Kids and barf and the unexpected strengths of parenting…

I am not a nurse by trade. Neither am I in any of the professions that might commonly come into contact with things being expelled from bodies. I deal in the world of ideas, theory, books and paper, that is what I do. I have a deep respect for people who are care givers, who clean up the mess the rest of us leave, who tend to us when we are unwell and not at our tidiest. But I am also a parent and so there are times when I have to reach beyond the comfort of what I have chosen to do into the world of what needs to be done. That’s what being a parent means.

Like with much of parenting you get the shock and awe experience so that you react with instinct rather than thought. You have a baby and are truly awed, you are shocked by the tiny human that is now a part of your life, and you are thoroughly exhausted so your brain can’t work to tell you that you are doing things that actually are gross. Instinct takes over, the tiny baby needs care, you provide care. And at first the diapers are not gross, the spit up is not stinky, there is a gradual progression that acts on your psyche slowly and you don’t notice the change. You are the frog and the water feels just fine.

This routine continues for years and you roll along and then one day at work perhaps you notice that it is a little gross that your have mashed whatever on your slacks, and you notice that smell that before you just responded to. It is about this time that the child starts to outgrow these things, just when you think you can’t take anymore they start to not do it anymore. Not all of a sudden of course, but the shift happens and then you remember with some humor the trials and tribulations of diaper disasters and stomach flus. Aaaah you sigh, it is over, my baby is grown and no more will I have to do that (whatever that was).

Two nights ago my teen son had too much popcorn at the movie theatre. Then we went out to eat a fairly rich meal of tapas before heading home. He said he didn’t feel well but he also said he was really hungry, that is apparently what teenaged boys do. So he had toast and milk and tea and then went to bed where he said he didn’t feel well some more, and we said just lay there calmly and try to relax. All seemed well. In the morning he came into our room to announce that turns out he didn’t feel well but was also really tired so it would seem that it wasn’t just a dream that he threw up in the middle of the night he really did and by the way could we come clean up. It took forty five minutes with two adults and an assist from the offending teen. It was disgusting and I thought, as I was on my hands and knees mopping up the floor, this is what it is to be a mom.

These people come into the world and we would do anything for them, we do anything for them, regularly. When they don’t feel good we are there, when they need us we are there, when they cry we respond. We do this when it smells bad, when we are tired, when we are not in the mood because we love them. Some people say that love makes you weak and so they avoid it, but it isn’t true, love, real love makes you stronger than you could ever imagine.

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