Last Thursday night I walk talking to my parents and boasted, “I think this is the week! Five for five! I think we may actually have all five kids in school for ALL five days for the first time since before Thanksgiving!” Then on Friday morning, our pale eight year old appeared in the kitchen, dropped to the floor, grabbed his stomach and moaned in pain. “It hurts Mom! It really hurts!”
I took his temperature. Nothing. He tried to throw up. Nothing. His tummy just hurt. A lot. But, given the lack of fever and vomit and my hellbent ambition to fulfill my “five for five” week (not to mention my desire to show up to work on time for a change!), I sent him off to school with toast in hand and the reassurance that if it really really hurt, he should go to the nurse and I’d be there to pick him up in a heartbeat. So, at 10:15 the nurse called and I was. So much for “five for five!” And so began yet another weekend where the Lyons Den took on the air of an infirmary.
I’m not one to run to the doctor but even I had to admit defeat last week when my pals at work told me how crappy I looked (even on the day I got all fancy and used tinted moisturizer!) and started to call me “the Germ.” The poor guy who sits down the hall from me was blasting his music just to drown out my sniffling and nose-blowing — which is admittedly un-ladylike and loud. Really loud. Like a foghorn. I finally decided enough was enough and sought medical treatment. It turns out that with a sinus infection, my hardcore “this too shall pass” mentality doesn’t work. Thankfully, antibiotics do!
I share this because it dawned on me on Saturday that one of the triplets has been asking me to take him to the doctor for weeks. Weeks! He does lean toward the dramatic but, when I think back, I realize he was the ONLY kid who didn’t make it to the pediatrician during the long, sick month between Thanksgiving and Christmas – those frenzied four weeks when we had at least two kids home sick from school daily. For real. It was awful. And this poor kid got lost in the fray. Has his nose been running? Sure. Thick green boogers? Sure. Fever? Well, not persistently but perhaps on again, off again. “PLEASE Ma,” he pleaded on Saturday, “please can I go to the doctor?!” And as we ran from errand to errand, to practices and parties, I told him “yes, tomorrow.”
That night, he was a real pest. A major whiner. And he refused to eat his dinner so, like any good parents, we forced him to. As we tucked him that night — his very first night with his brand new “big boy comforter,” he asked again, “tomorrow will you take me the doctor?” And I said yes. Then I got all sappy and sentimental as I looked at our triplets, tucked into their big-boy bunk beds with brand new comforters they could feasibly bring to college. I went to bed pining for the baby days that have passed us by and not quite ready for the wonder years that lie ahead. At some point in my slumber, I heard a muffled sound. “I think someone barfed,” I told my husband who was pretending to sleep.
I listened more closely. There was a cough, a snuffling nose, a quick cry. Then silence. So I rolled over and returned to the Land of Nod. Big mistake. As the sun rose on Sunday morning, I discovered my top-bunk boy bedded down in barf, literally covered with the remains of the dinner we forced him to eat. Unfortunately, it was pasta and meat sauce. Unfortunately, it was all over him and that brand new big boy comforter. I don’t need to describe in detail the odor or how gross it was to clean up the mess in the top bunk; I will suffice it say that I had to shake the sheets out in the yard before washing them. It was that bad.
So, who knows. Maybe those comforters won’t make it to college after all. But, that boy sure did make it to the doctor. At long last! In considering the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time at the pediatrician than in my bed and more money on doctor’s visits and prescriptions than groceries. My pals at work have wondered aloud, “how do you do it?!” And I resort to my standard answer, my North Star, “one day at a time.” And then I remind myself that this too shall pass. And quickly. This winter is long but this year, like those before it, will undoubtedly pass far too fast. And when it does, I won’t miss the barf-covered bunks or sobbing sick children but, I’m sure the day will come when I do miss feeling so needed, so necessary and so vital to their well-being. That’s a feeling I’d like to hold on to — one that I hope will never pass.