There’s something magical about nighttime parenting.  Something elemental and bare bones about it, when it’s the middle of the night, and your child is sick.  When the bed is covered in vomit, and the baby is sobbing in confusion and misery and the only thing to do, the only thing to do is be the mom, in the best and most real sense.

It was two thirty in the morning, and Day Six (or is it Seven?) of one of my kids dealing with the stomach flu.  I’ve scrubbed down the car seat more times than I can count, washed so much laundry that I legitimately fear I’ll never catch up again.  I’ve got mixing bowls strategically placed all over the house, just in case the urge to throw up hits and they can’t get to the potty quick enough.  I’ve only actually been puked on a couple of times, and  have grown inordinately proud of my five year old’s ability to run for a bucket.  But my baby, my tiny little almost two year old – she doesn’t know to reach for a bucket, and while she’s incredibly verbal, she didn’t have the words to tell me before she threw up all over the bed.  All over me.  All over her.

After a few minutes when she sobbed and retched and I rubbed her back and tried hard to keep it from getting on the king size comforter (the one too big to wash in my machine), it was over.  I stripped us both, grabbing my husband’s t-shirt and some old sweats for me, and carrying her into the living room.  I riffled thru the clean laundry basket for new jammies for her, and settled down on the couch in the dark living room.  She was still whimpering, half asleep, horrified and confused.  I snuggled her down in a blanket and nursed her.  Grateful, because at two years old, she’s still nursing and I knew that it would calm her down and she’d be able to keep breastmilk down even if she couldn’t keep down the chicken and broccoli I’d fed her for dinner.

It was just the two of us.  The birds were starting to sing outside, and the room was dark enough so I couldn’t see the clutter of toys and books on the floor.  I was able to just be for a while.  To hold my baby girl when she was sick, when the only thing in the world that would make her world right was to be right here, in my arms, with her long eyelashes casting shadows on her cheek and her big, big eyes looking up at me.  That, right there, that moment, that’s what makes me grateful for the middle of the night puke-fests of parenting.  Sure, it’s messy and today, I can’t drink enough coffee to keep my eyes all the way open – but I know that last night is a night that I’ll remember when she’s five years old and tells me I’m the worst mother in the world, and when she’s nine and rolling her eyes at me when she thinks I’m not looking.  I’ll remember when it was just she and I, a dark night, with birds chirping and big, big eyes gazing up at me.

23 thoughts on “Will it ever end?

  1. Melissa, you are a talented writer, and a great Mommy! Parents & kids very seldom remember these times, but, truly, these make the other times worth it all!, Aimee

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  2. Ohhhhh this is so sweet, I love it. Just last night I was up four times with my sweet 7 month old baby girl who is experiencing the horror of teething. Frustrated at first, as I rise out of bed over and over, but once I get into her room and see the look of relief wash over her face when she sees her mama… I can't stay annoyed. I held her, rocked her, I stared at her. Trying to cement this moment into my memory bank to look at in the future. I want to remember the look on her face, the smell of her baby-shampooed head, the soft whimpers… all of it.

    Treasures.

    Great post!

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  3. Beautiful. Thank-you. I have found a lot of beauty in the night-time parenting as well. Especially in those early weeks when visitors were always present and my one-on-one time with him was limited.

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  4. The ability to soothe when all else fails is so special, isn't it? My 15 MO had a stomach bug the night before last and as we sat there in a room that smelled like barf, in gross clothes, I was thankful he still nurses too because miraculously, that stays down at least a little.

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  5. I agree. There's something empowering about being able to stomach (no pun intended) these sick moments. I never knew what I was capable of until I had sick babies.

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  6. Oh man, it seems so wrong to say that this post was beautiful but it truly was. I've had that moment too and I cherish it even though I was covered in puke. It's amazing how a mama's heart works, isn't it? Great post.

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  7. This gave me chills. And not just because of the vomit. Ha! You managed to turn the stomach flu into a beautiful thing…a rare feat and a testament to your writing skills. Lovely post.

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  8. When I think of night-time parenting, I think of those times when I woke up to see to my son when he was sick, too. The one thing I remember is how I can't handle puke, but when I had to strip the bed and clean up my son, it didn't matter. All that mattered was trying to make him feel better.

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  9. Nothing tests a parent like a stomach virus. The worst thing is when parent and child suffer from it at the same time. Been there. Hopefully they'll be clear of it soon and life can get back to the normal hectic. Here's hoping you don't catch it.

    WG
    http://itsmynd.com

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  10. great writing. reminded of a vacation when – with a 3 hr time change – i had my one-year-old to myself form 4am to 7am every morning. we watched the sunrise, and while at the time i couldn't believe no one else took a turn, now remembering it, it is a favorite memory of mine from when she was so small.

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  11. Ohhhhhh – beautiful. What a perfect description of an ordinary mom-moment to show how powerful just being a mom is. Beautiful!

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  12. I just went through this with my 15 month old. It was heart breaking but beautiful in the way he needed me. I slept in the living room with him as well until the early morning hours.

    Great post, beautiful writing!

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