Heather Armstrong writes the most lovely "monthly newsletters" to her daughter, Leta. It was actually, in part, the inspiration for the whole "Letter to My Children" thing. I'm sure she has them saved in some beautiful scrapbook that her daughter will cherish forever. I wish I could write like that. But I haven't had the discipline or the talent to pull something together like that. I get bogged down writing about crazy family relations and maddening politics or trying to respond to emails about diapers or disabilities on this site sometimes. I don't even think I've written about the kids in a while. I still have kids! I still treasure just the plain ol' mommy thing!
Its ironic that I'm inspired to do this today, because I've just spent the last three days getting barfed on. And previous to that, two weeks of getting snotted on. And previous to that, weeks and weeks of getting diarrhea-ed on. Yes, it has been a tough winter for Aaron. Naim is just fine, of course. He has an endocrine system of steel, apparently. But Aaron has always struggled with his health as I do. Of all the things I could have passed down to him...blindness, deafness, kidney disease...I seem to have passed down to him my lousy immune system. It is actually the one thing that probably gives me the most struggle day to day. Both Aaron and I have to fight for the good healthy days. I'm hoping he grows out of it.
Today I had to drag everyone to three doctors appointments. Thankfully, D came along to help. But we are quite a crew trying to get all of us, wheelchair, double stroller, kids and me, around a hospital. It's not so bad in the pediatricians office, where everybody's kids are making a lot of noise, but it is kind of funny to walk into a quiet and somber nephrologist's 6X10 stark waiting room with the whole crew making a racket. Everyone looks up and stares. Some are disturbed, others are delighted for the break in the boredom.
Aaron and I went to the pediatrician about the barfing, while Naim and D stayed out in the waiting room. It had gone on for almost 48 hours, and although he was drinking and keeping some fluids down, he had eaten nothing in that time. And I had had it with the cleaning of the without-warning projectile vomiting. Kids this age are funny when they barf. They don't expect it or have any control over it. Adults will feel it coming on and try to hold out until they can rush to the bathroom. Kids will just be walking along, minding their own business, and suddenly their breakfast shoots out three feet in front of them, and then they keep walking. Ugh. I ran out of pants today because all of mine had been barfed on. So, the verdict was no surprise: stomach virus. Suppositories and pedialyte. Wait for the runny poop, and then it will be over. Pray Naim doesn't get it. (Aren't you glad you're reading this post? I hope you're not eating breakfast as you read. --Sorry.)
When I came out, D had a bunch of women around him and Naim. They were all cooing and giving Naim suckers and toys and stuff. I notice this with my dad, too. When I leave my kids alone with men, its like a chick magnet. Wouldn't it be cool if guys would come running to help me when I'm struggling to shove my double stroller through a doorway or pay for groceries with an irritable kid on my hip and another one whose stapled himself between my legs? Heh. Women alone with kids is like dude kryptonite.
So then, over to the hospital and to the audiologist to drop of my FM mike that is broken for the 80th time this year. We stopped at a cafeteria and tried to feed Naim actual food while only allowing Aaron juice. Very hard. I did have to give him a small piece of D's peanut butter cookie. And then I watched while he fought off trying to barf it across the table. He did good though. No barfing for the whole afternoon. Then off to the nephrologist to get my kidneys checked. Again, D stayed out with Naim and Aaron came with me. The doctor had me get on the scale while I was holding Aaron. he didn't even care. I said, "You know you have to subtract like 27 pounds from that, right?" He whatevered and walked off. So next time he'll probably freak out because I've lost 30 pounds in a week. B/P, squish on my legs, squish on my kidneys, pee in a cup (While Aaron smashed himself beside me) and out the door. In the waiting room, D is surrounded by the receptionists giving Naim their little desk toys to play with.
Up to the lab for blood work (while still holding Aaron) and to collect my jug to pee in for 24 hours. Then to Walgreen's for pedialyte and suppositories (with Aaron) and home with two cranky kids that missed their nap. But then I was able to fake 'em out and put them to bed an hour early. And no barf as of now. So we might have turned a corner. In total, I held Aaron almost continuously while traveling all around a medical center for 6 hours. He's only this clingy when he's sick. Which lately has been a lot. Aaron held a toy train in his hand for 6 hours as well. I used to not let them take toys with them into places because I thought they would lose them. Not Aaron, you couldn't pry his selected toy out of his hand. He likes to have something to hold on to. My only exception is that I will not let them take toys into the daycare or church nursery, because it just causes problems with the other kids who want to play with it.
I'm writing all this detail down about today, because someday I will have forgotten the fact that I had to take my kids with me EVERYWHERE. I know there are other parents out there in my situation, but many people have far more backup, babysitters, relay people, whatever than I do. Even when my kid is barfing sick, the poor guy has to be drug to my kidney doctor. They put up with a lot. We walk in all kinds of weather, we wait for all kinds of public transportation. Even today, D gave me a ride, but we just parked once and just walked from building to building on this medical campus. They walk up to the ATM with me, they do all my shopping with me, they get dragged to church meetings with me. I can't think of an errand or place I've been in the last six months or longer that I've done without the kids. They are my constant appendage. And they have to put up with me all the time, every day, all day long at home as well. And most of the time, they really do a good job. But sometimes I worry that they get too much of mom and not enough of other people.
But we have had a lot of visitors the last few weeks. My dad has been here for two months and just left last week. (That went extremely well-- by the way.) Although he refuses to babysit, he is someone else to interact with. He will occasionally watch them downstairs while I'm upstairs. My sister FINALLY came and met my kids. And the best thing about that is that now D or I don't have to answer his snotty-ass relatives that passive-aggressive to us about why it is that my sister hasn't met my kids yet. There has been first contact! It was only two days, and the first day Aaron, of course, was really sick and clingy. But the second day was much better. My sister can be kind of standoffish sometimes, but if you can knock that out of her, she can be a lot of fun. So, by the second day, she was interacting with the kids and they were having fun with her. It is a bit of a breakthrough. I think now she will be more comfortable having a relationship with them. Maybe next time will be a longer visit.
I've bitched a lot about D's relatives as a collective lot, but it really isn't fair to do that. I do it mainly to sort of be vague and not single anyone out. But it really is only a couple of people who do the full on judgmental passive-aggressive hate thing. D actually has a lot of cool relatives that I've met. Two of them are his sister, V, and his brother, Q. I love 'em both. They are both so much fun and easy going and relaxed. They don't take themselves or D and I too seriously. They are more perceptive than judgmental. They are fun for the kids to be around and have always just accepted the kids as family. The only bad thing is that they both live several hours away.
They both came up to visit D's mother, who recently had surgery. And they came over and visited us, too. Q had both kids in stitches the whole time. Q shaves his head, and plays this game with Naim to look for where his hair went. It's cute, Naim looks all around, under rugs and chairs, saying "Where Hair Go?" He's really good with kids in that fun way. I always liked seeing Q with kids. Once at KU, I was taking a group of about 8 kids on a field trip to a natural history museum on campus and I ran into Q with this whole line of kids behind me. Q got down on kid level and introduced himself to every one of them, shook their hand, and asked them their name. He just meets people where they are.
He was only up for a day, but V visited several times. And then she did the most amazing thing. She and D were going to go shopping at a mall, and she offered to take the kids with them. Like without me. Like, thus leaving me in the house alone for 5 hours. Alone. In my own house. You don't even realize what a miracle this was. I have literally not been in my house alone for more than 15 minutes for over two years. Not once. I didn't even know what to do with myself. I went to the mailbox, alone. And then realized that I could take a walk. Alone. Without pushing a stroller. Without the whole cumbersome deal that is to do when you can't see well. So I took a walk by myself for the first time in two years. I felt like Julie Andrews at the top of the Mountain at the Austrian/Switzerland border. If my neighbors wouldn't have tried to commit me, I would have ran spinning down the street, singing and arms flailing.
And when my kids came back, they were happy and diapered and fed and had new gifts to play with and a new outfit for each and were happy as could be. They definitely needed a break from me as well. And they had missed their nap as well that day, so they were in bed early. It was a really nice break. Aunt V ROCKS!
I know that next year when we start the preschool co-op they will meet other adults as well. Three is a bit of a breakthrough age for getting out in the world. They are old enough to do a lot more things. They will be talking more and potty trained (we hope) so other people are more willing to take them. I don't know if D will be able to take them alone next year or not. But he will at some point, and so will my dad. So I know it won't be like this forever. I know they won't be glued to me 24 hours a day for the rest of their lives.
The funny thing is that even though I know I need the breaks, I'm sad about that. I will miss having them with me 24/7. One thing that was weird when my guide dog died, was that I was no longer part of this unit anymore. I'm not comparing my kids to a guide dog, but we are a unit. People are used to seeing us together. I'm used to having a sick Aaron attached to me like a koala bear for six hours while he holds his train in one hand and pats me on the back with the other and tries not to barf on me. I'll miss Naim's little check-ins. He goes off and does his own thing, as long as he is within visual range of me and still comes over and checks on me every few minutes. He leans against me with his hand on my leg as he looks out into the world, like, mom--I just need a breather for a minute while I contemplate what to tackle next in the big world, and you are my home base. I'll miss that time after they wake up from naps and want to be held. One on my lap, curled up under my chin, another sitting next to me in the crook of my arm. I get impatient because I have to go cook dinner and they won't let me up. But then I think, at some point, they aren't even going to be here for dinner. Just shut up and savor the moment.
I sometimes wish it could be spread out more evenly. Like I could get more breaks now, but then when they are teenagers, they would want to spend time with me more than teenagers usually want to with their parents. But it just doesn't work that way, so even though I'm very rarely more than 50 feet from my kids now and sometimes want to jump out of my skin to escape, I'm trying to just appreciate every minute of it. Even when it includes being barfed on.