About a week ago, I wandered into the kids’ room, running late as always, and told Annie it was time to wake up. She stretched and said, “Mommy, I think I threw up.” I looked from across the room and could see a thin line of what looked like dried puke, perhaps the size of a snail’s trail, near her head. Oh, I said in my most calm and reassuring voice, yes, maybe you did a tiny bit.
No biggee, I thought. I actually had seven hours of sleep last night. I can do anything. Maybe it’s so little I can even just spot clean it. (Don’t judge, you know you’ve been there.)
And then I got closer. Annie raised her head like a crazy Medusa born of Linda Blair and Sissy Spacek, and I saw. Oh God what I saw.
Vomit caked her face. It had created dreds in her hair. Vomit was dried on both her hands, leaving them as puckered and lifeless as if she’d been underwater for days. They hurt to move. Vomit had soaked through her pillow. It dropped on the ground as we went for the bathroom. It was everywhere. Everywhere. Her brothers started to gag. They were revolted. They panicked. The oldest started shouting something insane about Annie staying home from school on a day where I had rigged my conference calls so I could actually go workout. They lost it. But not I. No, not I.
I stayed calm, got her showered, threw the filthy pillow in the outside trash, rinsed the caked sheets in the toilet (the only place that could handle such huge chunks—again, don’t judge), got everything in the wash. And then I got everyone washed, fed and out the door for school in 30 minutes flat. We weren’t late. We chatted on the way there. If it wasn’t for the lingering odor of the excessive amount of pizza and chicken fingers Annie had consumed at Daisy Scouts still haunting the kids’ bathroom, no one would know anything had happened.
How did I accomplish this? And why am I so proud that I am still reveling in my speed a week later? Because I am a mother, damnit. And if there is one thing I have learned in the past ten years, it is how to deal with disgusting bodily fluids, gaping bodily holes, and a heck of a lot of blood.
Let’s be honest. How many times have you gone to the doctor’s office and thought, why am I paying them? I can diagnose this illness and treat it just as well at home. Hand over the Rx pad. I know what this kid needs. I can identify the difference between a Fifth Disease, yeast and Hand, Foot and Mouth rash. I can pop and drain an infected boil better than the nurse practitioner. I have relocated my son’s nursemaid’s elbow. I know when my kid has asthma and when he has croup. I can administer the field test you give to someone with a head injury. And no, I don’t need a thermometer to tell you if you have a fever. I have a mother’s hand.
I think you start preparing yourself for the atrocities of motherhood the first time you pee yourself pregnant. You are mortified, disgusted. But then you get used to it. You might even give it a whiff every now and again at around nine months just to make sure it’s not amniotic fluid. No big deal. Except it’s just one small step from there to the day you walk in and your baby has decorated herself and her walls with poop from her diaper.
Sometimes, after a particularly invigorating visit to the pediatrician, I start to fantasize about going back and getting my MD. My latest Grey’s Anatomy BuzzFeed quiz did in fact identify me as McDreamy.
But whenever I mention my new career plans to my husband he is unenthusiastic. He says I wouldn’t like all the hours away from the house. I think what he’s really saying is if I’m not there, who will be around to pick up all this shit….