My wake-up call this morning was a pink water bottle slamming into my nose along with the words “FILL THIS!” that were honestly not that sweet sounding from my four year old who was snuggled up against me all night. And when I say “snuggled up against me” I mean “stayed up most of the night listening to the sounds that humans make when they are about to puke, so when she did, we had a decent chance of catching the puke in the bowl or even making it to the bathroom.”
And this was night two.
Which should’ve been night three. Because three nights ago I thought she was just fine when I put her to bed. Never think a child is ‘just fine’ when they’ve had a fever much of day, had not been able to keep any food down, and slept fitfully on your lap most of the day.
Because three hours after I put her to bed I heard the sound coming from the monitor that no parent wants to hear. The sound of vomit. Everywhere. This is also when I admit that I should know by now not to let my kids sleep with 45 stuffed animals, four pillows, eight blankets, and their American Girl Dolls. When a four year old vomits in their bed – they vomit everywhere and on everything.
I remember a night of vomit in my own bed when I was about five years old, mainly because my parents still talk about this evening if I ever bring something up about my childhood that bothered me. They’ll say “Do you remember that night you woke-up sick and stood up on your bed and then turned in circles as you projectile vomited all over your room?” And then I can’t talk about any of those petty growing-up-injustices that I’m sure I made up because their cleaning up vomit out of carpets, curtains, bedding, clothing, furniture, brothers, and off of walls trumps all minor teenage angst I’ve been holding in.
So that’s what I did three nights ago. And without gagging. Parenthood gives us several super human powers – but the greatest is that we typically do not gag when dealing with some of the nastiest things out there. We can turn off the feeling that this is probably the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done or smelled, and just whisk that vomit-caked child into our arms(even when wearing a dry clean only wool sweater) and gently bathe her off and change her into clean clothing all the while keeping our voices soft and soothing. We place her gently onto a clean surface with a warm blanket and begin stripping sheets and balling up blankets and animals so vomit doesn’t drip as we walk to the laundry. We rinse the soiled items in the laundry tub before washing and drying everything three times. Then we tiptoe softly back to our sick child and lay her on the bed that we’ve now prepared consisting simply of a beach towel covered mattress and a red plastic bowl.
Once they are resting, we change our own soaked clothing and shower away the chunks from our hair, put on clean pajamas and snuggle in next to them ignoring the stench that still lingers, and we both drift in and out of sleep awaiting the next wave of nausea, or the demand for water.
Because this is what we do as parents. Withing gagging. Without complaint. Without notice that this is what we’re signing up for before they are born.
And we’ll never ask for thanks later that we did this for our children. We’ll just save this little memory as a little ammunition for later when our kids start telling stories about how bad we were as parents.
“Hey, do you remember that time you vomited in my face?”
That will shut them down.