Last week, I wrote a post called "It Got Better" (check out Part 1 and Part 2). Granted, I was talking about mothering newborns when I wrote that post, but my timing was poor at best, because this month has (if you'll pardon my technical jargon) sucked a big fat one.
Between my son, my husband, and I, we have been to the doctor's office six times in the last 4 weeks. Here's the tally: torrents of diarrhea, pink eye, bronchitis, more pink eye, an ear infection, and a throat infection. For the record, Pork Chop did not get pink eye because I farted into his eye, as my sister, a nurse, suspects. However, I can say with absolute certainty that Pork Chop gave me pink eye because he likes to use my face as his personal Kleenex. Frankly, if the kid wipes snot on my cheek one more time, I will definitely be farting into his eye and also possible into an ear. I'm pretty sure this is how you get the bubonic plague or maybe dropsy. But I'm willing to let CPS sort that out.
Every time I put my hand in a pocket, I discover an impossibly damp wad of tissues. There are antibiotic drops, pills, and liquid suspensions fighting for space in our medicine cabinet next to the mentholated cough drops and economy-sized Tylenol PM. I had to wash my favorite sweat shirt three times in a week thanks to three different bodily fluids -- two of which weren't even my fluids. If it doesn't smell like poop, puke, or bleach, then don't worry, you're not at my house.
I don't care that spring has finally arrived and that the tree in our front yard is bustling with pink blooms and bumble bees. I don't care that the breeze is warm and carries the scent of rich, teeming earth. I don't care about the giddy kids on bikes or the dads loping after them. I do, however, care about the cardinal in the tree outside of Pork Chop's nursery; if that little asshole starts chirping at 5 a.m. one more time, if it wakes my sick kid up one more time, I will grab it by it's cheery red neck and I will fart in both of its stupid bird eyes.
I cannot deal. The dog cannot deal.
Just bring us our hot toddies and go away.
I am over it. All of it. Mostly.
Being sick on and off for a month would make the best of us cranky. But toddlers, as we all know, are not the best of us. And, as such, my son has been a screaming, whining, tantrum-throwing mess. He's 14 months old. He feels terrible. We have to pour medicine down his throat or drop medicine into his eyes several times per day. I can't blame him for flinging his oatmeal at the wall or for trying to throw himself from the changing table. I can't blame him, but I don't like it either.
Except, there's this thing that he does when he's really miserable, when he's so sick that the fight has just gone out of him -- he wants me to hold him. Just hold him. He curls into my lap, drops his hot little head against my chest, and sighs like the enormous weight of his toddler life has been lifted. And I like that. A lot.
My boy is already so independent. He's assertive. He's adventurous. He'd sooner scream than laugh when he's happy. He rarely sits still. He hasn't quite mastered "gentle touch." He smacks what he loves. He smacks what he doesn't love. Today he smacked a kitchen cabinet because, I don't know, maybe it was spreading rumors about him. He also smacked me when I stopped singing "You Are My Sunshine." My mama friends have assured me that this is a typical toddler phase, but that's hard to explain to the infant my son nearly (nearly) walloped upside the fontanelle. In short: Pork Chop is not what you'd call a "cuddler." He's a bruiser and a tiny beastie and force of nature and more fearless than I have ever been in my whole life. He awes me. But he won't hug me.
So here I am, on the Internet, confessing that I take a small pleasure in my son's misery. If I could wave my magic Lysol wand and make his stuffy nose and aching ear and itchy eyes go away, I would. Lord knows I've tried. And it's not as though I enjoy waking to the sound of Pork Chop's hoarse cries at midnight. And I don't like lifting him from the crib to find that he's spiked a fever again. And I hate feeling him shiver against me as we settle into the rocker. And I'm no fan of the humidifier, humming and burbling, making it impossible for me to nod off, even as my son settles into the crook of my arm, petting my fuzzy robe, relaxing into a snore. I hate this whole month. I hate all of this sickness and discomfort. But, I'll be damned if my boy, cradled in my lap, isn't some of the best medicine I've ever had.