It’s quickly approaching 1 am. I am sitting on the floor in the living room, surrounded by a sea of towels. A stack of clean. A stack of dirty and a stack of—I am not even sure at this point. Emily is leaning her head on my chest, and we are covered in a big towel. The sound of the washer and dryer faintly hums in the background. The Wiggles project from the television in Emily’s line of vision. Todd and Justin tapped out hours ago. Even Ben has exited the scene to snuggle on the sofa with Coco. I am exhausted and frustrated. It isn’t supposed to be like this, is the useless thought swirling through my mind.
The weekend was full of fun and friends. I reunited with The Country Kickers on Saturday night. (I bet you didn’t know I am a retired dancer?) In 2007, on my quest to make new friends (more on that: Grief Within the Beauty), I discovered line dancing again. I experienced a long pause from hobbies for several years after the kids were born. It was great to get out and do something for me after so many years. This new hobby introduced me to the world of dancing for an audience. The Country Kickers danced at the local summer fairs, and we also performed for veterans, seniors, and children. I made new lifelong friends. They accept, support, and encourage me, and they embrace Emily completely. They have become my extended family.
On Sunday, Todd and Emily had backyard projects to begin. I was heading to meet up with a large group of We Are Brave Together moms. Our first Friendsgiving celebration was about to go down. The sun was bright, and my mood was light. I relished an afternoon of fellowship and delighted in the community of moms that understand the struggles and joy in this crazy, unexpected journey.
I arrived back home to a quiet house. Todd and Emily were on a mission to Home Depot to get extra supplies. The ones you never know you are going to need the first (or second) time you go to the store. I seized the opportunity to just relax on the sofa with the pups and play a little Word Crush. I began planning my weekly writing. I think I will do something light and whimsical. I was feeling young and carefree after a weekend of laughter, good food, games, and even a gratitude circle—Yes, our group of We Are Brave Together moms wrote gratitude cards. We placed our gratitude notes in a jar. The best part was pulling out the cards and reading them aloud.
Did I mention I got a book in the mail today from a friend? Receiving mail on a Sunday was unexpected. The gift from a friend capped off a perfect weekend. The book entitled Watering the Soul is full of poetry and prose by Courtney Peppernell. My joy cup was not only filled to the tippy top but spilling over the edges a bit.
As I got Emily ready for bed, I noticed her nose was runny, and she was beginning to sound a little hoarse. I figured the Santa Ana winds were aggravating her allergies. I put her to bed and texted the new caregiver that was planning to start on Monday. I wanted to confirm and answer any questions. By the time I hit send, the coughing had started. It was loud, violent, and unrelenting. Oh no! Todd and I bolt into the bedroom to find Emily vomiting. Her bed, bears, and hair were covered. And so it begins…
As I lower my sleepy, sick baby girl into the tub, I begin to feel my mood sink. I hold back tears. My grand plan of moving Self-care Sunday to Saturday this weekend to adapt did not go as I imagined did it? I comb out the chunks of vomit from Emily’s long locks as I comfort her. Todd begins stripping the bed and assessing the damage. Justin is on the hunt for another waterproof pad for the bed. The washer starts chirping, and the dogs are pacing.
The bed is ready once Emily’s tummy calms down, but I know it will be hours before she is ready to rest and relax. More laundry and outfit changes will follow. The washer will be working overtime. I did manage to secure Emily’s hair to prevent it from getting caught in the crossfire of the episodes that followed. A small victory on a dark night. Emily and I sit on the floor, surrounded by the smell of eucalyptus and lavender that is emerging from all of the diffusers. I text the new caregiver to cancel and make a mental note of other things to cancel in the morning. In the darkness, listening to noises all around me, my joy bubble bursts.
As darkness falls on the day, and I write before the sun comes up, I reflect on the unpredictable journey. I planned to write all things whimsical this week, and now my thoughts are woeful. There is no whimsy in sight. I know the woes will soon pass. I will rise up grateful for another day. I will water my soul (thank you Kimberly) and begin to refill my joy bubble, but first, sleep.