same way.

Grey threw up all over London!
Grey threw up all over London!

But… Grey has always thrown up at the drop of a hat. Potty training is an accomplishment. But I have my son VOMIT trained. He seems to have quite a bit of warning — usually — that he’s going to throw up and makes sure he has a bowl or a bag or a toilet or something. He actually does a great job of it.

But right now Grey is in the throes of an incredibly mucousy cold. And once he starts coughing, it seems to end up in vomit pretty often, and too quickly for him to take appropriate measures.

Yesterday coming home was AWFUL. He pitched a fit coming out of daycare (despite my best, best efforts to wheedle and amuse instead of order). It was a full-on tantrum of a type that’s become blessedly rare. Then he spit at me for two blocks (his aim has much improved — he hit me, which he wasn’t able to do previously). I informed him he would be going directly to his room when we got home. Then, as I was driving, he took off his shoe, threw it at me, and hit me in the head with it.

Images of Bush in Iraq flashed through my head. I pulled the car over and gave him about the third spanking of his life. I reserve corporal punishment for times he’s put his safety or the safety of others at risk. Throwing shoes at a driver counts for that. But when I say spanking, I do mean a few light swats on the butt, nothing more.

This did have the outcome of having him cry. And the crying led to coughing. Which lead to him throwing up all over the back seat of the car. Again.

I have had better commutes home.

The evening got a bit better with him. He did spend his timeout in his room and nicely apologized. He had some dinner. He went to bed.

This morning, he didn’t want to leave Spongebob and cried bitter tears. I got him into the car by reminding him just how unhappy the “sad” way had been yesterday.

We weren’t two blocks out of the house when he coughed and threw up AGAIN in the car. I turned around and drove back. My husband is home sick today. It seems unfair to put childcare duties on the sick, but welcome to 21st century parenting.

All this is to say: my car is at the detailers. It’s pricey, but there are some things you just have to ante up for. My husband is home sick with a sick kid. Thane is at daycare with an unexpected provider (Abuela has been in the Dominican Republic since August) and when I left he was pitching a fit.

I feel really, really tired but otherwise fine. There’s this sense of impending doom about that. There is no way I can be surrounded by this many sick, snotty people and not succumb. Even for a fantastic immune system (which I have) the onslaught is just too overwhelming. I can only pray that the boys are better by then.

Ah, parenting. Is it the glamour? The riches? The appreciation of our hard work? What keeps us coming back for more? Humanity is a wondrous thing, to choose to do this.

Which brings me to a thought I had last night. I was looking at the curly head of my baby boy, nursing in our remnant night nursing in the soft light from the hallway. And I realized WHY it is that parents hope their children also have children. Sure, there’s the vengeful belief that they should suffer as they have caused us to suffer. But mostly, we hope our children have children because there is no other way they will ever understand how much they are loved. It’s an impossible amount of love and invisible, I fear, to the recipient. Feeling that themselves, looking down at their own curly-haired snot-monsters, is the only way they’ll ever understand.