Thursday, April 17, 2014

True Love

I've been a mom for fifteen years as of yesterday. I have four kids. What does all this amount to? A lot of puke.

Vomit, throw-up, puke - whatever you want to call it, I have spent the best years of my life dealing with it. It's been everywhere. Beds, cars, new carpet, right next to the toilet (a personal fav), on my person, and on my children. And, like mothers everywhere, I have done my duty. I have choked down the gag reflex, pushed through the smell (oh, the smell!), and cleaned up mess after mess. (I'd throw in 'without complaint' here, but I do strive for honesty...)

Have you ever noticed that each kid has their own puking personality? My youngest, for instance, is of the silent-but-violent variety. One minute she's sitting there peacefully, and the next - well, you get the picture. And the worst part? Even when she's actually throwing up there's no sound. You know that pre-puke cough that can wake any mother from a dead sleep? The one that has you on the run before your conscious brain has even registered what's going on? Ya. No pre-puke cough for number four. After years of dealing with the no-warning aftermath, I've decided that God gave kids that cough for a reason, and any time I feel like he doesn't love mothers I immediately think of the pre-puke cough that has saved me from so many vomit-disasters, and know that I am loved.

I bring all of this up because my children are getting older. They no longer vomit on their way to tell me they might need to vomit, because they're now all smart enough to head straight for the toilet. I can't even remember the last time I had to deal in puke, and I am so, so, grateful.

And then last night happened.

It was C, my ten-year-old. He got sick. He had pains. He wasn't sure which end would be affected, so I gave him a bowl and sent him to the bathroom. He threw up, assured me it was just a little, and looked so much better that I was sure the crisis had passed and gave him the following instructions: dump the bowl into the toilet and then put it in the laundry room sink. I told him I'd take care of it when I was done doing whatever very-important thing I was doing.

Then he threw up again.

The good news? He was self-sufficient enough to go fetch his bowl from the sink in time to make it back to the toilet (he required coverage on both ends.) (Is that too much information? Sorry...). The other good news? He was so self-sufficient that he didn't even tell me he'd thrown up again until after he'd taken care of things.

Now for the bad news: He forgot the order of operations for puke clean-up.

In his defense, he knew there was a problem as soon as the contents of the bowl filled the bottom of the sink and failed to go down the drain... That's right, people, instead of dumping into the toilet and rinsing in the sink, he went straight for the sink. Which had other stuff in it. Stuff that was now floating around in the usual flotsam that happens when a ten-year-old loses the contents of his stomach. And you know what? I couldn't do it.

Maybe it's been too long, maybe there's just been too much vomit in my life, but for whatever reason, I looked in that sink and knew that I didn't have it in me to clean it up. I didn't even know this could happen to someone who had suffered through the pains of labor and child-raising, but apparently it's possible to hit a wall - the Puke Wall, we'll call it. The wall which stands as an impenetrable barrier between a mother and her ability to clean up puke.

This is where the true love comes in.

My husband was innocently sitting in the family room, watching a movie and minding his own business. I looked at him, felt a brief, fleeting moment of guilt, successfully suppressed it, and proclaimed the following:

me: Honey? I've been cleaning up puke for fifteen years. I can't do it anymore, so this one is on you.

him: (brief moment of silent staring as if he's not quite sure he understands the language I'm speaking, and then, miraculously,) Okay.

He said okay. Not only that, but unlike the 'Okay,' that really means, 'Sure I will...eventually...if you don't get to it first because you can't stand waiting for me to take care of it,' this was the real thing. In other words, it was accompanied by action, and he immediately got up from the couch and took care of the sink.

And when he was done he even shrugged off my thanks as if it hadn't been a big deal. As if. This was the singular most big-dealish thing any husband that I know of has done for his wife in a long, long, long time. I mean, technically, I found the puke, I was over-seeing the 'process', so I should have been on duty for clean up. Right?

But he did it. Immediately and without complaint. This is True Love at it's greatest, and to every woman who will someday hit the Puke Wall, may your husband also show such unconditional True Love, and save you from one puke too many.