This week was gonna be awesome. On Tuesday, I was going to finally get to meet Carla Naumburg, my Internet buddy, and would have a girl’s lunch in New York with Deborah Kolben, Carla and Baby G. And then, on Thursday night, I’d go to Mayim Bialik’s red carpet book party bash.
Making these plans with abandon, however, belied the fundamental doctrine of parenthood: You Can Never Plan Anything. Ever.
Okay, that’s a little much. But this past week has really reminded me about how the vagaries of kids can really throw things like “plans” for a loop.
Sunday. My husband and I take Baby G to our friend’s engagement party. Despite being a veritable snot factory, she is nice and social and smiley, letting herself be carried around by acquaintances and chatting up a storm. She is happy and friendly, right up to the point when she projectile vomits all over me, herself and my friend’s couch. Two out of those three things are fixable (unlike baby G, I do not tend to bring a change of clothes with me wherever I go).
MONDAY. Boys return from their father’s house. Z’s cheeks look pink and he seems a little out of it, but has no temperature. I send both boys off to school. As the day progresses, Baby G looks worse and worse. Though she still tries to smile and act chipper, she has no appetite to speak of and keeps doing that move mothers dread seeing in their infant: the hitting of the ear. I make an appointment with the pediatrician for 2 pm as I drive to school to drop off the boys lunches, which they have forgotten.
Around noon, I get a call from the school nurse. They tell me Z has Coxsackie virus. He has a fever and his gums and mouth are swollen and sore. I go to the school and pick up both Z and his uneaten lunch. I call the doctor and tell him Z will be crashing G’s appointment.
Yes, the doctor confirms when we go in, Z has Coxsackie and G has an ear infection. But, he warns, don’t let them near each other, because G will give Z her terrible cold and Z will give G his “I can’t eat anything” disease. Basically, this diagnosis means that I will actually have to have surgery to get eyes installed in the back of my head, as they adore each other and touch each other non-stop. Oh, and R can’t go near either of them since he could get either disease, or both. I ask if with the prescription for G, I can get a taser, because there is no way I can keep R away from either G or Z without it. They think I’m joking.
TUESDAY. I drop off R at school with G and Z sitting glassy-eyed in the car. Z and G spend the morning in various states of lethargy and whining, sprawled on couches and car seats. After Z sees way too much X Men installments, I make him read aloud to me so that the day is not a complete waste in terms of education. In the meantime, my earache in my right ear feels like someone has taken the side of my head in an iron claw and is testing how tightly they can grip. I call my doctor. No appointments till tomorrow. I take it.
The day passes slowly. There is ample moaning. It is clear that G also is teething. She is not happy about this. I think of all the work I am not getting done and my stomach gets in knots like those in my head. I cuddle the sickies as much as possible with love and pity. Early bedtime for all.
WEDNESDAY. With Z fever-free for 24 hours, he can go to school. My heart leaps up as I will not have to take two children to the ear doctor. I go to the ear doctor for myself. He tells me I have a clogged Eustachian tube and that it will “eventually” go away. I try to pin him down on “eventually.” He tells me between a few days and a few weeks. I find this unhelpful.
I check Facebook. People are posting about how great the weather is and how awesome spring is and how happy they are. They are all frolicking outside, out drinking margaritas and apple martinis at sidewalk cafes. I feel that deep, bitter anger that can only come from a mixture of sleeplessness, irrationality, and hormonal bitchiness.
Normally we bake our own hamantaschen for mishloach manot for Purim. I decide that this year it would be tantamount to waging biological warfare on friends and family. I take the boys to their father’s house for their weekly overnight, where they will go to the megillah reading. I opt to crash on my couch.
THURSDAY. Another beautiful day, and I get to experience all of it. I wake up at the crack of dawn, even before G, to say goodbye to my husband, who is off on a suspiciously well-timed business trip. As the door shuts behind him, I get a text from my ex-husband informing me that Z has been vomiting all night: “No way should he go to school today.” In what I believe constitutes a tremendous display of maturity, I refrain from throwing the phone at the wall.
G wakes up. I take her to my bed to cuddle her. She smiles and says adorable things in baby talk. She leans over my face as if to give me a kiss. Then she projectile vomits all over me and my bed. And here I thought she liked me.
An hour later, Z staggers into the house looking pale. R on the other hand comes in bouncing off the walls: “Mommy! I’m still healthy! Isn’t that awesome! Z is getting worse but I am TOTALLY FINE!!!” I pack that kid off to school at the speed of light.
I call the doctor’s office. Again. They tell me that it sounds like Z now has the stomach virus that’s going around. Has this kid not suffered enough? “Oh, and keep him away from your other kids. It’s a 24 hour thing, he’ll be able to go back to school tomorrow provided that he doesn’t throw up anymore,” she says with at least a touch of sympathy. Here’s the thing about me: I hate vomit. I particularly hate vomit when I am the only parent in the house. Fortunately, no more vomit occurs, despite me being in fear of it all day. Did my own mother fear vomit? I think she was more mature than I am. At least Z usually hits the toilet.
G whines all day. ALL DAY. I’m not sure if it’s her endless boogers, her teeth or her ear that is bothering her. In any event, it is excruciating. She also keeps looking around for her father, her head swiveling, saying “Daddadadadadadadada?” No, I tell her over and over, he’s not here, she’s stuck with me.
And then, all of a sudden, mid-afternoon, for the first time, G looks at me and says, “Mamamamamamamama?” I hug her and suddenly life blossoms into a slow-motion love montage in which I imagine skipping through flower-filled fields, not a booger in sight for miles.
Every single one of these kids is packed into their respective beds/cribs by 7:15. When complaints are made that this is an inordinately early bedtime for kids in elementary school, I tell them that it is only with sleep that they will get (or in R’s case, stay) good and healthy. I hope it is true.
FRIDAY. No vomit! Back to school! My mother in an act of prescience has invited me to her house for Shabbat dinner. I plan on collapsing like a rag doll on her floor and not getting up for a week. I look forward to Shabbat peace and health for everyone.
Next week is gonna be AWESOME.