Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not the one you'd want to be in the lifeboat with.

I'm a panicker. I also am not keen on tight spaces. I'm not claustrophobic exactly, but I'm big on freedom, personal space and kicking off the day with a Starbucks yogurt parfait, which, by the way is starting to be about as addicting for me as a vanilla latte is for some. Anyway, last night I went to pick up Reese from school and she was sitting in the teacher's lap and I could tell from ten paces that she was sick. Once she saw me, she began to smile and walk toward me and then instantly burst into tears. That's what my people do. In my family, crying is a sure sign of sickness. When we're hurt, we yell and when we're sick, we cry. When we're angry, we smile and mutter things under our breath. Go figure. Anyway, there's Reese, a puddle in my arms and I'm carrying her to the car and envisioning the next few days of my life: lots of throw up, little sleep, trying to figure out who is going to take care of the kids and who is going to work, doing lots of laundry and lots of caretaking. Being housebound. For some reason, this last one is what truly freaks me out. It's not like I'm the big carouser, out till all hours. In fact, I'm pretty much in bed by ten every night; having a Blockbuster night would be a barn burner compared to our normal pattern of dinner, put the kids to bed, talk for a few and then lights out. It's just the knowing that I can't leave - that I have a sick, miserable little one who needs, more than Tylenol, tea or Ritz crackers, her mommy right now. RIGHT NOW. And for every single moment until she is feeling better and then will, in an instant, be off to play "Circle Time" or "Tea Party" or go ride her bike, leaving me in an exhausted, crusty heap, as though we hadn't just spent the last three days stitched at the hip. For sure, it's as reliable as the seasons: just as soon as you don't know how you will make through another round of sheet changing and washing and soothing, they're better. Just like that.

For now it's about being present and making toast and showing up. In a few days or years it will all be a distant memory and one day she will be throwing up in the bathroom and I won't even know it except I happen to pass by and I will ask if she needs anything and she will say, "No, thanks Mom." and I will know that I have my freedom and my space and that it is maybe a bit more space than I bargained for.

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