It is definitely 3:33 in the afternoon. Halfway to hell.
Did you know that showers are a relatively novel idea? For a long time, the only people who were found putting themselves under running water were mountain men and witches.
I suppose that I justify myself, as I have not yet brushed my teeth or taken a shower today. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. No, I did not stay up late thinking about the mysteries of the universe or creating unforgettable characters. No, I didn’t do something cool last night that I don’t remember, and that probably has very embarrassing pictures to go along with it.
No. I was taking care of a sick child.
This is one of the deep secrets of being a mother. While children are a blessing and totally amazing, there are nights when you really just want to roll over and go back to sleep, but biological forces take over. People without children sometimes ask, “How do you do it? All those sleepless nights, I just couldn’t take it!” Yeah, I don’t really want to take it either, but nature punches me in the butt until I get up and find out what’s going on.
I remember shortly after Abigail was born, feeling like an invisible tripwire was placed between her crib and my eyelids. She wouldn’t even have to cry, just rustle too loudly, or make slight bird noises, and I felt like that scene in Pulp Fiction where they stab that girl in the heart with a needle full of adrenaline. I would jump out of bed, heart climbing out of my throat, blindly running in a direction that I hoped was my daughter, thinking Oh God, don’t let her die…
Is it like that for everyone? I hope not.
Anyway, invariably, I would run to her room and check on her and she would be fine. Then I would pass out on the floor next to her crib where Kyle would find me in the morning, purple circles taking the place of eye makeup for one more day.
As Abigail has gotten older, I have become less tightly wound, I like to believe. Last night was a good example. When she was a tiny baby, her remotest sound would have caused me to jump out of bed. As a feverish 4-year-old girl, she just makes me resentful that I have to get out of bed all night long.
I feel guilty about that, but its true! If she would just consider MY needs for once!!
The poor thing had a fever all day long yesterday and it broke right before bed. I let her “sleep” in my bed, just so I could keep a hand on her in case she got really sick again. She didn’t feel feverish during the night, but she woke up over and over again, asking me weird questions.
“Mom, I need your water, not this water.”
“Where is the cold blanket?”
“Is it morning yet?”
Finally, I realized that I had to get up in order to complete my work and she asked, “Where are you going? Is it time to wake up now?” I just grumbled in the most patient voice I could muster, “Work…go to sleep.” And left her on the bed.
Then next time I checked on her, she had a fever of 103. That made me feel pretty bad.
So, I realize with great clarity and reverence that I need to pull out that old overprotective mom who lies somewhere inside, brush her off and listen to what she has to say. My daughter may not be a baby anymore, but she is still young and the most precious thing in the world. Being able to jump when she needs me is an important skill to cultivate, especially as she starts to need me less and less.
When I realized what I had done, I immediately put her into the bathtub and gave her some ibuprofen to cool her down. It worked! Although she screamed at me (and if she could’ve, I think she would’ve cussed me out, too), her fever went down enough for me to feel less like the most horrible mother in the world, and more like a mother I would like to be. I even made her home make chicken soup.
So, even though I get caught up in judging myself moment by moment, I guess I’m not doing so bad. I have taken a little time to make goals to be more attentive, brought down my daughter’s fever, made home made chicken soup, and told you about it. Not only that, but I realize again why I decided to stay at home – to learn in brand new ways.
Being clean is way less important than learning to love yourself. I think knowing that is worth a stinky armpit now and then.