The Creme de la creme… of parenting
That night when your whole bedtime routine goes tits up, because your 4 year old is not feeling well, and it turns in to full blown projectile vomiting. The clock reads 8 pm that moment when peace is about to descend upon you, you’ve earned it, the kids are finally sleeping. But not on this night, the ultimate tummy bug that the kindergarten is famous for has fucked your plans of silence. Not only the ensuing peace you anticipate but the assailing hours this son-of a-bitch might squeeze out of your pineal gland.
But you convince yourself… I’ve got this, we will be fine, surely that is her last spew. Your 2 year old is fast asleep and she always sleeps through the night. 8 O’clock swiftly becomes 10 O’clock — three rounds of power chucking into the ceramic bowl and your poor daughter is looking like a ghost. Then the mental gymnastics of: can I put her to bed? Should I leave her on the couch? No I need to keep her close and quite literally work on damage control. No big cleanups yet…
Wife sympathising; while 2 month old baby boy sucking her tits sideways falling in and out of sleep. She’s helpless and this is when dads have no choice. You better step up your game (motha fucka) I can hear her saying in her mind. Then the moment reaches its crescendo, 4 year old jumps up like a cat, I follow and we both sprint out of the room down the hallway into the bathroom. My girl managed to spew a nice wet trail from the fucking couch all the way to the toilet. Yes, yes, I say to myself, this is awesome… Fist pumping glory. Its now 11 O’clock and getting that good night sleep you planned on is looking very bleak, but you hold on, with a small sliver of hope.
Carpet cleaner, towels, scrubbing, chunks, wet wipes and warm water. My wife managed through the chaos to get a sleeping baby into bed. 2 down 1 to go, spew cleaned-up, other than a shiny wet hansel and gretel like trail from couch to throne. We all good…
Wife asleep on couch, 4 year old asleep on my lap, its now midnight and that good night sleep blowing across the Pacific Ocean without a care in the world. Bad was about to become worse, because that 2 asleep was about to evaporate to 1 asleep. Shrieks from the 2 year old bedroom shatter what silence remained. “Daddy, I need your help.” I leave sleeping 4 year old on couch and run to bedroom. My gut screaming that the fucking tummy bug has arrested not 1 child but 2 — here’s to hoping I’m wrong. Being a seasoned rookie I go for the shower, the best cleaner upper of a vomit covered toddler.
My suspicions were spot on. By the time 2 year old is undressed and I’m shoving her into the cascading water, I turn to 4 year old lurching what had to be the last contents in her stomach, she had nothing left. Past midnight and 2 toddlers showering staring blankly, pale and broken, or maybe I am the broken one. It was in this moment that I accepted our fate. And accepted that we were in for a long night. Sent wife to bed to look after prince Rumi, (sorry) baby boy. I made the executive decision: the 3 of us would camp in the living room for the night.
2 buckets saved anymore clean-ups and shattered children slept uncomfortably. I on the other hand, between holding the bucket and hair from falling in and scurries to the kitchen to rinse out buckets. Sleep would finally find me at 330 with my 2 year old laying across my chest.
Any parent has been here, and the deepest sympathies to all of you. Because that is some tough shit to deal with. (Yes there was shit too.) Raising children may be the toughest job in the world and our fate or karma might be why we have been employed in this sometimes cruel endeavour. But as we have all been told: “What doesnt kill you makes you stronger right.” I think that might be true.
Years ago I heard a powerful Ted Talk from a mother. Her message on parenting was about how we all want to give our children what we never had. But she spun that popular notion on its head — by reminding parents (do no harm first). In other words “don’t hurt them.” Just love them as they are. I think her message resonated with me because in promising to give our children the best of (this or that) we forget about what they might want in the pursuit of what we want for them.
It’s only been 12 hours since our crazy midnight kicked off another sleepless night, and I may have another one tonight. But I can promise you this: across the globe there will be thousands probably millions of parents suffering from lost sleep, all in exchange of our potential sanity and the hope that one day our children will be safe, and have the courage to follow their dreams not ours.
And finally to the parent’s in the world that are currently in the trenches. Carrying that parental employment on broken sleep, and maybe even more broken sleep… To the mothers and fathers across the globe; good luck. For tonight we may need not only that good luck but lots of towels and lots of water, and lots of love.