School break didn't go exactly as planned in our household. Visions of days spent snowboarding and tubing, frolicking happily in the abundant snow, hot chocolate breaks and other similarly lofty expectations fizzled early on in the week when Jack (2 years old) started throwing up. EVERYWHERE. I froze when Finn shouted from the family room that Jack had thrown up. Immediately my stomach bug denial mechanism kicked in. Maybe he just got a piece of pancake down the wrong pipe? Maybe he coughed too hard? Maybe Finn was hallucinating and simply thought he saw Jack throw up but in fact Jack is totally fine? Anything but the stomach bug two days into February break. But no. It was true. And it was disgusting.
But, I quickly went into clean up mode, I grabbed the paper towels and the disinfectant wipes from the kitchen on my way from the kitchen and got down to work mopping up toddler vomit from the floor. The really not easy part? Already being extremely nauseous from being pregnant. But what was my other option? To leave vomit on the floor with three kids and two dogs free ranging throughout the house? Not an option. You simply must suck it up and just parent.
Sometimes it's easy enough. The kids pukes? Clean it. Cut their finger? Neosporin it and slap a Spiderman bandaid on it. Other times, you're not so sure. Like the other morning when the stomach bug went south on Jack and his diaper seemingly exploded due to maximum capacity. It was all over his crib, all over his wall, and all over him, due to the fact that he decided it was an okay idea to stick his hands into said diaper and create some form of absolutely revolting abstract finger paint art the likes of which I hope to never see again. "Mess! Mess!" he cried, (almost happily I might add) from his crib that morning, and before I opened the door I remember cocking my head to the side and thinking to myself, "Whatever does the child mean by that?". And then I saw it in it's full horror. And I stood there for a few moments before reacting, all thoughts of a hot cup of coffee waiting for me downstairs and a nice quiet morning slipping away rapidly as I really could not even gather what to do first. Should I just put him fully clothed into the bath and go from there? No. That wouldn't work. I needed to get that diaper off, but how? It was bad. It was very bad. And I do not exaggerate when I say that I really, truly was at first unsure of how to go from that huge giant mess to a clean happy baby. Closing the door again and hoping someone else would fix that problem wasn't an option, so I had no choice but to hold my nose and get to work.
I won't get further into details, but it involved a lot of me shouting "OH MY GOD" with my eyes closed and finished with his pajamas just being thrown out for good. All the while though, I remember thinking about how you NEVER expect the vomit/exploded diaper/grossness aspect to be part of parenting when you first think about it. Run of the mill dirty diapers, sure, but cleaning up vomit and other equally as stomach turning things? That's something you don't think about. There needs to be a chapter in "What to Expect When You're Expecting" entitled "Disgusting Blow Out Diapers and the Stomach Flu". Sure, it might be a little premature in a book about pregnancy, but I still think it's best to be prepared. You know what, let's go even further and add that to the Sex Ed classes in high school. Just for good measure.
After Jack got sick and before the week was out both Finn and Levy (and myself) would succumb to the stomach bug. Meetings were cancelled, work was put off, and sadly most of our vacation was spent inside laying around on couches like limp rags. Sean mercifully did not get sick and did an amazing job taking care of all of us and I am so grateful for his help. Once I was upright again though there is no rest for the weary, you need to get right back into the mix, and it was a SLOG. Let me tell you.
For those of you that have been through it recently too, you know the incredible, foul smelling, gag reflex testing chore that is getting over the stomach bug. SO MANY loads of laundry, the silent prayer you say in your head in the middle of the night that they only threw up on the bed and not on the carpet (so much easier to clean), and then the aftermath cleaning frenzy as you only hope to exorcise yourself and your house of the vile demon that is the stomach bug. And then, one day, your kids wake up chipper and happy and capable of keeping solid food where it belongs and maybe you even get to send them refreshed and pink cheeked off to school again like the stomach flu never existed.
When that moment comes, take a little parenting victory lap. Add the "Stomach Flu" merit badge to your Parenting Scouts sash. Maybe that includes something big like treating yourself or just a little bit of the ol' patting yourself on the back, but you've earned it. Job well done.
Because you know what? More often than not, you won't have someone tell you you're doing a good job as a mom. There's no performance review, there's no opportunity for a raise, there are no promotions. Sometimes you've got to be your own cheerleader, and when you do, OWN that. That stomach flu? YOU KILLED IT. Middle of the night bed wetting transition? You handled that LIKE A BOSS. And keep that confidence up, because even though you will never get a promotion as a parent, the job keeps getting tougher.
People give "braggy moms" a lot of flak sometimes, but me? I say relish it. Relish it when you accomplish something. Recognize when you've gotten through something tough. It may all be part of the job of parenting, but no one ever said it HAD to be a thankless job. Take a minute to show some of that support to other moms you know too. We all know that a simple compliment like "Wow your kids are so well behaved" goes a loooooong way, so pay that feeling forward whenever possible.
As for me? I'm going to take my own victory lap around my now puke-free living room. The Rocky theme may or may not be playing in my head as a bask in a job well done.