Thursday, February 9, 2012

ugh.  sick kids.
ah, ya' know what?  haven't cursed here in awhile.
let's just say it.
it sucks a**.
(i'm not really cursing if i use the star thingy's.)
i curse when i'm nervous.  it's like anxiety-driven tourette's.
but there is NOTHING worse.  NOTHING. 
honestly.  i really couldn't come with anything worse,
then watching a child, particularly yours,
in pain, helpless, vulnerable.
puking out one end, pooping out the other.
their little body attacked by something much bigger than them.
feverish and weak, moaning and miserable.
how DARE that filthy bugger mess with MY child.
but they do. . .all the time.
and then spreading like wild fire,
to attack any weak, little being in its path.
it's bullshit.
and before you know it, there YOU are,
not holding back the nappy hair of your college roommate after an all-night drinking binge,
(which my God, wasn't that just yesterday?!)
but now, over a short decade later, in a whole other world,
tucking back the loose mocha-colored strands of your baby girl,
as she vomits for the 18th time.
before you know it, there you are.
in that weird time warp, 
where you have to ask, "uh?  what's going on?  would someone wake me up please?  
how did i get here?  who's this little life in front of me, bent over the toilet, that i have to care for?"
and then, carrying her frayed little body back to bed,
where i watch her and PRAY for her to sleep it off,
that's it's nothing.  just a bug.
(ok.  FIRST of all, never thought i'd own a video monitor.  SECOND of all, never thought we'd use it to watch for seizures.  but it HAS come in handy. . .note picture above.)
i have weird thoughts in moments where my brain is trying to decide how to cope.
it reboots quickly, shoving me back in to the moment, but it's weird.
in those moments of great duress, i seem to get sucked in to a contemplative place,
(oh, hell.  i'm always contemplating something.)
but a, "wow.  now this is interesting.  not sure how i got here, but here i am."
i think it's my minds defense mechanism.  it shuts down for a second and then reconnects to the present, but not all quite there?  like my brain, temporarily, becomes occupied by a grateful dead groupie, rolling a joint.  "wow.  this is trippy, man."
i know.  weird.
it's what happens.
but many of you parents will agree,  
when your child is sick or suffering,
the world stops and sometimes, so does your voice of strength, bombarded by something MUCH stronger and more convincing.
that TOO is a crazy occurence.
and then everything outside of you and your child, comes to a screeching halt, ceasing to exist until your baby is better.
rooms become quarantined,
your sanctuary of a bedroom is transformed in to YOUR version of an ICU,
your bedside table a pharmacy of juice cups, water cups, syringes for tylenol,
untouched bowls of dry crackers and plates of nibbled toast.
it's brutal.
and throw in a serious lack of sleep, the tired mind of a mother,
well, you've got an unstable place.
AND as the parent, you can easily find yourself in that place of self-blame.
no matter what the scenario.
whether you've witnessed the death of a child or simply the innards of a nasty sinus infection.
that's where i go, at least.
"what could i have done differently?  what did i do wrong?  how could i have prevented this?  it's all my fault, i'm sure.  i'm failing somewhere. . ."
and the thoughts continue. . .
"God, we've been doing TOO much lately.  the kids have been run ragged!  we've been eating like garbage!  i KNEW we shouldn't have gone to burger king the other night!  we were asking for it!  just one crappy cheeseburger away from a stomach virus!  or maybe she got it somewhere else?  ugh.  i really need to be on the kids about washing their hands better and more often!  i'm so bad about that!  no wonder they keep getting sick!  charlie's always licking something!  i need to watch them like a hawk!  i could've prevented this, right?  right?"
no.  not always.  and we know this as parents, deep down.
we're not in control, as much as we like to think and behave like we are.
whether we see illness slowly creeping in, days before the storm hits, 
in the subtle changes of their personality or sleep patterns,
or if it descends fast and heavily out of nowhere, 
we are left, the parents, simply to surrender.
to parent.  to nurse, nurture, comfort and clean.
that's all we can do.
and it sucks ass.
(done with the asterisk.)
we shut down the party.  go in to lock down mode. 
making the four corners of our house a make-shift hospital.
and all we can do is wait.  ride out the storm.
almost as awful as watching.
the waiting.
but kept plenty busy with the never-ending stream of laundry.
soiled sheets, dirty towels, smelly puke buckets.
THIS is the stuff mike rowe should be documenting.
parenting.  it's a dirty job.  but someone has to do it.
(p.s.  mike?  if you're reading this?  i love you.  don't tell brian.)
but it's these moments, we bypass the pot-smoking dude that manages our coping skills,
and perform.
this is when i shine.
where the nurse i wanted to be, the social worker i hoped to become,
the coach, the massage therapist, the provider of care and love,
is who i am and who, after just a few minutes of thinking,
effortlessly encompass my whole being.
gently placing a cool wash cloth on a feverish forehead,
calmly and quietly counseling, "i know this feels awful, honey.  mommy's here.  just let me know what i can get you."
coaching with confidence, partly for them, mostly for us, "i know you feel miserable, but you'll be healthy before you know it.  you're doing so good."
massaging achy little arms and feet, in hopes of kneading the darkness right out.
fighting back my OWN tears, as any good nurse would do,
trying to detach myself from the issue at hand, the little body before me,
doing my best to fulfill all the roles that i thought i was made to do, SUPPOSED to be doing with my life, ten years ago, between all-night house parties,
to now, in the form of the job i was TRULY made to do, mother.
at the end of the day, the only job that matters and that i have found my place in.
for me, it helps in those dark and treacherous hours of the night, of watching. . .waiting,
trying to keep one eye open but wanting desperately to sleep,
to think of, "well,-it-could-be-so-much-worse,' situations.
there are families who live in one bedroom apartments,
maybe a family of five kids or more, that huddle together on one bed to sleep.
with little to no food, clean water, two parents with the kindness or the energy, to nurse little ones back to health.
THAT would be awful.
so i have to find gratitude somewhere.  not in other peoples' suffering,
but in the fact that we have SO much.
we have everything we need and so much more.
and what i wouldn't give to help those families out too.
but for the time being, do what i can to help out my own.
 (is it possible to be beautiful when you're sick?  yes.
this girl is proof.:)
calling forth all i've learned about the anxiety laiden situations that life brings,
and how to manage.
how to put one foot in front of the other, the best i can, in ANY moment.
no matter how scared, how tired, how deep in despair.
by finding breath.
THAT is what i've learned to do in these moments,
to stay present, not in the 'what could i have done's'
or the 'what's going to happen's,'
but here.
focusing not just on the rising and falling of my babies tired little body,
but of my own.  my OWN breath as an anchor to hold me down to the moment,
in a peaceful and quiet way.
and that always carries me through, every time.
vigilantly praying through each load of laundry,
from washer to dryer, dryer to table, that these feelings, or THEIR illness, won't stay long. . .trusting in the truth, that it never does.
and with each wash and rinse cycle, send it on its way,
with each inhale and exhale,
letting go and surrendering.


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