Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Post #160: In which I whine an awful lot and then try to learn something

Did you ever have one of those weeks?

I did. Week before last, actually. Some people would say, "when it rains it pours." I would say, "it felt like our house was on a vortex of crap."

Those of you who have or have recently had preschool-aged children understand that once your kid goes to daycare, you get every imaginable communicable illness, every time it comes around. I used to pride myself on having an iron constitution, but ever since Monkey started bringing home those lovely germs, I'm amazed at how often I am knocked flat by something that barely fazes him.  Two weekends ago, despite my best efforts and loads of Emergen-C, I came down with a nasty little virus that came with a fever, sore throat, sinus infection, bronchitis, and after a couple of days, a double ear infection.

Little Fozzie Bear got it, too, so we were both miserable while Monkey was feeling fine at full blast. Just in time for Hubs to go out of town on a business trip. I got sick Friday night, he left Monday, and the three of us were planning to drive out to New Orleans on the following Friday with my mother-in-law to meet him for a wedding. Over those four days, I was supposed to be packing myself and both boys for the long car ride, working, and writing.

But then I didn't get better, and neither did Fozzie Bear. He was so unhappy, he couldn't sleep, and needed to be held 100% of the time. So I took him to the doctor, got antibiotics for his ears, and then promptly lost my voice. I cancelled my clients and the nanny (to keep from getting her or her other charges sick). Tuesday I got worse instead of better, so I took myself to the doctor -- moms know what a rarity it is, and how BAD you have to feel, to take yourself to the doctor. You pretty much have to be losing a limb or at death's door. More antibiotics for my ears and sinuses.

Cranky baby, no nanny, feeling crappy. Hubs out of town. To top it off, Monkey is brilliantly mastering the art of being an almost-three year old, which means he can annoy you within inches of dropping him off at an orphanage and running like hell.

Times like those, I miss my parents more than ever. Especially my mom. When you're really sick, you just want someone to come stroke your hair and tell you it will be alright. Or to give your kids dinner so you can go get a shower. Whichever. That night, in the midst of trying to negotiate both boys through dinner, medicine and bath, I sat down and cried for my Mom. Big, pathetic tears. Monkey came and asked me why I was crying, and I answered him honestly in my raspy squeak: "I miss my Mommy today."

He said, a little befuddled, "You miss your Mommy?"

I nodded. He knows who my Mom was, in theory, though of course he never got to meet her. She died eight years before he was born. Sometimes, however, kids understand simple things that we have forgotten. "It's okay, Mommy," he said. "You can talk to her. I'll show you where Grandma Peggy is."

He motioned for me to follow him, and feeling a little silly, I did. He led me upstairs to the hallway where we have a black and white picture of my mom, taken around her senior year in high school when she was Homecoming Queen. It's one of my favorites. "There she is," he said simply. "Talk to her."

Needless to say, this did not stop the crying. I held him close, and for a few precious moments, everything was okay. I mean, in a couple minutes, he was back to throwing enormous tantrums for no rational reason, and Fozzie was crying nonstop as I tried to funnel Tylenol down his throat. But still. I got them to bed and called my Mom's childhood best friend, who was nice enough to talk and let me listen for a while.

The next morning, my sinus infection decided to take over my whole face. I woke up with one eye swollen shut and both eyes leaking some kind of disgusting goo. Pink eye. Awwwwesome. Back to the doctor, this time with both boys in tow, where a nice but odd nurse suggested I could've saved myself a trip by putting baby pee in my eye. I took this in stride, and said to her without irony, "That's a good idea. I guess since I'm already here, though, maybe I'll just go ahead with the drops."

My aunt came that evening to help me get the boys to bed and catch up on dishes, which was an enormous blessing. One nice thing about not having lots of family nearby and available to help is that you really appreciate what you get. The nanny was returning Thursday afternoon, and I had a desperately-needed haircut and pedicure scheduled to get ready for the almost-forgotten-in-the-shuffle wedding. Oh, and I needed shoes and jewelry to go with my new dress, too. Plus the packing to leave early Friday morning. No problem. I had five hours of nanny time and a plan to use every minute wisely.

We stopped by the pediatrician on the way to preschool Thursday morning, since Monkey had been complaining about his ears and I didn't want to take any chances on our road trip. It turned out that saying "my ears hurt" was just another fun way to get attention (sigh) because they were fine. So we dropped him off and I went home to try to pull some things together before the nanny arrived. Half an hour before she was supposed to get there, I got a call from the school. Monkey had been hit in the head with a sand bucket by another kiddo, and they thought he *might* need stitches. I think I actually said to the poor teacher, "Are you kidding me?"

She was not, in fact, kidding me. I called the nanny and bribed her with the entire contents of our refrigerator and pantry to skip picking up her own lunch and get to our house a few minutes early. She did, and so I drove frantically to school and picked up my brave but bloody Monkey. I canceled my hair appointment (for the third time in two weeks) on the way to urgent care, where Monkey and I went through the decidedly un-fun process of getting him his first stitches (three of them).

It was around then that it happened. I realized the week had defeated me. I had not packed a thing, I had not seen a single client, had not written a word. No hair cut or pedicure. Nothing had gone as I'd planned. But as I held my terrified, screaming child while the doctor speared him with a fish hook needle, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Woman plans, universe laughs. But maybe for a reason.

Even though I was packing at midnight and had frizzy hair and an emergency stop for accessories along the interstate, the trip was uneventful and the wedding quite lovely. I got to spend Mother's Day in New Orleans with Hubs, the boys, and my wonderful mother-in-law. And I think I appreciated it more for the trials and tribulations of the previous week.

Originally I thought this blog might be about Motherhood, or Mother's Day. And it is. I thought it might be about learning to give up control and replace it with gratitude. It's that, too. But since it took me an extra week to get back to writing it, I've realized there is more to it...

Throughout my frustrating week, I reminded myself that there are lots of parents of young kids out there who have partners whose jobs pull them out of town far, far more often than mine. Some of those parents have great support systems around them to help out, and some don't.

As Memorial Day approaches, though, I started thinking about sacrifice, and it occurred to me that one of the hardest weeks of my cushy life is a standard week for many military families. Parents and grandparents, husbands and wives, give every minute of every day just to keep their families up and running. They do this while their loved ones are not only away from home, but putting themselves in peril for all our sakes. If I'd had to add Hubs' bodily safety to my list of worries last week, or the prospect of not being able to see him for months on end.... well, I can't imagine.

It's a tiny gesture, but I'm going to be offering The Marriage Pact for free for a couple of days this week, to give folks a chance to pad their Kindles for the long weekend and the start of summer. If you haven't yet read it, I hope you'll enjoy it. I also hope you'll have a chance to spend time this holiday weekend enjoying things you love, with people you love.

As for me, I have some writing to catch up on, and I'm looking forward to some down time with the fam. Of course, we will take a few minutes this weekend to honor the sacrifices of those who've given their lives for our country, and those who risk their lives each day. This year, I'm also going to think especially about the families they leave behind -- some for a while, some forever -- who make equally important and difficult sacrifices. I'm in awe of the strength of those families, and grateful for them. "Thank you," seems inadequate, but I'll say it anyway: Thank You.

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