You know you’re really a mother when you’ve picked up your sleepy daughters from your mother-in-law’s house, you’re driving home from proudly watching your husband pass his first belt test in karate, and vomit hits the back of your neck. Twice. And you don’t wreck. Instead, you open the windows on a unseasonably cold evening so that you can drive the rest of the way home, all the while assuring the toddler behind you that she’s not in trouble and that you’ll get everything cleaned up when you get home.
After jabbering for half of the trip home, suddenly Helen got really quiet. That should have been my first clue. Helen never stops talking. Ever.
The diaper bag at her feet caught most of it, and thankfully there was a protective seat cover on the upholstery of the car, so cleanup was… well, minimal isn’t the right word, but I guess it was as minimal as one can expect in this scenario.
Alice seemed to know that this was not the time to be high-maintenance, and other than a few squawks, she was content to wait until I had time to get to her. Jerry was still at the dojo, watching the higher-ranked belt tests, and his cell phone was off. I was flying solo.
I emptied the car as best I could, including Alice and all of the supplies, and got Helen out last. I carried her straight to the bathtub and cleaned her off, but it turns out that was futile. She was sick for about 18 hours. I “slept” (and I use that term loosely) with Helen in her bed, with a trash can, baby wipes, and juice for her. She was willing to drink, though it wouldn’t stay down until we switched to Gatorade. ALL of the sheets and towels in this house have been washed in the past 24 hours or are in line to be washed. Jerry managed Alice and we traded when Alice needed my attention. All four of us slept on and off all day long to make up for last night.
And then, as if someone flicked a switch, at about 4pm Helen perked up. She’s only managed to hold down Gatorade and crackers since last night, so she wore out quickly, and now she’s asleep. And Alice is asleep, too. I am having a beer.
What amazes me about all of this is that, while unpleasant, this whole situation didn’t gross me or Jerry out. I shampooed the carpet in my car today, the back of my seat, Helen’s carseat, and the washed out the diaper bag. She threw up on me no fewer than 20 times since this time last night. And I just held her, cleaned her off, and tried what I could to make her feel better.
I earned my Mommy title today, and Jerry earned his Daddy title (and his yellow belt!).