Yesterday was a PD day for Leila, so she spent the day with her after-school friends at daycare. At 3:30, I got a call I was expecting. She had been complaining of a headache, a belly ache and had been really, really pale on Sunday afternoon.
Leila has a headache and is curled up in the corner on the mats with her blankie. Can we give her some Tylenol?
I’m on my way, I promised into the phone, and in the way that it always happened, absolutely everything else in my life faded from view as I drove to daycare to pick up my sick baby.
I kept her home today, despite meetings I had to cancel and despite her protestations that she was feeling better. Around 11, she threw up in the car (why does it always happen in the car?) and on herself.
I cleaned her up as best I could, took her home, wiped her face, changed her clothes and tucked her into bed. She slept for two hours, and is now watching Barney on the couch. There’s laundry chogging through the machines and a lot of vomit mashed into the carpet behind the driver’s seat in my car.
One thing about parenthood that people without children don’t understand is Survival Mode. You know all those people who say they throw up when they see vomit? Or poop? Or need “X” hours of sleep OR ELSE? It’s just not that way.
I’m not saying I’ve never gagged into my kids vomit pile or diaper that I was cleaning. I’m not saying I’ve never cried from being so tired and overwhelmed because they were sick and I was exhausted and they needed to cling their germy-vomit smelling selves all over me and I hadn’t washed myself in two days. I’m not saying it’s not hard, but I am saying that when it’s your kid throwing up on the side of the road, you hold her pukey hair out of her face and hold her head close to yours because she needs you to. And you don’t even really smell the barf. (Until afterwards.)
One of my biggest fears when I was pregnant was that I wouldn’t know what to do when my kids were sick. But I did, even at the beginning. When your kid is sick you give them sips of water or apple juice. You give them all the cuddles they need, sometimes some Tylenol. And you hug the hell out of them. Any of the stuff you have going on (like my term paper that’s due tomorrow), it just goes away. Not forever, and not necessarily because you have time to put it away, but because it has to. Because this is your baby we’re talking about.
I don’t know if I’m going to get that paper written (I’m. So. Tired.) and I don’t know if the prof will give me an extension. And quite frankly, right now, I don’t care. Because my baby needs me. Because we’re in survival mode.