Ever since Story was born, we’ve been very lucky with her health. She has been a robust and bright-eyed baby. Even on the rare occasions where she’s been under the weather, she’s remained essentially herself: chipper and sweet and up for anything. I remember a week when she was about five months old, all three of us had a cold, and we were dragging her all over the state of Iowa on an epic family vacation. Let’s just say that Story did a lot less whining about that cold than either Mark or I did. She remained sweetly, heartbreakingly cheerful.
No one could have expected this situation to last, and I didn’t. But, I didn’t really expect it to end so spectacularly either. For the last two weeks, Story has been sick. Not in a sweet, brave, sniffly sort of way, but more in a pukey, poopy, achy, fussy, lying listlessly on the floor kind of way. Just when I’d think she was out of the woods, her symptoms would recur. I don’t think of myself as a panicky parent, but the fact is that I took her to the doctor twice.
It’s funny, the mental revolutions you can go through depending on what’s going on in your life. Before Story was born, I went with a friend and his daughter to the park, and he told me that the secret to making sure she stayed warm enough was to wear a lighter jacket than she did, and keep his hands out of his pockets, so he’d notice if it got too cold. It was a brisk day, I hate being cold, and I thought, “I am not doing that.” But now I do it, and I think nothing of it.
Anyway, during these two weeks, I entered a state of just not giving a crap about puke.
On at least one occasion, there was definitely some in my hair. Not a lot, mind you, but any amount would of course necessitate an immediate shower under any other circumstances. But there was no shower to be had, because Story needed me to rock her for several hours, periodically getting up to walk her around the house when she became irritated with the rocking chair. And she needed me to force her sippy cup on her every twenty minutes, and to sing lullabies. And then when she was finally down for the night, I was just too tired to take a shower, so I actually went. To bed.
I hate to see Story sick, but sometimes I take a weird sort of satisfaction in the hard days. So many times I wonder if I am getting it right as a mom: Am I playing with her enough, even when there’s something interesting to read on the internet; am I taking her to enough places she wants to go instead of just wheeling her around Barnes and Noble for my own pleasure?
But when you’ve bathed your baby four times in one day, and foregone bathing yourself, and rocked and rocked until your tailbone can rock no more, you have to feel like something was done right. You feel like, I may not be Supermom. But no one could say I’m not trying.