When I got the stomach flu as a kid my mom would make me a bed on the couch so I could watch tv all day cuddling my blankie. I would eat dry cheerios or plain rice chex as my “first foods”. For lunch we always ate those bags of noodle soup, minus the chicken… you know the ones? I hate those little pieces of unidentified chicken in chicken soup but I LOVE that chicken NOODLE soup in the little bags. I’d dunk saltines in the soup or crumble them up. I’d drink sprite. I never had to ask for those things, she just always had them.
But what if she didn’t?
Tonight Bailey started throwing up. And of course it was in her top bunk. So C and I stripped her bed. We threw out her pillow because it had soaked through and I just don’t wash pillows, I toss them. The germs freak me out. I started laundry so Teds could get clean right away but set it to “sanitize” which takes almost two hours to wash… I’m staying up late waiting for him to finish washing and then drying so I can tuck him back in with her. Then I called the Grandma’s to get tomorrow figured out because I have a morning session. I ran to Schnucks to buy rice Chex, saltines, chicken soup, grape juice (someone commented on FB tonight that if you drink three glasses of 100% grape juice as soon as you’ve been exposed to the stomach flu it can help keep it away!) and vitamin C. Came home to her puking on the couch bed I’d made her and my new rug. Of course. Got that laundry to the basement, cleaned the rug and made the couch bed again while Chris got her in the shower and dressed again. She’s thrown up countless times since, poor kid.
This is not our first rodeo. We had rotovirus hit our house a few years ago that was epic. Like bleeding hands from cleaning with bleach for too many days epic! I’ve dealt with puke and sick kids more times than I can remember. But for the first time ever it dawned on me that I never thought about the “behind the scenes” stuff my mom did for me when I was a kid like I was doing tonight for Bailey.
Did my mom always have those things on hand or did she run to Schnucks in her jammie pants with no bra too? How late did she stay up at night to make sure my blankie was back in bed with me before morning? How many loads of laundry did she do? Did her hands hurt from cleaning so much? Did she get sick too? I have no idea.
I’ve read essays and blog posts and articles about motherhood being the invisible job. And I guess that’s what being “behind the scenes” sort of means. But as I sit here trying to stay awake so I can change the laundry I realized that being a mom isn’t about being invisible, it’s about being magic.
It’s knowing what their favorite snacks are and never letting the snack bin run low. It’s making sure the toothpaste cap is actually on the tube as they leave for school. It’s remembering to send in permission slips and order forms. It’s knowing their medical history better than your own. It’s staying up all night before a birthday to make the house look special for them. It’s moving the Elf each night. Budgeting your family so you always have a good Christmas even during those hard years. It’s sneaking special animals and blankies out of little arms when they’re sleeping so they don’t cry for two hours on wash day but instead wake up not knowing why DogDog smells so good. It’s knowing all the teeny tiny nuances that no one else knows like the water temp each kid likes for their shower, how they like to be tucked in and what makes them afraid. It’s having chicken noodle soup, saltines and Rice Chex ready for when she wakes up and hopefully feels better in the morning.
Being a mom is magical. No one else in the world knows more about our kids than we do. And I can’t believe I never considered that my own mom had late night runs to Walgreens for extra bottles of Tylenol when we went to bed with a fever.
It’s fascinating to think about all the things i never knew my mom was doing for me. All the things she’s still doing for me that I still don’t realize. As a kid you are so completely wrapped up into your own little world you don’t think about your parents much. At least I didn’t. And even now I know I still lean on and rely on my mom more than I maybe should. But it’s because she’s still there. Working hard behind the scenes to make my life a little easier.
I hope Bailey wakes up with Teds in her arms tomorrow and doesn’t think about how he got there. Doesn’t realize I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning just so he’d be in her arms when she awoke. I hope she doesn’t question my magic.
Hey mom. Thanks for all the magical behind the scenes stuff you’ve done for me my entire life. Thanks for the sleepless nights and selfless days when I was sick. I never knew how hard you worked until tonight. I guess at 33 I finally understand your magic and I hope that I’m as good as you at keeping motherhood magical until the kids are parents themselves.