On the plus side: I'm fairly certain that only 50 people saw him throw up, and the button down shirt my husband was wearing was perfect for mopping it up (this sounds STRANGELY reminiscent of the time he cleaned the bathroom with his underwear). Thank GOD for absorb-able cotton! This is precisely the sort of thing that would have RUINED me--but as previously established (link HERE), I went through a phase of very public vomiting between the years of 1994-1998, and it has prepared me well for parenthood.
I thought that Big J looked a little *off* this morning, and not just because he struggles with clothing and often wears things upside down and backward. It was quickly obvious that something was up, but after prodding him verbally, he became slightly embarrassed and tried to play it cool, which coincidentally, happens to look a lot like sickness. He ate his breakfast, there was no fever, no runny nose--just an instinct--and so we decided to head to church and keep him with us, rather than send him into a Sunday school classroom full of children. Friends, if we stayed home for every *suspected* threat of illness, we would be hermits--and our kids are RARELY sick, so trust me when I say we are JUST LIKE Homeland Security, except that sometimes, a kid will vomit publicly, to the soundtrack of contemporary church music.
You know how when you were a kid and you threw up at school, it was SOOOOOO embarrassing? It's WORSE when you are a parent, because there is a lot of guilt about exposing people to germs, and being "out-ed" as a mom who OBVIOUSLY ate peanut butter when she was pregnant and serves her kids high-fructose corn syrup and McDonald's happy meals (how else to explain it?). I mean, we have this talent for making it all about our imperfections, and that is that kind of bull that will get you talked into calve implants, if you're not careful.
There was a time, when vomit TERRIFIED me--and back in the days of having only one child, the thought of any kind of child-related sickness was enough to send me into a tissy, because my happy reality felt so. very. thin. As if we were a teaspoon's worth of mucus or a meal's worth of regurgitated milk from NEVER SLEEPING EVER AGAIN. Honestly, it took me YEARS to be able to let G go to bed without eating a full dinner, because my greatest fear was that she would wake up at 2 a.m out of hunger, and I could never let that happen. As all new mothers know, you have a baby, you forfeit daily showers, you begin to shop ONLY at Target--and you instantly structure your entire life/bedroom arrangement/sound machine/curtain selection/mail delivery/lighting scheme to insure that your child will remain ASLEEP. I mean, you love the little beasts, but you want them to remain UNCONSCIOUS, right? And when you have really little kids, this all seems manageable. CONTROLLABLE, even. I mean, we ALL do it, ladies--we breastfeed, or we make organic baby food, or we put those covers on the grocery carts, or we take at least five layers off our skin with hand sanitizer, and we feel GOOD about it. Maybe your kid never gets an ear infection, or they are NEVER SICK EVER (just teething). And then they head off to preschool, or kindergarten--and you are inundated with information about head lice, and regaled with tales, on a daily basis, of how Timmy "threw up during circle time and it was red and I touched it", and you become convinced that library books are laced with ebola.
When Big J & L were mere infants, we were told that we needed to be especially careful with them; that their prematurity meant their immune systems were compromised. They came home in the summer, and we were given instructions NOT to have them around other kids. When we entered into the winter months, their lungs were considered so compromised, that they were given MONTHLY vaccinations for RSV--most people aren't even aware that exists, but it is given ONLY to kids with the highest risk factors because it costs (depending on the dose), upward of $800, PER SHOT, PER MONTH. Times two for the twins, and paid for, entirely by insurance (have I told you I LOVE insurance). To say that they were fragile is an understatement.
Ironically enough, having Big J and L, and surviving their prematurity is the thing that removed that proverbial, anal-mommy stick. If something went wrong, if they got sick--I was VERY confident that there was an entire hospital NICU and related physicians who would take great care of them. An entire staff of people who saved them from the brink of death, mind you, and there is an incredible confidence in that. But also, Mike and I have NEVER been the kind of people who sit contently at home without visitors--and so the period of quarantine that should have lasted through their first year and a half became more like two weeks before we started to twitch. At that point, it was still summer--and so we lugged those babies up to the pool, oxygen tanks and all. We did not let anyone touch their hands or lick their faces, or cough directly into their mouths, but we were out in the germ-filled world. I don't even remember when they caught their first cold, but it came and went without incident, or wheezing, or ventilators or extended hospital stays. We defied what EVERYONE told us and lived a normal life in the winter--eventually I had to take them to the grocery store in January and despite duct-taping their mouths shut, they managed to lick every inch of the shopping cart, which inadvertently exposed them to the kinds of colds and viruses that we ALL carry at some point. And you know what? I'm not PISSED about the fact that sometimes, there are sick kids that spread germs in public places--because we ALL DO IT. Our kids are always contagious before we see the actual signs, and we've all unintentionally spread it around the playground. PLEASE own that, and pay it forward with grace. We didn't invent the flu; it's an infectious disease-ridden world, and we're just living in it, friends.
Big J & L were at the top of the list of kids who should try to avoid the common cold. And guess what?
And they slept.
And they are some of the healthiest kids I know. Rarely sick, and the handful of times we've had the flu, it's lasted no more than 24-hours. NO signs of asthma, though we were practically diagnosed with it while still in the NICU. And I believe this has everything to do with the fact that we vaccinate with trips to the McDonald's Playland.
I'm asking ALL of us to please relax. Please see the bigger picture. Please see the woman holding the snotty kid, who is about to lose her freaking mind if she doesn't get out of the house and buy a gallon of milk and maybe a pack of smokes. She isn't trying to give you croup, she's trying to survive. Because, as I've come to learn amongst mommies--almost all of us are simply trying to survive. And we can help each other do it, or we can make snide comments, and scoot ourselves farther away, and un-subtly bathe our kids in hand sanitizer, and send daggers with our eyes. This doesn't mean that I am an advocate of bringing kids with fevers to public places, or ignoring vomit for a social commitment--PLEASE don't here me say that. I'm just saying that sometimes, a mother will bring a kid to church mere minutes before he blows, and she *probably* would have made a different choice in retrospect, but that this kind of stuff can happen, and doesn't mean she is a selfish douche.
Bring it ON, Monday. I am going to pack up a basement, do a crap load of laundry, *maybe* clean some puke, watch a few solid hours of cartoons and *try* to avoid public displays of vomit.