At around 9 p.m. on a Friday, your child will spike a fever, begin vomiting, or get a concussion. Assuming there aren’t actually any massive head injuries, the vomiting is the worst because the actual act of the vomiting is just the beginning. There will be carpets to clean and sheets to wash and dry. Sometimes, there will be chunks too big to go directly into the washer. Some of them will fall on your feet as you pull the sheets off the bed. Guess who’s in charge of scraping those into the toilet? Sometimes, you’ll pull your ailing little one into bed with you, at which point he will vomit in your bed, and you’ll be forced to begin another round of washing. No one will say, “Thank you.” You will officially get your mother club membership card when you instinctively catch the throw up in your hands to avoid letting it hit the carpet. That smell lingers.
When this entire adventure begins, the urgent care centers will already be closed, and you will worry about bothering the doctor. Call the doctor anyways. If you’re cradling a sick baby while surfing WebMD to find out if his symptoms are a precursor to cancer, call the doctor. If you’re calling your mom in the middle of the night to find out how many episodes of vomiting would be considered too much, call your doctor. If you’re shining a flashlight into your child’s eyes to be sure his pupils are dilating evenly, call your doctor.
The truth is that a funny thing happens the morning after your battle with all that puke. You’ll be tired, naturally, and you’ll count down the minutes until your husband returns from work. But, your child will wake from fitful sleep with flushed cheeks. You will get the pillow she likes best from her bedroom, set up a warm corner on the sofa with her favorite stuffed animal and a cozy blanket. All of that will help, but nothing will make her feel better than the simple fact of your presence. You will rub her tummy and urge her to eat just a few bites of toast, to sip just a taste of watered down Gatorade. She’ll be open for cuddling. Even if she rolls over and throws up one last time on the sofa, you’ll be glad that being a stay at home mother means you didn’t have to bother with making last minute arrangements for a babysitter or worry about using up another sick day of your own. You’ll also be glad that you spent the extra cash on Scotchgard. You will never wish discomfort on your child, but that morning will show you how nice it can feel to be so thoroughly needed.