I haven’t been here in a month. It wasn’t exactly my choice. You know how sometimes you just get incredibly sick out of the middle of nowhere, and then your life screeches to a grinding halt, but everyone else’s lives continue? You know, because you aren’t the center of the universe, even though it feels that way when you are a wife and a mom of and you are sick? Well, that is what happened to me. Then I got better, and that was great, until realized I had approximately five weeks of “life” that had gone undone while I was sick. Once that sank in, my first instinct was to climb back into bed and pull the blankets over my head, because everyone knows that the looming, piled up responsibilities of daily life can be easily blocked out by a quilt.
I’m luckier than most. During my month-long convalescence, I had my mother, father, and my mother-in-law taking turns stepping in to take care of my little guy while the hubs was at work. At night, my husband was on duty the second he walked in the door from work, and he was a darn good sport about it. He didn’t have a lot of choice, since I was confined to bed, but he chose to have a good attitude about it and that made the whole situation much more bearable. I salute you, mom, dad, mom-in-law, and husband, who all pitched in to do the important job of child rearing while I was unwell. Specifically a salute to my husband, who had to be mama and dada each day after work.
I am unbelievably grateful for the help I received. It wasn’t even help, it was people doing my job because I could not. Of course, it is also my husband’s job to raise our kid, so I don’t want to undermine him by making it sound as though he emerged from the shadows like Deep Throat, and heroically stepped up to care for our son while I was sick. He’s always there, and always involved. Whether I am sick or well, he is a hands on, very involved and very present father. But in this situation, it was all him, all night, every night, for a month. He deserves some credit for that. Maybe I will write him a nice thank you note.
One day, I was finally better and I had been given the all clear to return to daily life. I emerged from the bedroom to find a scene similar to what Rick Grimes encountered when he left the hospital in Atlanta, before he knew that the zombie apocalypse occurred while he lay in a coma. A thick layer of dust covered most of the fixed objects in the house. I say fixed, because there was no dust on the toys, the toys that were scattered and thrown and littered throughout my home as though I had not meticulously placed labeled baskets in EVERY FREAKING ROOM to contain said toys while they were not in use. The refrigerator contained milk, pickles, jam with mold growing on it, cottage cheese that had expired weeks before, a half empty can of olives, and that one beer someone left here on New Year’s Eve, long before E was born. It’s in a pretty awesome bottle, and sort of looks like a olde-timey jug the pirates might have swilled mead from on the high seas way back in the day. I feel pretty convicted that the bottle has earned it’s place and should probably not be disturbed. It’s a respect thing.
Every pillow, cushion, and blanket in the house was gathered in one giant pile in the living room. Apparently as I lay in bed recovering, my boys were shouting, “Pillow pile!” and leaping from the couch into all of our home’s squishy objects. Even the pillows that go on the couch that nobody likes, because they are too scratchy to lay your head on, but that get to stay because they are pretty and go with the overall decor. Even they were in the pillow pile, although sort of stuffed near the bottom for support because they are kind of stiff, and also no jumpers would have to actually encounter their scratchiness. It was a wise architectural move.
Toilets. They need to be cleaned more than once a month. This had not happened, and our toilets were growing things. I don’t know what exactly, but I imagine it would be similar to the experiments you do in biology class junior year where you use petri dishes to try to grow different kinds of mold. I remember how cool it was when I came in the next day to 4th period advanced bio, and my petri dish had developed mold. I had made that happen, and it was cool. Now, twenty years later, my toilets were growing mold, and I had made that happen, too. At 35, it is considerably less cool to analyze the different hues and fuzz levels that mold can bring. Remember that kids-your peak mold growing years are in your teens. Use them well.
So, I drank it all in and felt what I would probably describe as mid-level despair welling up inside of me. But then, charging around the corner and running towards me, right through the middle of the household neglect, was my beaming almost 3 year old. “Hi Mama!” he shouted excitedly, seemingly thrilled and a little shocked to see me upright. Looking at him, it was easy to see why spiders had set up webbed colonies in the corners of my living room ceiling and were probably planning total domination at that very minute. My little dude was happy, healthy, and ready to take on the world. While I may have missed a month of life being ill and then recovering, the world had continued to turn for my big boy. And the people I trust most in the world made sure that it did exactly that. I’m just glad they had their priorities straight, and devoted their time and energy to maintaining normalcy for my son. For that, I will gladly surrender control of the living room to my new Spider Overlords.