It replays in my head over and over again like those America’s Funniest Home Video montages when they rewind the guy getting kicked in the nuts OOF! and let’s see it again OOF! and let’s see it again OOF!
Except in this case it was a kid projectile vomiting, wailing, vomiting, wailing, the room in suspended animation as everyone stood there, stunned for the world’s longest split second, gaping at the digestive carnage. Barf splattered on the table, on the floor. The daycare workers leap into action, grabbing a garbage can, donning rubber gloves, insisting that it’s because he’d been crying about wanting his mother, and not flu, or parasite, or bubonic plague. But as I leave I turn back to see him bent over the bucket, poor thing, just barely tall enough to get his head over the lip of the black plastic, and I wonder just how much half-digested food a stomach can hold and think yep, that’s it. ‘Bile’ is my least favourite word.
Meanwhile Evan is collapsed in a heap on a lego mat crying mama, mama, I don’t wanna. Hands full, the kind souls at playschool were unable to peel him off me as per usual. I’m tired this morning, hell warmed-over, dismayed at some new distinctly Three-ish behaviour.
I SMACK you on the head! he’d said as I lifted him from the carseat, dropping to the floor to flail as he does—as any of them do—over the wrong combination of bad nap + missed snack + broken cracker and/or wrong underpants and/or unwanted hummus.
Thank the stars today is playschool day I hissed under my breath as we'd rolled into the parking lot, tapped and selfish and just plain done. Relishing the ability to leave him there and drive away, go home with just the one baby, simple, easily placated.
Carrying him under one arm like a sack of potatoes, we enter the room just in time to witness the spewing. I deposit him in the opposite corner, snap at him to let go, to stand up, to be anything but the worst possible combination of Raggedy Andy and Mad Cow. His cries fade as I walk up the stairs. Unfortunately the retching does not.
Walking away feeling the most intense cocktail of appreciation, guilt, relief, revulsion. Thinking how can anyone stay at home with a toddler without a couple of days a week to decompress? at the same time as I can't believe I'm walking away. Just tired, so tired. Working late at night, and just writing to let off steam, not seeing enough of Justin, feeling like a terrible wife. Only hurculean self-control keeps me from writhing and kicking on the floor over broken hormones or the wrong number of pounds or unwelcome saddlebags.
Lusting for playschool days, for sanity. Knowing he loves it there, really and truly. When it’s time to go home he has to be peeled away in just the same fashion, hands full of crafts and artwork and new songs and stories.
As I pull away, Ben snoring in the backseat, Liam finds me as he always does, forever perfect, forever unblemished by stink and tantrum. Don’t be stupid, says the voice. Ben will drive you nuts sometimes, and Liam would have too. How would you have coped? You would have been a snapping, snarling mama. Maybe even still, just with two.
I cried all the way home.
When there are mamas out there who went home from the hospital empty-handed, I feel obnoxious to vent about what’s ordinary. The rage at losing Liam is distracted by the blessing of Ben. Standing next to those women I am grief-lite. I am a twit, unhinged by barf and daycare. I’m sorry about that.