Danny woke one Friday morning complaining of a stomach ache, but with a little love, water and food he seemed OK. He didn’t eat as much at breakfast as he normally does, but he also didn’t appear super uncomfortable. We proceeded with our usual Friday routine and occasionally he mentioned that his belly ached. We finished singing at Tiempo Con Mis Amigos and then walked to Smaltimore for lunch. Danny rode his scooter all the way and not once complained.
We were seated, Danny talked and colored with his friends and eventually ordered his food. On this particular day, Smaltimore was slammed and they only had one employee working, so there was a lot more waiting on our end.
Despite the extra wait time, Danny appeared happy and his usual self. The food finally arrived and Danny immediately dug in, but stopped eating before finishing his plate which is really unusual for him. He is often a member of the clean plate club and polishes off a course with dessert. I knew that he had been having belly aches off and on so I didn’t force him to eat and I asked if he was OK. He said yes and continued talking to friends.
A few minutes later, he told me his belly hurt and I asked if he needed to use the bathroom and he said no. I asked if he wanted anything and he said no and then left it at that.
A few minutes passed and all of a sudden he moved toward me and said, “Mama, my mouth hurts!” and grimaced as if in pain. I asked if he bit his tongue or cheek and he said no, so I said, “What happened? What’s wrong? Come here let me check.” Again, he said his mouth hurt then he climbed into my lap.
As I took him in my arms to check his mouth and teeth, vomit shot out and covered me from chest to toe! My fellow moms quickly jumped to their feet to help. When my poor child finished puking, my friends said, “Go, we got this. Go home.” Tears swelled because I felt so bad for my kid and was upset that I didn’t realize he was truly sick.
I grabbed Danny and Lucas and headed out the door. I immediately cleaned and changed Danny then strapped the boys in the stroller. It was then that I realized: I walked here. I carry a change of clothes for the boys, but not for myself. Great, I had to walk a mile covered in puke.
The walk home felt like a walk of shame, only worse. With the slightest turn of my head in either direction, the stench of Danny’s illness wafted into my nose and dared my super high gag reflex to take action. Thankfully, it never did. We made it home and I immediately washed all of our clothes and shoes, bathed everyone, read stories to the boys and then laid them down for their nap. After closing their bedroom doors, I returned downstairs and added a set of spare clothes for myself to our daypack.
We cater to our children all day, every day. Our lives take a backseat and our children are the only thing we think about, especially as a stay-at-home parent. Even when I’m out with friends or chatting in the presence of children, the conversation ultimately lands on children. I love my little guys and I’m sure all of my friends who are parents love their kids too, but our children cannot take care of us like we take care of them.
We too need the love, attention and care that we so meticulously and relentlessly give them. As parents, I find that we have to take care of each other and ourselves. We are each other’s sounding boards, standards and saviors. At least that’s how I feel about my community of moms and neighbors.
There are even times though when I can’t be around anyone. I need time for me and sometimes I just sit in peace and do nothing. It’s OK to do that. We all need time to sit, breathe and decompress without the soundtrack of our daily lives or without little fingers or other bodies touching us.
I’m not sure what other mamas or papas are doing to take care of themselves, but I recently established my favorite self-care habits. Late at night, but not nightly, I enjoy a Lush face mask. I also love walking alone even if it’s just on the first floor of my home — 10,000 steps a day is making a difference with this mama.
I LOVE, love, love attending water fitness classes at the Waverly Y. I’m the youngest person by at least thirty years, but that 9 a.m. crew makes me smile and feel welcomed. Lastly, I reflect daily with my wife and we share our highs, lows and gratitude of the day. I have to admit that all of this takes effort and time and not only on my part, but it has certainly helped me feel better.
If I can love and care for myself, then I am more easily able to love and care for others, especially my boys.