Motherhood: the messy & gross

Last week started on Monday with my daughter waking up sniffly.  She wasn’t in full-blown cold mode.  She wasn’t in too sick to want to play mode.  She was just a bit sniffly.  Being the awesome mother that I am, I was a bit perturbed.  My husband and I were scheduled to have our first weekend away since having our son.  And it would be our longest trip (four hours!) away from our children ever.  We were to have two nights in a hotel to ourselves.  We were going to the symphony and checking out some museums.  We were looking forward to time to reconnect.  I wasn’t super excited to be reconnecting with colds.

Fortunately, my daughter never got worse and was just sniffly most of the week.  By Wednesday, as was inevitable, her brother was sniffly, too.  And my throat was scratchy with sinus drainage. I was still a bit irritated, but I consoled myself that at least it wasn’t worse than that.  With just the sniffles, I could leave them with my parents for the weekend and not worry or have to cancel our non-refundable, hotel-already-paid-for and symphony-tickets-pre-purchased trip.

Then came Wednesday night or Thursday morning.  It was 1 a.m.  And my son was in his crib throwing up.  At first I thought it was just a gag reflux from his cold.  But then he continued.  And he got warm with a slight fever.  And he was just plain sick.  I sat up with him the rest of the night.  I held him in the glider rocker in his room and tried to soothe him.  I changed sheets a time or two. I changed his pajamas and Sleep Sack even more.  I put laundry in to wash in the middle of the night.  My husband, bless him, helped coordinate the laundry, clean the bucket we were using and anything else he could.  Once things had settled down, I sent him back to bed and just stayed rocking with our son.  Rocking and rocking.

When I could tell he was finally settled down enough to sleep and that he wasn’t resting well laying on me, I put him in his crib.  He didn’t want me out of sight.  I grabbed a toss pillow in his room and a cozy Spider-man blanket my Aunt Glenda had given him and settled into the floor beside him.  He was exhausted.  I was exhausted, but I knew his big sister would be up within an hour.

Fortunately, my husband was working from home that day, so he was able to get up with our daughter and get her some breakfast when she got up 45 minutes later.  I heard her and even tried getting up to see to her myself, but my restlessly sleeping little dude launched into wails as soon as I was out of sight.  I shut his door and went back to him.  My husband took over with our daughter.  I settled the baby boy down and snuggled into the hard floor beside him feeling the ache in my hips and back.  I got 50 blessed minutes of sleep then until he was awake again.

My poor sick little dude last week snuggled into me.

We whisked my daughter off to my parents’ house to hopefully avoid her getting her brother’s germs.  I spent the day covered with a baby.  He wanted to be held.  He wept often.  He was miserable.  And he mostly wanted me.  I started to wonder if we’d need to cancel our trip, but I didn’t dwell on it.  What I dwelled on was how to best comfort my son.  I tried my best to console him.  I had a luxurious 20-minute lunch break to eat a salad before he was up and crying again.  It was quite a day indeed.  It involved more floor napping and one two-hour snooze fest on our dining room couch.  I was barely comfortable, but I didn’t care.  The little dude was finally getting some much needed rest.  I wasn’t about to move.

The good news is as the day wore on, our son slowly felt better.  He was able to keep food down.  He was able to drink Pedialyte.  He even got down and played just a tiny bit.  By bedtime, he had a good bath and was finally acting like himself, albeit very tired.  We decided that unless something changed, we’d go on our trip the next afternoon.  He continued to get better, so we left him in my parents’ capable hands and checked in with them frequently.  He kept improving and was sleeping well.  His sister was only slightly sniffly still and showing no signs of a tummy bug.

Our trip was a good one.  Our second and last night there, however, I came down with the same bug.  You don’t need details, but it was miserable.  I barely remember our trip back home.  I slept most of the way after having been up again most of the night.

I’ve done some thinking and some realizing.  I’ve thought about moms and how we are.  I never thought to leave my son’s side when he was sick.  In fact, it was only when I was getting ready for bed that night that I realized I hadn’t brushed my teeth, washed my face or combed my hair the entire day.  I probably wouldn’t have changed out of my pajamas either had it not been a necessity when they got messy.  It just didn’t matter.  All that mattered was being there for the sick baby boy who needed his mama.  As I dealt with being sick myself, I thought how even knowing he’d share his germs with me and I’d be miserably sick that I’d do it all again.  That’s what moms do (and dads, too!).

I don’t deserve accolades.  I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.  I didn’t do anything that millions of moms across the globe do.  I didn’t do anything that billions of moms haven’t done since the time of Eve.  I didn’t do anything that my own mother didn’t do for me.  I remember one particularly bad stomach virus when I was maybe in elementary school.  I slept in the hallway outside of the bathroom because it was so miserable.  But, I didn’t sleep in that hallway alone.  My mom was right there.  And she was up with me every single time I was up.  She was there.  She hugged me and didn’t worry about germs.  She wiped my face and didn’t care how gross I was.  That’s motherhood.

Sometimes it’s so very messy and gross.  It just is.  But, it’s what we do.  When there are little faces looking up at you with sick eyes, you’d do anything to help those little ones feel better.  I’d have moved mountains to take care of my son last week in his misery.  I’d have done whatever he needed and not given it a second thought.  It’s what we do.  It’s sometimes hard and often exhausting.  My son didn’t thank me for holding him tight and not leaving his side.  My daughter hasn’t thanked me for the same things when she’s been super sick, but neither of them have to.  It’s my job.  Above all that I do for them, above all that I give them, above all that I want to teach them, I want them to feel loved.  I want them to always know that no matter what time of day it is, no matter how gross they are, no matter how needy they are, that I will always be there for them.  I am their mother.  It is my job.  And I am thankful for it.

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