No Good, Very Bad Day

My hands smell faintly of shit.

Let me back up a bit. T was warm when we put him to bed last night. This morning he clearly had a fever, how high I didn’t know because the damn thermometer only gave a reading of 97 or 98. He also had a sore throat.

I have vowed to be the kind of Mom who sends her kid to school unless the need for an ambulance is involved. On the 4th day of kindergarten I broke that vow. C had his three year well visit today at 10, so I brought sick T along for the ride.

sick t

In the doc’s parking lot. He was passed out at 9:45am. And no, I have no idea what is going on with his tongue.

Let’s just say that getting a nearly catatonic kid plus a kid having a tantrum on the scale to grab their weights was quite the workout for the nurse and me. It was also loud enough for the occupants of the waiting room down the hall and around the corner to have a blow by blow of events, which I’m sure they appreciated. Because they got to feel good that their children were not embarrassing them in public.

T doesn’t have strep. And I’m really bummed. Not because I’m a raging asshole. (Oh who am I kidding, I am a raging asshole, but that part comes later in the post) If he had strep the antibiotics would ensure that he would feel better tomorrow. And that he could go to the birthday party he was looking forward to. Along with his first swimming lesson since he was about one. Instead I can’t do anything to help him. He is going to feel like total garbage for the next several days.

I’m sure C will catch it in time to miss his first day of school preschool on Monday. Speaking of C, he has rocketed up the growth chart from the 3% in weight one year ago all the way up to 5% today. This kid is so painfully thin that I’m scared people will think I’m starving him. If we manage to get him up to double digits in weight by the time he gets there in age perhaps I’ll stop obsessing that Child Protective Services is going to show up at my door demanding that I prove I’m giving him three square meals a day.

We got home and ate our lunch. The boys finished first and T collapsed back on the couch while I gave both boys a marshmallow, a bribe for making it through the flu shot at the doc’s. And yes, the doc gave the all clear for T to get the vaccine. He’s fever was only 100.5. And yes, the nurse and I had to hold T down together while he thrashed and screamed in anticipation of the shot. And yes, I cried a little.

IMG_8216

Poor sick kid couldn’t bring himself to eat the marshmallow.

I settled back at the table to bolt the rest of my lunch before taking C up for his nap. Two minutes later C walked into the room and proclaimed, “I pooped!”

I whipped around. There was poop on his thigh and leg. There was poop hanging off his butt. There was poop all over both his hands. In what feels like slow motion I watched him put one hand and then the other in his mouth.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed. But it was too late.

“DO NOT MOVE!” I’d scared the hell out of him. He wasn’t moving, but he was also weeping.

I carried him to the bathroom by his shoulders. He tried to reach out for me and it was like a demon with a voice several octaves below mine has possessed me. “DO NOT TOUCH ME!”

He cried harder.

I used baby wipes to get the chucks and streaks of poop off of him. The crying continued. I was focused on not puking, therefore I was unable to provide comfort.

We awkwardly climbed the stairs with me holding his wrists. I used an obscene amount of soap all over him, washing his hands about six times. I finally thought they no longer smelled like shit.

When I got him in bed for his nap I notice his hands still smell like shit. As do mine.

He sniffled and asked to go downstairs to pick out a toy that he could sleep with. In perhaps my worst parenting moment of the year I tell him that he can only have a toy to nap with when he figures out how to poop in the potty. Ah, there is the part where I’m a raging asshole!

It would be fair to call him potty trained when it comes to pee. He wears underwear whenever he is awake. The pee accidents are few and far between and usually my fault for not reminding him to go. And here is where my denial of a toy is even more assholic. Please, feel free to judge my shitty parenting. He is scared to poop in the potty.

I have no idea how to get past his fear. I feel bad for him. Most days I have more patience with the shit accidents. But I am so fucking sick of it. I am sick of cleaning crap off the floor, off his body, I’m sick of the ground in shit in his underwear. I’ve actually thrown several pairs away because I cannot face trying not to puke in the utility sink while I scrub.

Help me friends. Help me. How do I convince him that he doesn’t need to be scared of pooping in the toilet? Also, if you know a trick for getting the smell of shit off of C and my hands I’d love to hear it!

c cupcake

I love him. I feel terrible for losing patience with him. I want him to shit in the fucking toilet.

Advertisements

Wednesday

Unplowed roads meant the boys didn’t go to school this morning.

They both have colds.

My throat started hurting by noon.

Walked over a mile in a snowstorm to school.

Classes were cancelled shortly thereafter, but we didn’t know that in our class so we stayed til the end.

I slipped and fell on the way home.

The plow came while I was gone and blocked our driveway so I shoveled it out so Z could pull in.

C had pooped during his nap and taken his diaper off. The sitter did a great job dealing with the mess, way above her pay grade. But I found crusted poop on the floor of his room and he simply smelled like feces.

I cleaned up the shit and gave him a bath.

T gagged on leftovers from two nights ago. Two nights ago when he cleaned his plate and told me I made good food.

This was not a fun day.

So I was really looking forward to the one cadbury creme egg  left on the counter after dinner.

I earned that damn egg.

Also, it would seem that I ate that damn egg yesterday.

Fuck. FUCK. FUUUUUUUCK.

I really wanted that creme egg.

stroll in the snow

After my delightful stroll in the snow.

star wars stickers

The boys playing with Star Wars stickers this morning. T is obviously Spider-Man.

Terrible Wonderful

Nothing gets the old adrenaline pumping like our four year old puking across the threshold into our bedroom at 5:30am. The adrenaline got us through the immediate aftermath-we divvied up responsibilities. Z got T out of his pukey pjs. I cleaned up the vomit on the floor and tracked down the lysol. Usually I avoid antibacterial cleaner. But vomit is in a different category. I do everything I can to make sure no one else is going to catch the bug. Even if I know that effort is futile.

After T was settled on the sofa with some TV and a puke bucket Z told me he’d stay downstairs and I should go back up for a bit more sleep. At that point I knew I had it, too. Z felt queasy as well-it is impossible to care for a kid with a stomach bug and not get all psychosomatic about it, so he was pretty sure it was in my head as well.

About five minutes later the diarrhea started. And within the hour I was hollering for Z as I was puking myself. He rubbed my back for a few minutes, but C was stirring and he had to leave. Z offered to clean out the sink. Unfortunately I’d started there before transitioning to the toilet, but I wouldn’t let him. He wasn’t sick yet, there was no way he was allowed to touch puke, even with latex gloves on.

Things get fuzzy after that. The diarrhea was unrelenting, violent, and painful. My body developed that pain you forget about when you are well. My skin felt bruised all over, the ache was terrible, I had the chills and was feverish. Somewhere in there C tossed his cookies. Z whisked him away and I cleaned up and put the soiled laundry in the washer. But I didn’t throw up again. And I besides the cleaning and peeing out of my ass (sorry, just calling ’em like I see ’em) I stayed in bed. Till after noon.

Somehow Z managed to wrangle two sick kids, feed our friends’ cat, get the the grocery store, and let me be alone until after noon. On this December 1st it felt like a Christmas miracle.

The thing that is impossible to explain to those who are embarking upon parenthood is how fucking unrelenting it is. How unreasonable. How permanently your life changes.

I am a princess when I get sick. It’s gross. But even with all my princess entitlement it took more than 4 years for me to have a full day to myself while sick. And please believe me, I’m not trying to say I’m some hero or special for not being able to have a break while sick before now. Every parent does it. If someone told me that the boys and I would have a stomach bug on day one of Z’s five day business trip last March I would have told you I couldn’t get through it. But I did. Not because I’m a kick ass human, but because that’s life. Man, recovery was rough from that one for me because I never really got a day to rest. I wasn’t myself for weeks.

That is what makes today so special. I got up after noon, tried to eat and drink a little something, discovered it was way too soon and was hustled up to bed again by Z. He even sat in bed with me for a sec and rubbed my back some more. I was mostly in bed all day. Z did everything. He made the boys meals and occupied them. It was a fucking awful day for all of us.

I’m still weak. My skin still feels bruised. When I eat the stabbing pains return to my gut. I’m running to the bathroom, although now it is about once an hour instead of every few minutes. But I got rest today. Honest to god like before we had the kids rest. It is going to make tomorrow a million times easier.

Thank you, Z. Thank you. This might just be the biggest gift you have given me in the last four and a half years.

And just so you don’t think I’m a total monster, the boys are fine. They were keeping down food by the afternoon. For some reason the stomach bug just wasn’t as severe for them. I’d rather it was me anyway. No matter how selfish you are (and I speak as one who is extremely selfish) the pain of watching your kid be violently ill is unbearable. You’d do anything to trade places with them because it actually hurts more to watch them go through it than it does to deal with it yourself. True story. Parenthood really is nuts.

harry potter marathon

Yesterday was much nicer. T and I cuddled on the sofa and watched the Harry Potter Marathon on ABC Family.

c with stick

Walk softly and carry a big stick. Also yesterday. After I snapped the picture I grabbed the hunk of wood from him and returned it to the basement.

The Kid Is Alright

While waiting for the water to heat up so I could hop in the shower this morning I reached for the comb and my arm brushed in front of my chest. Normal for clumsy and busty me. What wasn’t normal was my arm got wet. I looked down. Damned if I wasn’t leaking a little.

It’s been a week since I’ve weaned C.

He’s fine. This experience has been another reminder of what a resilient and self-sufficient little guy he is. When he was evaluated for early intervention the therapists explained that he was self-motivated. He does what he wants when he wants and really doesn’t care about fulfilling the desires and earning the approval of others.

He is so different from T. T cares deeply what those in positions of authority think of him. Yeah, he doesn’t just look like me, he actually is me.

C’s self-direction….Z and I have been frustrated with his behavior lately. He is acting out like a normal two year old. The kind of disciplining that worked with T when he was C’s age isn’t effective with C. Because duh. They are individuals. It is our responsibility to parent by responding to their needs rather than what is easiest for us.

This fall has been full of changes for C. He started school and speech therapy. He gave up his pacifier while sleeping. I weaned him. Last weekend we even switched his car seat from rear to front facing. On top of all that he has been sick pretty much since school started. Right now he is rocking a cough that wakes him multiple times in the night. Who knows what it will be next week? Through it all he has been just fine. He adjusts without angst…unlike some 36 year olds I know.

Parenting T is more intuitive to me because we are so alike. The empathy I feel for him is immediate and intimate. Don’t get me wrong, T frustrates the living shit out of me. I fuck up constantly and lack patience with him. But I also understand him in my bones. I love him completely.

Parenting C makes me feel helpless a lot of the time. It is harder to respond to his needs because I don’t have a frame of reference for them. I want to help him, to teach him, to support him, but I am often at a loss as to how to achieve those goals. He ends up teaching me much of the time. His baseline is pretty much happiness. He can fend for himself. When circumstances change he just deals with it and rapidly adapts to the new normal. I wish I was more like him. I cannot believe my body, which has been consumed by anxiety for so long, grew him. I love him completely.

That’s the thing with two kids. We parent them differently because we are responding to who they are as individuals. But we love them both completely. We screw up. Often. The hope is that the love will see us through our mistakes. The love will motivate us to do better. The love will make them feel safe.

I leaked on myself today. I miss nursing him so much it feels like there is a gaping hole in my chest. A week later and my breasts are still heavy and a bit tender. My body does not want to be done. But C only asks to nurse a few times a day. He is fine with Z putting him to bed at night. Fine with our new morning routine. I find myself looking to him as an example of how to deal with change. This strong and willful and adaptable creature I made with my body. He is going to teach me so much. I am grateful to have him as my son.

photo (28)

C on his first car ride facing forwards. His big reaction was basically a non-reaction. More of a, “Oh? We’re gonna do this now? Cool.” Sure is nice to be able to glance in the rear view mirror and see both of their faces. C has started to give me a shit eating grin with he catches my eye in the mirror. Man, do I adore that kid.

snow hill jog

After my craziness yesterday morning I got myself together and went for a jog. It was 29 degrees and lightly snowing. I really didn’t want to run in the cold. But I went. And I somehow made myself change routes and face some hills. All these selfies I post after jogging are certainly not flattering. And I don’t use any filters in keeping with the honesty thing. But they are real. I am struggling to do this thing. I’m proud of myself. I had a panic attack and I ran in the cold and snow anyway. Flattering isn’t the point. You can actually see the excitement and happiness and surprise on my face. Seriously, people! If I can do this you can do this!

Thankful

There is a teeny tiny chance that one of our best friends will have to be in the city for work near Thanksgiving and maybe, just maybe he’ll be able to come up here for the holiday.

When he texted me about it yesterday I couldn’t believe it. This is the first year we haven’t had solid Thanksgiving plans since moving to Syracuse. We aren’t traveling to see family. Family isn’t traveling to see us. We are sad about both of those facts, but we have obligations at home and just can’t travel this year. Our closest Syracuse friends are going out of town. We invited Berkshire friends who had come for Thanksgiving a few years ago, but they already had plans. I told Z I wasn’t doing a huge turkey dinner for 4 of us and he agreed.

But I love Thanksgiving. I love cooking a huge meal. I love taking the time to be thankful for our life. We decided to have a Friendsgiving the Saturday before. It looks like we are going to have an incredibly full house. The usual suspects from Halloween plus a bunch of other people. We can’t wait.

And we received an invitation to a day-after-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. So we will be celebrating plenty.

Z is very into celebrating when the mood is right. He cares less about specific days when you HAVE to do something and more about sincerity of intent. Because he is a thoughtful person. Um….I care about the day. The actual proper day. And tradition. Because I have a stick up my ass.

Yesterday our dear friend let us know he might be able to be here for Thanksgiving. Suddenly there was potential for the actual day to be significant. And last night Z was at a Halloween party. One of our friends asked if we wanted to go to his folk’s house for Thanksgiving with his family. In one day we suddenly had options. We will get to celebrate not only around the day but actually on the day.

When we lived in Providence one of my work friends took Z and me under his wing and always invited us to spend holidays with his family. He was horrified that we didn’t have family around and let us borrow his wife’s and his. Our friend here is doing the same. To those of you who live near extended family? I know it comes with a different set of issues than living with no family nearby, but during the holidays it can be pretty magical. When you guys share your families with holiday orphans you really are doing a great kindness. People being nice. Rapidly becoming my favorite part of life.

woody guthry

Totally stole this picture from FB. Z as Woody Guthrie last night.

We had two Halloween parties to attend last night, one with the boys and one after they went to bed. But our sweet T is rocking a pretty terrible cold. At the last minute we pulled the plug on the first party so T could veg on the sofa and we could mop up the intensely prolific flow of snot from his nose. He was upset about missing the party, but we gave him a bonus piece of candy and let him watch Return of the Jedi. Jabba the Hut makes everyone feel better. And I stayed home while Z went to the second party.

hair cut

My little snot head is a bit better today. He and I got our hair cut. For the first time he sat on the seat himself instead of on my lap. I did ask him if he wanted his hair short, we are letting him drive the boat when it comes to length. But he said in his husky sick voice, “Nope. Just a trim!”

Radio Silence

It’s been a shit week. Started off with T informing me I was fat. There was a stressful and involved homework assignment I left to the last minute. A terrible therapy session. Yesterday I wrote 700 words about the it. But they were the wrong words. I deleted the post. Found out that someone I loved a very long time ago lost a person close to him, a person I rather adored. C got another cold. The hot water heater broke rather dramatically to the tune of nearly a grand. The boys went on a sleeping strike. Z and I haven’t spent time together in, oh, I don’t know how long. The anxiety has been…..constant.

sad C

C in this moment=how I’ve felt all week.

Many other people experienced real tragedy over the last few days. I’m just being a whiney brat. But it is why I haven’t been writing.

Today wasn’t so bad. Found out a friend from a million years ago sent a scoby to me. Sometime next week I should be trying to figure out how to brew my own kombucha. Was the room mother for T’s class and had fun with my boy. Except when he told two gals that the tree he was playing under was “No girls allowed”. Yes, I might have performed an impromptu monologue straight out of a women’s issues class. But other than that heartbreak it was delightful.

bumblebee

T’s Halloween costume arrived in the mail this afternoon. He is rocking this look. One of the cooler parts of parenthood? Six months ago I had no idea who Bumblebee was. Personally I still don’t give a shit about him, but because T adores him he has sort of crept into my heart a little.

photo (20)

After a trip to Target to score Mommy more crazy lady drugs and the boys some more play doh (What? I don’t make my own play doh? I know! Call Child Protective Services!) I decided I was pretty much done with the week. Z wasn’t home for dinner. So we got take out, I told the boys we would pretend it was a picnic, cracked open a bottle of cider, and I threw in a Harry Potter Movie. T was pissed I made him take off the Bumblebee costume. But I was not born yesterday. And no, we don’t have a flatscreen TV. I realize we might be the only people on the planet. Someday I hope we join those living in the 21st century.

friday night

So there you have it. Rough week. Better Friday. Hey next week? Can we be friends?

Proud

It is hard to give myself credit for achieving goals because the anxiety, the stupid bitch who is making it so hard to reach those goals to begin with, whispers to me that they aren’t a big deal. She tells me that most people, normal people do the stuff I’m proud of without a second thought. She tells me I am sad and pathetic for feeling pride over such small steps. She explains that my feelings of excitement are further proof that I am a pathetic loser.

I fucking hate her so much.

And today I’m going to ignore her incessant whispering. I am proud of myself for a couple of things that have gone down lately. Proud enough to tell you about them.

Shortly after we got back to town from our trip south T started a summer school program. With Z’s encouragement I started fast walking every morning while T was at school. I didn’t own proper sneakers, so after a few days I bought a pair. I downloaded a GPS running app recommended by a friend who does exercise. I stretch before I start. I go two miles every morning. When I started three weeks ago I fast walked the whole time.  This morning I jogged the whole first mile and around .4 of the second. I logged my fastest time. I’m doing this, really doing it. Like for the first time in my life. I have an exercise routine. Evidently you can teach a 36 year old dog new tricks. The hope is that by the time T finishes summer school the 6 weeks of working out will have become habit. I want to continue doing this. I haven’t gotten regular cardiovascular exercise since elementary school. I’m not planning on running a marathon or anything, but I would like to be healthy for many years for my boys.

I’m doing something I’ve been too chicken to try, something I’ve wanted to do, something that is difficult for me and extremely physically uncomfortable. I’m so far out of my comfort zone I need a passport. After years of encouragement from therapists, doctors, family, and Z I have no idea why I’m doing it. Does the why really matter, though? The important thing is it is happening.

slow run

Some days the exercising doesn’t go that well.

happy run

And other days I manage to achieve personal bests. On all the days I have a cherry red face when I’m done. And for the next 90 minutes or so….

Now onto the second thing I’m proud of…this one is going to probably seem silly. One of the most oppressive side effects of my anxiety disorder is the mild agoraphobia. It prevented me from taking a class at SU for several years. I get extremely agitated in crowded places. Parties freak me the fuck out. I even get anxious when I’m preparing to go to a good friend’s home. We entertain a lot at our house. Because it is really the only comfortable way for me to hang out with people.

A couple of weeks ago friends of ours invited us to spend a weekend with them and several other families at a home on Lake Ontario. These people are my friends. I like every single one of them very much. We agreed to go. I was actually excited about it. But as the date came closer my anxiety grew more acute. I was sure I’d make a fool of myself, have a public anxiety attack, have explosive diarrhea. And then the day before the trip C spiked a fever. When he went to bed on Thursday night his temp was 101.9. Not terrible, but not great. By that point I had a migraine and was furious at myself for letting my anxiety manifest in such a shitty, physical, obvious way.

Z held down C’s arms as we took his temp. He saw the thermometer creep higher and higher and settle on 101.9. My anxiety was so out of control that I believed he thought I was making C’s fever up to get out of going to the lake. I’m well enough to know that makes no sense, but not well enough to stop thinking it was the truth.

I took a chill pill, took my migraine medication, and went to bed.

The next morning C still had a fever. We gave him ibuprofen and as the morning progressed he was much more chipper than he’d been the day before. I was sure I had my out, though. C and I would stay in Syracuse, T and Z would go and have a great time. But our hosts made it clear that it was cool with them that we brought a sick kid. Z really wanted us to be part of it. And I have no idea how I rallied, but I did. The whole family went. Of course we had a terrific time. Of course I had a terrific time. Ok, I went to bed hours before the rest of the adults, but that is what it is. When my anxiety is acute it exhausts me. And my children wake up hours before the magic children of our friends, so the extra sleep was a good thing.

Z T in the waves

Z slinging T over a big wave.

calm with cairn

The next morning the lake was like glass. Whenever there are rocks Z builds me cairns. He calls them cairns for Karen and it is one of the sweetest things he does for me. You know, besides putting up with the fact that I am batshit crazy. He’s a keeper.

***

Two seemingly little things. Exercise and a weekend away. It’s embarrassing to admit, but to me they feel like Mount Everest. I’m proud of myself for pushing past my comfort zone, for engaging in life. I’m learning that exposing myself to the anxiety is worth it a lot of the time. I’m learning that I like living life.

The boys split an ice cream sandwich for dessert last night. I think they liked it.