If I were asked what one parental tasks is the true initiation into parenthood, I would have to say it is the cleaning up of vomit. Little else compares to the sight, the smell, the shock factor and the loss of sleep that accompanies little ones with a stomach virus. Once you’ve dealt with the above, you can truly consider yourself initiated into parenthood.
It was Friday evening after a long week. I was exhausted. After a day full of housecleaning and laundry, I decided to take a long hot shower (a rare treat for a mom, right?). As usual, my shower was interrupted by pounding on the door. Seriously, can’t kids entertain themselves for a few minutes?! Will I ever be able to take a shower in PEACE?! I can’t even go into the bathroom without little fingers under the door or a sudden and “urgent” need arising on the other side of the door. Anyway, these are the type of thoughts that go through my head as I answer “What?!” in an admittedly unpleasant tone.
As it turns out, this particular shower interruption was completely valid. “Mommy, Caleb is PUKING!” Sure enough. He had complained of a stomach ache earlier in the evening, but I mistakenly assumed he had gas pains or something. When my daughter complains of a stomach ache, I immediately get a large bowl and raise the puke threat level to red. she is the one that has thrown up after too long on a tire swing. Caleb, on the other hand, had gone so long without throwing up, that he did not even remember how traumatic it is and asked in a shaky voice, “Am I going to die?”
Similar to Murphy’s Law, there must be a law stating that children will always throw up on something that is absorptive and cannot be easily thrown into the washing machine - such as carpet or the interior of an automobile.
Here’s where I have to give credit to my very sweet husband. He actually has done most of the vomit cleaning over the past nearly eight years of parenthood. Ladies, if you are dating, don’t settle for a guy that would not do this!
This past week, we celebrated our 14-year anniversary. (Actually, I should say that the date passed and celebrating may happen at some point in the future when we’re not busy cleaning vomit and such).
So while we were busy cleaning the carpet and doing laundry, Caleb fell asleep on a freshly-cleaned-after-camping sleeping bag in our bedroom. Here’s where I have to mention my sweet daughter. The same little girl that has been tormenting her brother much of the summer, magically transformed into the nurturing little nurse. After giving him some water and covering him with blankets, Faith snuggled up next to him and promised to stay beside him all night!
Here he is, asleep with his face in a bowl:
I was taken back to when I was about his age. After a bout with the stomach flu that resulted in throwing up all over my parents’ bed during a time when we had no running water, I developed severe vomit anxiety and would not sleep without my face in a pan (have I mentioned that I have some anxiety issues?). For several months, I woke up with a crease on my face from the side of the pan. I still remember how that pan smelled and how the metal felt against my face. Very soon after that, I developed a fear of germs and washed my hands anytime I touched ANYTHING. My hands were completely raw for months. Anyway, I digress.
Tonight I’m spending Saturday night hanging out with my sick child. And I want to tell my own mother how much I appreciate all the times she cleaned up puke in the middle of the night... And all the times she stayed home with me when I was sick.
Here’s to moms (and dads and grandparents, etc.) everywhere who are so committed to those little ones that they sacrifice sleep and fun to hang out with the little sick kiddos. And who bravely face the gag factor to clean up unspeakable messes!