I was not a good mother today.
I was a good mother yesterday. And most of the day before that. But not today.
I started out the week just like any other, like Mary Poppins, listening for the morning birds singing and clinking my coffee cup with the sunrise and the cheer and the hope of a fresh, new day.
I was going to be flying solo all week while my husband was out of town on a work trip. I knew this in advance and prepped mentally to pour out loving grace onto every human being that crossed my path for the next seven days.
And for the first few days it was fine. And then the puking rally began.
First it hit my 8-year-old, who was thankfully able to make it to the bathroom in time, requiring little cleanup. I kept him home from school the next day and made sure he avoided any and all physical contact with the toddler, praying it wasn’t too late.
And then the next night at 3 AM (because what child doesn’t wake up unless it’s 3 AM), the toddler sat up in bed — crying — and I knew it was coming. I took every precaution possible to prevent it, but sure enough, the stomach virus landed right on his face.
I spent the whole night catching projectile vomit into bath towels (because he’s scared to aim into a toilet or a trash can), and changing clothes and bedding. The washing machine suddenly became my most prized possession — worth its weight in gold.
I kept a good attitude, gave big snuggles, and didn’t complain. I offered gentle, loving comfort and reassured him that getting sick is scary, but it’s good because we want the sickness to leave our bodies so we can heal.
I was a good mom that day. But not today.
The stomach virus caught me, but I was not afforded the luxury of the sickness leaving my body. I had feverish chills and a bad headache. I was hot one second and cold the next, but my nausea remained the stomach-churning constant in it all. Blanket off, blanket on — there was little comfort.
The kids were recovered by this time, so I let them watch TV and get their own snacks. I laid on the playroom floor wrapped up in a comforter and did all of my parenting for the day from my makeshift sleeping bag.
The sink was full of dishes, overflowing to the counter. There were toys all over the living room floor around me. In my achy weakness, I cleared out a little spot on the floor enough to lay down my blanket.
My toddler’s first impulse was to jump on me, but I hollered at him not to dare. They argued over toys and I yelled at them to get it together. My oldest kept asking if he could play video games and watch shows on Netflix, and for 18 different snacks.
My toddler does this thing where he will ask me for some milk, and then immediately repeat the same question 10 times in a row. I got up and got him a cup of milk, but I made sure to grumble about it.
He asked me for milk again, and I said no. He was instructed to get himself some water at the bathroom sink that he can reach with the step stool.
I got myself a wet washcloth and nuked it in the microwave for 20 seconds (just the right amount of time) for a hot compress over my eyes. I heard the rustling of another snack bag, but I didn’t care.
I could hear the video game music and the snapping of building blocks a few feet away from me, so I tried to get some rest. But my brain would not stop. I was annoyed that I was at home and not on a trip out of town. I resented not living close to family. I was worried that I had a slow freelance income the month before, and the childcare costs for summer were going to shoot up. I remembered that we were low on groceries, but I knew there was no way I could make it to the store.
The kids asked if they could go outside and jump on the trampoline, but I said no. There was no way I was up for the battle of “stay towards the middle, don’t bounce him so high.” They asked if they could get out the art stuff and I said no.
I snapped at them to stop asking me questions. They watched TV all day.
As it started to turn dark, I decided to sit up and put my glasses on to survey the damage. There were popcorn bits and kernels all over the floor, and more toys surrounding my little camping spot.
Then they started asking more questions about dinner. I yelled at them to clean up the popcorn.
I managed to get up and make them a few bowls of cereal and then I laid back down on the floor. They watched even more TV, and then I put them to bed early.
I tucked them in at record speed so I could go lay down in my own bed and get some sleep. Before I left my toddler’s room, he looked up at me with the best smile and said ,“I wuv you, Mommy!”
I stopped and gave him a big, long hug and said I loved him, too. The house was a disaster but it was probably a pretty good day in their eyes, since they had snack and creative freedom all day, despite my grumbles.
My oldest talked to me about a new level in his video game as per usual, and I tucked him in with a big hug and a weak smile, and then went to bed.
I love them, and they still love me. And while I was not a good mother today, we will all come back to fight through another day tomorrow.More On