Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nothing Says "We Are Family"

Like some serious vomit.
There is something about holding a child close, even though she is covered in vomit and possibly contagious. Yeah, a part of you is thinking logistics: germs, laundry, is there more coming? But most of you is just worried about your poor little kid and making her feel better.

There is also something about cleaning vomit off the slats in the toddler bed, the crevasses in the walls and mattress, and random nooks and crannies around the room {only to still have another gallon or so to clean off the more obvious surfaces} that is sort of a bonding experience for a family That is when you remember: we are grown ups, and we are responsible for this mess, but we are in it together. It doesn't feel that special at the time. It feels a little bit more like some Old Testament style plague that you aren't sure what you did to deserve. But the next morning, when the sun comes up and your daughter asks for some chocolate milk. And keeps it down. And when you finally finish six loads of laundry. That is when you sort of get a feeling that it is moments like this (the up all night, are we going to survive, kind of moments) that families become real. Like when you bring home a tiny, crazy little baby. Or are growing a tiny, crazy little baby in the first-trimester days. Or even, before there are any babies to blame the vomit on.

I remember when I first realized this. It was after the Thanksgiving that Cork and I got engaged. I got so sick with a stomach bug that everyone in the family had been passing around, that I ended up in the hospital for a few days. I just kept passing out (sometimes, pre- or mid-vomit. That was a trip.) When they first transferred me from the emergency room to the cardiac floor, I was given strict orders to not get out of bed. At all. So that meant bed pans for me. Like, have you ever intentionally gone to the bathroom while lying in bed? I'm not OK with it. Obviously I made Cork leave the room. But because I was on the cardiac floor, my pulse and blood pressure were broadcast above my door. So he always knew exactly when he could come back in the room. And he always came back in laughing at me. In some ways, those lowest moments of my stomach bug seemed more intimate and memorable than parts of our wedding, even. He stayed by my side (with vomit still crusted in my hair), cancelling a flight to take care of me. And he didn't even make too much fun of me for the bed pan and vomit-covered bathroom walls. That is love. And that is when I knew we were a family.

And every time we have teamed up to face a long night of vomit together, I feel like we get a little bit close. It is like family glue, that vomit. Who knew?


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