“Honey, did you hear that? I think someone barfed.” And so at 2AM on Tuesday night began a very, very long day. Someone indeed had barfed. Someone small — a four year old who thankfully was in the bottom bunk rather than the top one when the event occurred. For him, the next 24 hours were a fever-induced haze, much of which included an old plastic bucket, a toilet, a toothbrush and a wet washcloth – all the necessities of life when your stomach turns against you and inside out over and over again. For me, those 24 hours were memorable in ways both expected and not.
First, the expected. We’ve all had sick kids. We know what it’s like. The smell is disgusting and the laundry is overwhelming. The worries grow as the fever rises and last night’s dinner turns to bile and dry heaves. We hug our little ones. We do our best to soothe and comfort them. Then the sun rises and along with it, perhaps a few siblings. Our eyelids are heavy and our tempers are short. Though sleep has eluded us, the day’s responsibilities await. Empty dishwasher. Serve breakfast. Make lunches. Pack snacks. Walk dog. Go to work. Wait, work? You can’t go to work when a barf-bathed boy lies in a puddle on the floor asking for his Mama. You just can’t. So you don’t. You send the others off to school and email the office. “Working from home today. Sick kid. Calling in for all meetings and available on cell and email as needed.”
And then the unexpected begins. “Is today a Mama day? Are you staying home with me?” asks the volatile vomiter with a twinkle in his eyes. “You bet little buddy. This mama is staying home. Right here. With you.” And then he leaps into your arms and hugs you tight. The thought crosses your mind that it’s a good thing you’re not headed to the office because you now have a chunk of last night’s regurgitated meat sauce on your shirt. You quickly dismiss that thought and return the embrace. “I love you Mama,” your little man says. And you know you’ve done the right thing. You know that right now, you are exactly where you need to be. Where you want to be. You see how precious this time is, this hug, this snuggle, this moment. You actually pause to take in the moment. You may recall the freckle on his nose, the cowlick in his hair, the softness of his pajamas. Granted, the lingering odor is not one to remember but, this moment, this feeling, this sense of being so needed and so loved is unforgettable. Bring it on sick day. Bring. It. On. And, bring a few more of those hugs with you.