A feverish, dry-heave shaking, wrapped in blankets, very weary friday flip off goes to stomach viruses. At 4am Thursday morning I was awakened by The Hare panting and crying by the side of the bed. By the sound of her moans, groans and stomach clutching I fully expected to find her intestines hanging out of her body. My mind immediately raced to when she last ate, exactly 7 hours prior at a Wendy’s drive thru after gymnastics practice.
“Hmmphh,” snorted DW, “What’s going on?”
“I think The Hare has food poisoning. ”
There had been no signs leading up to illness. Less than 20 minutes later, The Hare and I were kneeling in front of the porcelain throne. She is usually a fantastic patient, never complaining and very calm. Except when it comes to vomiting. She panics.
“IT’S COMING, OH NO IT’S COMING!” she cried.
It was quick and shook her whole body, all 53 lbs of her.
“Well, it’s was definitely the chicken nuggets. Definitely,” whimpered The Hare.
DW and I tried to explain to her that her body was just expelling whatever the last meal in her system was and that it might not have been the nuggets at all. I don’t think she really cared what was causing the illness, she just wanted it to be over. Unfortunately she and I maintained this very intimate relationship with the bathroom until 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon yesterday.
Apparently 3 more gymnasts were suffering the same ailments, which indicated it was a virus and not food poisoning. Half-way thru the day I desperately wanted her to take a shower and rinse off the smell of sickness. Her hair was plastered to her neck. She had changed underwear a handful of times. But she was too scared to be in the shower alone, even though I assured her it was okay to throw-up in the shower. It would just rinse down the drain since there was nothing solid left in her system.
“Can’t you take a shower with me?” she pleaded. “I need you.”
It has been a long time since I have showered with either of my children, after all, they are 12 and 8 now. But while we were absorbing the steamy water, I melted in the arms wrapped around my waist, her head rested just below my chest. All I could think about were the years my girls used to play and dance with their Barbies under the pulsating rhythm of the water. I remembered washing their hair and little bodies while singing made up shower songs. For all the times she has insisted she is “too big” or “I can do it myself”, I could see in that moment she was still the tiny princess I brought home from the hospital.
Another sheepish, self-absorbed, under the covers, flannel clad flip off goes to myself. I am embarrassed to admit that before the shower, this unexpected and unwelcome pajama day was full of frustration and bitterness. Everytime I would leave her side she would cry for me, “Mom…I need you.” It felt like an inconvenience. Afterall, I was still responsible for bringing a meal to another family, taking The Tortoise back and forth to practice, laundry and dinner. I knew she would be out of school the next day too, requiring me to cancel my hair appointment and miss the exercise class I had just signed up for. I was pouting about how her illness was effecting me. The shower washed away my selfishness and left me with a clean perspective. This is exactly why I am a stay at home mom. There was no job to call, no quota to miss, no substitute required. Just a small child to care for, and that is what I did the rest of the day. (Thank you Pam’s Gourmet for your delivery service and Panera’s drive thru window.) Later she will forget about how much her stomach hurt. She will remember that mom was there for her every need. We lounged in my bed watching HG TV for hours until her body finally submitted to sleep.
Her fever thrashed through the night, twisting sheets and bodies until it finally broke just before the dawn. I am exhausted from sleeping next to her, but relieved that there is color back in her cheeks. Today is another unexpected pajama day, but welcome to stay.