Defeat Looks Like Acceptance This Morning

Sunday, February 17, 2019

It’s 8:00am, Sunday morning. Joe is out of town. Noah and Lucy are still sleeping, Quinn and Larkin are watching cartoons. 

Last night, after nearly a full week of managing Lucy’s second round with a tummy bug in under four weeks, Larkin stood in the kitchen and began heaving the contents of her tummy all over the floor. She’d also already had a turn with the stomach flu in the last four weeks, making her my second kid to have a second wave. 

After already having a challenging week coping with the reality of constantly sick kids, feeling sorry for myself and in the throes of winter despair, last night undid me. I slid into total defeat. My “sorry for myself” amplified to soul-splitting levels as I mopped up the floor and scrubbed the puke bowl clean for the millionth time. 

And then? I gave up. I finally gave up. That tense feeling of waiting and wishing it was different— the anger that this was happening...the self-pity—- it faded into background noise as I confronted the very real and immediate issue of how to handle a 2-year-old pukebomb who could go off at any time, wherever she might be. And we all know that 2-year olds don’t hit the bowl without help. I kicked into pure survival mode and prepped the couch for her to watch a cartoon (sheet-covered, old towels under that and around the floor, a bench with her puke bowl and a little bit of water for sipping). I then marched upstairs and prepped her bedroom for potential battle: mattress covered in towels, towels on the floor, extra toys removed (but lovey and fave blanket remained, because sick babies deserve comfort, even when the thought of things getting puked on makes me cringe hard). 

For the first time (I’m sheepish to admit it took this long), I finally LEANED IN. Rolled up my sleeves and accepted that this is my life. This, right this minute, is my life. It is what it is. I cannot change that Joe is out of town and snow is on the ground outside and two of my four kids are actively contagious with vomit germs. I am here and I cannot wish it away. And so I just leaned in. My peripheral vision narrowed until all I could see what what needed to be done right then to make my girls comfortable and to make any potential cleanup as easy as possible. My job wasn’t to wish we were back in those nostalgic days where no one was sick and the trees had leaves on them and all of us liked being outside and healthy. My job was to just HANDLE IT, whatever “it” turned out to be.

And it was okay. Not great: Larkin did in fact vomit again, at midnight, in her crib. But I was watching the monitor and heard a tell-tale cough before it began and was fast enough to make it to her room to hold her over the bowl. And it was a teeny amount. And she was calm and ready to lay right back down to try to sleep again. 

I didn’t get enough sleep: every time Lucy stirred, I worried she was going to have a repeat of yesterday morning where she kept leaning over her bowl with the urge to vomit, not sleeping... just waiting. And in fact, at 5:45 I woke to the adrenaline-inducing sound of her heaving into her bowl, as I’d worried about. After nearly 24 hours not puking— even eating a normal dinner— she had a lot to put into her bowl, and I had another gross clean-up/scrub to do. So tired. 

But it was okay. I handled the night and we’re all okay and any mess was mostly contained. 

And even though today is only day 2 of Joe’s 4-day absence, and even though two of my four are actively still in the 24-post puke window of potential contagion (and probably more than that... we’re probably just totally diseased and contagious on every surface of our own persons and this whole house. I can’t freak out about it anymore. ACCEPTANCE.)... even though this is not how I wanted my life to look right now (I fantasize about playing outside and about decluttering projects and about sewing summer dresses for the girls and about open windows and laying on quilts outside in the shade reading books) I am here. I’ve accepted that this is what life is today. Puke bowls and old towels and staying home from church and needing a shower and watching too many cartoons. 

And in honor of this feeling of defeat/acceptance this morning, I have some candles lit for “hygge”. The cute little diffuser is wafting out comforting essential oils. My Valentine tulips from Joe are bringing a piece of Spring to my house. There’s a bottle of Vitamin D supplements right there next to the flowers— I’ve only been taking them for 2 days, but I think they’re helping— and I’m listening to piano music on Alexa as I do a tiny bit of cross-stitching. Larkin and Quinn are watching (too many) cartoons and Lucy and Noah are still sleeping and we probably have more vomit ahead... but this is my life. I give up. And in giving up, I actually feel looser, lighter, and better. Sometimes maybe being defeated simply means we release our stubborn will and wishing, and only then can we soften enough to accept and let go. 

(Now, to try to keep this state of mind until my partner in crime returns.)
(I wish it didn’t take my stubborn heart so long to learn lessons. And then forget them and have to learn them again. And again.)
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