A few weeks ago, Shawn and Grady went on a road trip, off the grid, totally unreachable and hours from home. A few hours after they left, Poppy woke up from her nap, miserable, and proceeded to vomit for 22 hours. It was about two-o-clock in the morning when I realized that every towel, sheet, and pair of pyjamas we owned was either in the washing machine or piled in a stinky, wet heap in front of the washing machine. I dug through my closet and found the box of old receiving blankets my heart isn’t ready to donate yet, wrapped her up like a newborn, and sat on my stripped bed and held her until the sun came up.
It was terrible. It was heartbreaking to see her so sick. It was frustrating to have her push the bucket away only to vomit directly into my hands seconds later. I was so tired and so scared and so by myself, the only grownup, the holder of the bucket and the wiper of the fevered brow.
In the wee hours of the morning, holding Poppy as she shivered with the chills even as heat radiated from her tiny body, I was reminded of having the stomach flu when I was a kid.
My dad lived in Germany for a bit, when I was about ten. My siblings would have been 13, 6, and 4 or thereabouts. That winter we all came down with a nasty stomach bug and my mom piled us into the big bed so she could hold buckets and dispense Tylenol and comfort more efficiently. In between vomit sessions, my mom tried to catch some sleep on the floor beside us in a sleeping bag.
In the middle of the night, as my mom crawled into the sleeping bag to try to catch a quick nap, she pulled on the zipper and the wire zipperpull went straight into her finger and got stuck. She couldn’t get the zipperpull out of her finger. She couldn’t get the zipperpull off the sleeping bag. She had four sick kids to take care of and a sleeping bag attached to her hand.
Anyone who has met my mom thinks she is: kind, pleasant, sweet, caring, maternal, etc. But what isn’t glaringly obvious to the casual observer is that my mom is a hardcore badass (which makes it even more badass, right? She’s stealth badass!) My mom is sensitive and empathetic and motherly but she has nerves of steel. She called our next door neighbours and one came over to look after us while the other stayed with their two young kids, and then she drove herself to the hospital with a sleeping bag attached to her hand. Hardcore. Badass.
She walked into the emergency room holding the sleeping bag still attached to her hand and apparently caused quite a stir because people thought she was either holding a sick child or a bomb. The doctors and nurses took care of her, removed the zipperpull from her finger, and she was home before any of us were even aware something had gone awry.
My wild night of one sick child and zero puncture wounds pales in comparison to my mom’s but it made me appreciate just how badass she was and continues to be. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you bunches.