I’m wiping her eyes slowly, first one, then the other. Cricket’s tiny eyelids are squeezed shut as if for dear life, and her enviably long eyelashes are exaggerated. The yellow goop is rubbing away slowly, and I can see my littlest there, somewhere behind the sickness, beginning to emerge. Over the past days she’s mostly vacillated between crying, “My eyes! My eyes!” and “I’m going to throw up!” and I’m eager for Cricket to return to her usual Smiles self.
Emma Vance is next to us on the bed, deceptively happy. She’s not one for warning of impending vomits like Cricket is, and so I look at her for a moment, holding my breath and studying her face. Is she a little green? Is her breathing calm? Is she holding her belly because it hurts or because it’s comfortable? The past week has made me more aware of my children’s mannerisms, which is a strange upside to this terrible, horrible, no good week we’ve been having. I only wish I could stare at them constantly, continually discerning what they’re going through; it sure would’ve been helpful at the doctor’s office yesterday. After the never-ending stomach bug had (seemingly) finally subsided, Cricket spent the night screaming that her eyes hurt (see above) and awoke with the classic yellow goop of pink eye. We took the first available appointment with the pediatrician — at 4:15 — and were handed a prescription to help her bacterial conjunctivitis by an empathetic doctor. We said our goodbyes, and as she left the room, I turned back to my children and was met with a front-full of projectile vomit. Emma Vance continued to vomit all over the exam room, herself and me until she was as done and as empty as possible. Par for the course, I suppose. Stripped down to her skivvies, clothed in the one dress-up outfit that I happened to have in my rental car, shoeless and freezing, I have to drag her to fill Cricket’s prescriptions with me. The pharmacist takes one look at my oddly-dressed preschooler, my goopy-eyed toddler and my I’ve-been-crying swollen face and says as he peers over his reading glasses, “So I guess you’ll be waiting on this one?” Yes, yes, I will.
So now I’m searching E.V. for signs of nausea and decide she’s fine for a moment as I run to the bathroom. I lather my hands thickly and quickly. When E.V. was new to the world, I was obsessed with clean hands, and I smile just a little bit thinking about how those OCD things wear off as you add more children to the mix. The smell of thieves oil soap — of cinnamon and cloves and oranges — fills the bathroom for the millionth time over the past few days. I know it’s what’s been keeping me healthy while my girls have suffered, but I can’t stand it anymore. It might just be that despite the 579 loads of laundry I’ve done lately, I can’t seem to separate the smell of throw up from the smell of soap anymore. It feels like my house will smell and feel like an abandoned asylum for black plague quanrantinees forever.
The phone rings, and I run to dry my hands, hopeful for good news, but ready for a(nother) fight. After my accident on Monday, AAA towed my car to the wrong place (46 miles away to the middle of nowhere Georgia), and madness ensued over the last two days as I tracked it down. There has been mishap after mishap — enough for me to wonder what I ever did to the Universe to be given so much backlash at once — but was happy to hear that my car finally made it to the right shop (4 miles away in the middle of suburban Georgia) this morning, only to discover that the tow truck driver didn’t bring my keys with the car. I’ve spent almost an hour on the phone with AAA today trying to get my keys to my car, and this call should be a supervisor. It is. Unfortunately she’s as incompetent as the others I’ve spoken to, and I can feel my past self welling up inside me. I. Have. Had. It. I’m a different person than I was in my younger years, softer and more understanding. Time and being married to Ryan has changed me — for the better. But I can feel Past Talie inside me like a caged and angry lion — and I let her loose.
There are calls for common sense, arguments made with lawyer-like precision, refusal to bend, words turned to my advantage, raised voices, and, finally, an acceptable resolution (I will have the keys couriered to the correct place; AAA will reimburse me). This, of course, was after the kindness, pleading and pity (as Cricket barfed while I was in the heat of talking to one of the first reps) hadn’t worked one iota. I hang up the phone with a deadpan “bye” and am exhausted. This week has had me, and I am done. DONE. I can clean up no more vomit; I can deal with car issues no longer; I can wipe eyes/noses/hineys no more. DONE.
But then E.V.’s crying for me, and that feeling of being “done” is gone. “She scratched my eeeeeeyes!” Noooo! The worse thing than having a kid with pink eye is having TWO KIDS with pink eye, especially since I’ve been waiting a month for my LASIK surgery — which is scheduled for tomorrow. And so I separate my little girls, one sobbing, one grinning and proclaiming, “I bonked her! I bonked her!” and proceed to clean up the mess of our lives yet again. Eyes washed, ointment applied, hands scrubbed…the things my current life is composed entirely of these days.
And the phone rings.
Enter the hallelujah chorus, the triumphant drums of the king’s army coming to rescue the almost-snuffed-out front line besieged in war, the knight in shining armor surging past the fallen dragon. Ryan is home! I can feel the weight lifting. I have my love home, my partner-in-the-trenches. It’s funny how the people in your life can lighten the mood with even just their presence, and I can feel the bad week waning instantly. It may not be over (who can tell?), but the day is better for sure. It’s as if a fog has been lifted, and suddenly I’m excited for the first time in a while. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel — a non-vomiting, goop-free, new car-smelling light — and I can’t wait. This mud-puddle of a week is over; I demand it to be. I’m ready to be healthy and happy — and to see clearly (literally and figuratively) tomorrow…if I can manage to make it through the next 24 hours goop- and barf-free. #squadgoals #LASIKhereicome