My mother warned me there’d be days like this—days during which I’d rather swallow a cheese grater than raise children. Times when I’d seriously toy with the notion of running away from it all, forsaking those who depend on me to scrub grass stains, to scribble sappy little lunchbox notes and to be the voice of reason for my woman-child/co-ed. There would be an abundance of woeful moments, too (she assured me), when I’d bury my miserable self in the deepest, darkest recesses of a closet in hopes that no one, least of all my needy charges, would ever find me in such a sorry state—desperately clinging to my last marble.
Those unbearable chunks of ugliness, Mom promised, would be sandwiched in-between chapters of sheer joy and passages of tolerable madness—but they’d be there just the same. Shame on me for not believing her.
I had to actually visit the horribleness (as well as the pleasure) myself in order to be convinced of its existence. Like so many things in life, the highs and lows of parenthood cannot be experienced vicariously. They must be lived—for better or for worse. Tuesday, the 26th qualified as “for worse” for me. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day—in a hurling-profusely-into-big-buckets sort of way. I have no doubt that Judith Viorst, of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day fame, would be proud of me for painting the picture so vividly.
That being said, every joint, muscle and square inch of skin ached with unprecedented intensity. Every solitary strand of hair pulsated with pain and my head felt as though it would explode (which might have been an improvement in retrospect). Even my teeth hurt. For what seemed an eternity, tsunami-sized waves of nausea crashed over me unrelentingly. At one point, I distinctly recall wanting to be put out of my misery. Like a horse with a bad leg. “Just shoot me already!” I groused to no one. Because, of course, no one else was lying on the bathroom floor at 3 a.m. in a pool of self-pity gazing at the underbelly of the loo and wondering when the urge to retch would strike again. If nothing else, having such a vantage point reminded me that my bathroom needed cleaning. Desperately.
Not surprisingly, such a ludicrous thought made me chortle—despite having reached the absolute depths of despair. There I was, seized unspeakably with an ailment that can only be characterized as evil and nestled in what I believed to be abject squalor. But like a fool, I was SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATING THE POSSIBILITY OF CLEANING MY BATHROOM. How absurd is that?! I rarely allow such frivolities to enter my mind on a good day, let alone one in which I’d been hit by a bus.
What made matters worse (and what could be more vile than bowing to the porcelain god—again and again and again?!) was that one of my brood was stricken a mere ten hours later—in the very same hurling-profusely-into-big-buckets sort of way. Blarrrrg!
As a parent, I felt dreadfully inept—dragging my sickly body to and fro in an effort to aid this smallish child of mine. My paltry offerings were limited to reassuring her that EVENTUALLY this horrid malady would go away and find someone else to torment. I then bestowed upon her a pail and advised her never to let it leave her side—even as she slept (i.e. tossed and turned and groaned and moaned roughly 637 times) in my bed. (Indeed, I had found a surefire way to add drama and excitement to the bedroom…will she, or won’t she hit the bucket/make it to the bathroom in time?)
And to illustrate, once again, that bizarreness knows no bounds, the event itself became a twisted sort of competition—between and among those who spewed forth with wild abandon. “Mom, I beat you! I threw up 22 times and you only did it 5 times!”
Yes, we counted.
What’s more, the wretched affair had become a bit of a spectacle to the non-vomiting child in the household. “Let me see! Let me see! Oh, that’s really GROSS!” Clearly, the circus had come to town—complete with freakish sideshows and crowd-pleasing performances. Had I possessed an ounce of strength, I could have choked a certain member of the peanut gallery—or at the very least, I could have planted the seed in her mind that she, too, would soon be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in a hurling-profusely-into-big-buckets sort of way. Needless to say, I wanted nothing more at that moment than to desert my post. Indefinitely.
Mom was right. There would be days like this.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel