Last week I was house-bound with two sick kids while Paul was out of town. Both kids had nasty colds, and for Josie that means asthma. The inhalers stopped working and for six days she was on steroids. Go ahead and form a mental picture of Josie on steroids.
One afternoon, I think it was Thursday, I spent 90 minutes in a very small doctor’s office with both kids. K is 18 months old, into everything including the doctor’s cabinets and drawers that were not locked or baby proofed, and he was completely uninterested in the television shows I had on my i-phone for this exact situation.
After the doctor’s office, we went to the pharmacy to get more steroids. The prescription did not have the proper dosage so after much back-and-forth and fussing and delay, we finally got the prescription filled and left 45 minutes after we arrived. By then the kids were tired and hungry and sick. Did I mention they were sick? Sure, sure I did.
I went right to a kid-friendly restaurant to get them fed as quickly as possible. Of course, Josie insisted on filling her own glass at the water fountain and filled it right to the top. Back at the table, she dumped it all down the front of her shirt. As I reached into the diaper bag to get her spare shirt I remembered that I didn’t have a spare for her because I had used that shirt to clean up the vomit she projected all over the inside of my car that morning while I was sprinting to the store in a desperate attempt to acquire more supplies. We didn’t make it to the store that morning and I hadn’t replaced the shirt. So, right there, in the middle of the restaurant, I changed Josie into an old pair of her leggings and her brother’s too-small shirt. Fine. Good enough. Moving on.
We made it home a half-hour after bedtime. I took K right into his room to put him to bed as Josie stood outside his door and sobbed. I’d given K his bottle and was bouncing all 35 lbs of him to sleep when he cough-burped and vomited all over my back and the floor. Did all that really just happen?
The next day when I was talking to my mom, she was expressing her sympathy and said how awful that sounded and by then I was like, yeah, it was really no big deal. I was putting one foot in front of the other, making it happen.
This week we are house-bound again this time due to the snow. Paul is working from the basement office while I sled, build snowmen, shovel the driveway, make kale rice, roasted parsnips and steak for dinner and do the laundry. It’s satisfying and exhausting. I am at my maximum parenting speed. I can do no more and no better. By the end of the day, my parenting skills are completely used up. And, I know these are days I will remember fondly and miss when they are grown and gone. But, I have to say that I have not exactly enjoyed every moment of the last two weeks and I feel guilty about that. I do.
When I read “Don’t Carpe Diem” this last night, the timing was perfect. This is my favorite part:
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers — “ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T!” TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!” — those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now, if you’re one of those well-meaning cheerleaders feeling guilty for trying to be friendly, don’t. This isn’t about you. I know someday I will be thinking the same thing and the next time my 90 year old grandmother comes over and says exactly what is written in all caps above, I will grit my teeth and smile and say that I do, that I am enjoying every minute. This is about giving myself a break and not feeling guilty that some days, okay, most days, I’m dreaming fondly of a time when K will watch television, telling the teenage neighbor that I will pay her ANY amount she requires if she will come and play with my kids, and counting the minutes until bedtime.