Less than an hour after I hit “publish” on a post about unexpectedly perfect parenting days, my daughter started puking.
And she kept puking for the rest of the night. I got maybe two hours of sleep, and for a full 24 hours, our apartment reeked of an unholy combination of Clorox and vomit.
I had to laugh, because if I didn’t, I’d cry. Things like this always happen, don’t they? After parents have a wonderful day or an awesome epiphany, the universe always seems to smack them down to size: Settle down now. You don’t have it all figured out, and you’re not in control of anything. What better way to show that than with a delightful stomach bug? After all, puke is the great equalizer.
But here’s the crazy thing: When the puke is hitting the proverbial fan, there’s always a silver lining.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m mostly completely miserable when this is happening. I’m frantic about getting the baby to the bathroom in time to hold her head over the toilet bowl. I’m freaking out that puke is all over her, me, the carpet and occasionally the wall. I’m worried that she’s getting dehydrated. I’m exhausted because this always happens in the middle of the night—and for the entire night. I’m in tears because she’s so unhappy and there’s nothing I can do. I’m panicking because everything I’d planned to do over the next God-knows-how-long has suddenly been shelved. And I’m freaking out because now the rest of us will probably come down with this horror show.
So, yeah, that sucks.
But in the midst of it all, there’s something beautiful about caring for a pukey baby. It’s like a button gets pushed in my brain, and Crisis Mom is suddenly ready for action. All of the other nonsense of the day fades away, and I can focus solely on this little creature who needs my help.
Plus, in those quiet, sad moments after a puking episode, there’s a weird sense of peace and purpose. I am in the moment with her—or with my son—in a way that rarely happens because life is usually happening, and I realize that I’m not just half-bad at this mom thing—I was made for this, for these moments.
I rock her in my arms, push away the damp hair from her forehead and kiss her sad, little flushed face over and over and over again.
I am so sorry that this is happening, baby.
Shhhhh, shhhhh, you are going to be OK.
Mommy is here. You are all right, sweetheart. You are going to be all right.
In those moments, there is truly nothing else. It is just me and her in our own little world, and she is the only thing that matters.