My daughter woke up this morning with a stomach ache. At 6:13am. Because today is Saturday and no one had to be anywhere. Of course I was already awake because my cat also had a stomach ache and coughed up a huge hairball. Apparently he wanted me to know all about it because he kept jumping on my legs and climbing onto my chest and my head. He was also trying to eat a bag he found under the bed and then poking his claws into the side of the mattress making all kinds of ridiculous noise. Since this was all going on at around 3 o’clock in the morning I was not happy and put him in the living room and shut the door. So of course he proceeded to scratch the door and whine until I let him back in. My husband slept through everything of course, snoring like an oncoming train. Lovely, I thought. All I need is grandma and the dog down here and we can really have a party! Binx (my cat) continued to climb on me and eventually fell asleep on my legs. Ah, I thought, finally some peace! I had just fallen back asleep when my daughter woke up “Mama my tummy hurts.” I considered my options for about a minute and then I let her play with my phone. That’s why you don’t let them have it all the time. So when you really need it, they are engrossed by it and it’s not something they’ve become accustomed to and are almost bored by…Of course she played for a few minutes and then I had to turn the volume down. Her room is right next to ours and I cannot sleep to the sound of high pitched cartoon voices. Then she had to go potty, “Mama I have to go potty!” then all this commotion woke the cat back up who resumed trying to climb on my head just as Nick let out a loud snore.
“God****!! I am just trying to sleep and it’s F***** impossible with this family, even the cat won’t let me sleep!” Needless to say I was still tired.
Well, Nick was kind enough to get up with Alice and Binx and let me sleep a bit longer, although since we don’t have our curtains up yet having just moved in, I was up with the sun anyways. Then it was coffee and tea time; coffee for grandma and Nick, tea for me since too much caffeine leaches the lithium right out of the bloodstream. Grandma had her usual eggs and tomatoes for breakfast, Nick had his usual nothing and I had my usual round of pills followed by oatmeal and more pills. Good morning bipolar how are you today? Alice and I usually have the same thing for breakfast, (except for the pills) AND she always has an organic gala apple cut into slices. Today Daddy was driving the ship and he didn’t cut it up for her, hence she was forced to eat the skin. It was so hard for me not to rescue her because I could hear her protests over the whole apple he offered her. But I knew if I got up and cut it for her she would just eat the middles and avoid the skin which is the healthiest part (mamas you feel me!!) This is one of the many reasons why Daddies are so important too, sometimes they can sense when a child is ready to move onto the next step. When it’s time to stop babying them and let them grow up a little. I gave Nick a silent high five and dozed back off for a few more minutes.
After breakfast it was meal planning and making the grocery list with grandma. We just got an instant pot and we are trying to learn it. As both of us are seasoned cooks, we are having to modernize ourselves in our attempt to adapt to it. I experienced success yesterday with a beef stew. I was actually pretty impressed with the results. My first try I had to take the meal out and finish it on the stove. I learned it’s helpful to read the user manual beforehand.
Done with the list we hit the road. Nick stayed home with Alice to clean up her bedroom. We didn’t have a lot of time, Alice’s friend Athena was coming for the afternoon. I wasn’t all that worried though because my mother in the grocery store is like a force of nature. Especially when she has a list and a time frame. It’s a truly a sight to behold. Just stay out of her way.
An aside: Today is St. Patrick’s Day so my mother is making corned beef and cabbage for dinner. I’m writing upstairs in the kitchen since Nick is watching wonder woman downstairs. She keeps telling me to add things into my blog. “Put in your blog about how much you love writing on a beautiful afternoon in the valley while your mom cooks corned beef and cabbage!”
“Ok mom.” She drops a carrot and I kid her about throwing carrots around the kitchen.
“Add it into your blog! Write it’s a beautiful life in the valley with my mother making corned beef and cabbage and throwing the carrots!” She is proud of her idea.
“I’m going to write about how you keep telling me to write things in my blog about you!” This makes her laugh. A few minutes later she tells me to put something else in my blog. Because this is what she does now and as a matter of fact I am putting it in blog after all. There you go mom.
We were shopping and my mom was on a roll when I got the text from Nick. Alice threw up. Oh no, not again. The acrid smell of just puked macaroni and cheese took me days to get out of her mattress the last time she was pukey cat. I called him and he put me on speaker phone. Alice was in the bathtub. “I’m not sick!” She yelled from the tub.
“Yes you are, you just threw up” Nick said this to me as well as to her.
“NO!!” My poor kiddo she just wants her friend to come over I thought.
“Are you sure it’s not just something she ate?” I asked this knowing the answer.
“I wish you could be here to see her in person.”
“Yeah I figured,” I was as bummed as Alice.
“I’m not sick!” Alice continued to protest against what she saw as an unfair authoritarian governing body. I hope she never loses that fighting spirit I thought smiling in spite of everything.
After texting with Athena’s mom we set up a future sleepover to assuage the sorrows of both girls over the cancelled playdate. It will be Alice’s first sleepover and I’m just blown away by how popular she is already. I suppose it’s not surprising and I’m so glad, it just opens up a whole new world of joys and fears for me. My daughter is pure sunshine although she can raise holy hell when the mood strikes her. I’m teaching her to use her powers wisely.
Back at the house I was sautéing asparagus to go with the meatballs I just microwaved. “Can I have a meatball?” Alice asked me this and I sighed, knowing it’s a bad idea and also knowing if I don’t she’ll scream until she throws up anyways. It’s a no win situation. (Don’t judge, sick children are crazed irrational beasts not to be trifled with!) So I gave her the meatball knowing that was not the last I would see of it. She ate it and didn’t ask for a second one which I took as a bad sign. She reached for an apple however, and washed it herself in the sink and took a big bite (Good job Daddy!) a little while later, I was helping grandma organize the cupboards in the kitchen and it had been just long enough for me to forget to worry about Alice and the return of her meatball. Suddenly Alice, who was right beside me, popped open like a champagne bottle and puke flew out of her. The meatball! Immediately the dog ran into the kitchen and grandma grabbed her around the collar pulling her back
“Nick we need your help, Alice is throwing up!” Grandma yelled from the kitchen her arms around the dog. “I can’t do anything I have Abby.”
“Is she in the kitchen?” Nick always asks the important questions first.
“Yes!” I was momentarily frozen having to wait for her to stop exploding long enough to race across the carpet to the bathroom. Not wanting to repeat macaroni and cheese night (picture me knee deep in a bathtub full of bubbles and puked up macaroni and cheese with Alice covered head to toe in the stuff. Even in her hair. Good holy Lord it was nasty!) I finally found a second to grab her up and run past grandma and the dog into the guest bathroom where my poor girl could finish puking in peace. Motherhood is so glamorous.
As I’m finishing this blog all is calm momentarily and one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite songwriters has come sailing through the living room, making me feel sixteen again. The sheer potency of her music always makes me catch my breath. It literally pulls me out of my life and thrusts me into another world, another reality. Listening to the song which is China by Tori Amos I think of how easy it is to feel far away from the ones you love, how for so long when Alice was sick I was the only one there. Or worse when both of us were sick I was still the only one there. Nick would come home from epically long days and it was so hard for us to find that common ground. He’d leave his world of work knowing he’d have be back in the blink of an eye and enter my world of the home and family which was also my work and there was nowhere to meet in the middle. So many of us find ourselves in that place and the strain of it is written so clearly like tattoos all over our bodies. All over our faces. Tori says it best…
“China all the way to New York I can feel the distance getting close. You’re right next to me, but I need an airplane, I can feel the distance as you breathe. Sometimes I think you want me to touch you. But how can I when you build the Great Wall around you…” Tori Amos
Luckily our days are easier now and I’m not flying solo anymore. I can greet the day with a sense of joy rather than one of sheer exhaustion. When Alice is sick I have help and the moments with my family are meaningful even when mundane. I spend most of my time in a state of gratitude for all the large and small moments. I love them because they are mine to love. That’s a thing no one can take from me no matter what.
I did not love this world
I did not love this world
This world did not love me
I longed for my escape
Beneath the twisted roots of trees
Beneath the velvet waves of black
In the deep and swelling lake
Free from lies I could not take
And a life spent on my knees
I did not love this life
This life did not love me
I longed to be subsumed
By the endless hills of green
Where the God and Goddess rule
Where the wild things might find grace
Where Mother Nature’s face
Remains untainted and serene
I did not love this time
This time did not love me
I longed to disappear
Behind the curtain of a dream
Where the clocks have lost their way
And the two hands spin apart
Where the ache of my poor heart
Is eclipsed by moonlight’s gleam
I did not love these days
These days did not love me
I longed to soar beyond
Into tomorrow’s bright reprieve
Where the past is laid to rest
And ancient wounds are finally healed
And ancient wisdom is revealed
And there is nothing left to grieve
Yet love did raise my head
So I could see the sky
A panoply of colors
The sunrise in my eye
And love did warm my heart
So I could stretch my wings
And feel the soaring joy
Of the songbird as he sings
Yes I had long forgot
That Life was mine to live
And Happiness a choice
And Love my gift to give