Project Kindness (Day 12)

Looks like I may have reached the end of a streak. One that I was terribly proud of. I was just talking to a friend the other day about how I never get sick. I surmised that maybe mamas don’t get the same kind of sick as their kids so they can more easily nurse them back to health. Maybe I even mentioned Darwin in some random way. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Today I was the sickest I can remember being since I had that pesky ovary removed over six years ago. Actually, the symptoms felt pretty darn similar. But I knew it couldn’t be my other ovary because every single member of our five-person household has been rather violently ill within the last 24 hours. The first thing that comes to my mind is that horrible scene in Witches of Eastwick (If you don’t remember it, you may not want to Google it.) The baby started yesterday morning and we just chalked it up to her probable Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. She didn’t eat anything at all yesterday, but didn’t complain either. All day yesterday, Poppy complained that her tummy hurt, too. Magically it always felt better when there was mention of chocolate cake and ice cream. She is historically prone to being sensitive about the food she eats picks at. Again, we didn’t give the complaints much credit. Until…Russell, who so generously volunteered to take the twins to Barnes and Noble while the baby napped, called me from the driveway. ”Bring towels!” was just about all he said. I could not have prepared myself for what I witnessed when I opened the sliding door of the van. First, Charlie catapulted right over me screaming, “Ewwwww! Gross!” as he ran to the other side of  the yard. Poor pitiful Poppy was sitting there whimpering in her car seat. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say she looked like a hapless volunteer on a Nickelodeon show that featured abundant amounts of pink slime. It was truly overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start. She was so embarrassed, she didn’t want to get out, so I had to forcibly remove her by carrying her. I considered also running across the yard screaming, “Ewwwww!”, but that probably would not have helped much at that particular moment. While she was having a Silkwood-like shower (all the while whimpering), that’s when I knew for certain that I would be the next to fall.. Can you imagine the look of horror on my dear sensitive daughter’s face when she realized that her mother was actually throwing up on her in the shower. It was classic National Lampoons, except it wasn’t, um, funny. Next scene, Russell walks in with plastic shopping bags full of “evidence” from the car and announces he doesn’t feel well either. In my feverish stupor, I imagined him looking like a black and white domino at that particular instant. I’ll spare you some of the details, but I will mention a few things. Poppy and Charlie were very clearly feeling vulnerable as they watched both of their parents, in unison, doing what people do who have horrible stomach viruses. Mary Hazel kept sidling up to me in the bathroom and patting my back. At one point, she started imitating me retching in the toilet. It was inappropriately funny and much-needed comic relief. Charlie stepped up and jinxed himself volunteered to bring us all breakfast in bed tomorrow since he was “way out of the deep-dark woods”. Somehow, I managed to provide nourishment to Charlie and MH while I was running back and forth to the bathroom and Poppy’s bedside. When it was approaching a reasonable bedtime for everyone, Russell and I collapsed on the nearest pieces of furniture and drifted in and out of intelligible consciousness. That’s when I remembered, I was unable to complete my random act of kindness today. Another streak broken?! Dag. In my defense, I did make two beautiful loaves of banana bread destined for neighborhood deliveries. They just didn’t get delivered. And now I’m pretty sure nobody would want them. In my delirious state, I managed to somehow find a kindness lesson in all of this. As I laid curled up in the fetal position at the base of Poppy’s twin bed, I was reminded of the true nature of empathy. How many times a day (this day) did I blow off my own daughter’s need for attention – physically and emotionally? Yes, I’m a pretty busy mama these days, and I look forward to my very sparse “me time”, but I wish had been more sensitive to her pleas for real attention. Because at that very moment, all I really wanted was my own mother to take care of me. I remember how she used to sing me some of my grandfather’s favorite hymns, smooth back my hair, and stayed with me until I fell asleep. Although this was one of the more wretched days in recent memory, I will tuck that little reminder in my pocket. Be empathetic when it really counts. Especially with your own children.

Russell just rolled over and said, *Since I just cleaned up your vomit, would you please bring me a drink of water?” I brought him the water, but we realized in our stupor that it was Charlie who was the last to visit the bathroom, not me. And then there were none. Oy.

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