Happy Lent!

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Well, you can congratulate me. I have finally earned my Mommy merit badge. At least, I think I can safely say I’ve officially been inducted into “motherhood” now that all three of my kids have had the stomach flu at once. Which yes, yes, I know is hardly anything compared to some moms I know who’ve dealt with six, nine or ten kids puking at once…but that would be like an Eagle scout badge or something. I just got a badge. Numero uno, but at least I’m not sitting on the sidelines waiting for coach to throw me in the game anymore. I am in.

I really kind of dreaded getting put “in” this game. Always have been avoiding the thought of it, and kind of realllllyy enjoyed my view from the sidelines. But, it happened and now I am sorta glad in a weird way. I guess because the biggest fears you have are of the unknown, and now that we ‘know’ it….it’s not so scary anymore!

But boy. What an induction. Not what I had expected at all. Never did I yearn so earnestly for vinyl furniture in my life. Or for those awesome old school Italian plastic covered couches. Ahhhh what I would give for rubber sheets. Or rubber pants! Also, I never felt so strongly about shaving my daughter’s head.

What began as Princess waking up Sunday morning with a tummy ache and an episode of throwing up ended up turning into a live version of Family Double Dare. Without the slime. Or Marc Summers. Just a lot of bodily fluids. And Daddy.

I was inducted about three hours after Princess first threw up. She was bouncing off the wall, seemingly fine and begging me to take her to church with me. I surmised the dinner last night must not have sat well with her, and since CG had hit mass already, so off we two girls headed. It was the quietest part of mass. I had squashed myself in the only available pew, about 6 rows from the back. Next to a hefty sized lady with an even heftier amount of old perfume on.  Princess was fussing, moving all around, under my legs, under my coat…just fidgeting. And we all knelt down cozy cozy, shoulder to shoulder for the consecration.

That’s when I noticed her face looking…er.. green? I picked her up and as she coughed every siren went off screaming in my brain “run, RUN, RUN FOR IT!” And I pushed her head into my my hair that was draped over my shoulder and bolted so awkwardly obvious to the back of the church where the wonderful, God bless them ushers threw open the vestibule doors. As I came running into the vestibule I heard gurgles and I knew she was going to blow.

‘Is there a bathroom? A bathroom? She’s gonna puke!” I dashed back and forth looking for one

“Down the stairs! Go!” an usher shoved me (in the politest way possible) towards a staircase and I rushed down the stairs when it happened. I felt it explode near my right ear, and felt some slide down my skirt. I knew some of it must have landed over my shoulder onto the extremely unlucky carpeted stairs.

I burst into the bathroom and peeled her off my pea coat, which was glistening with proof that we didn’t make it. Also, her coat was covered and so was my hair. My hair that was just washed, dried and flat ironed with a watermelony Paul Mitchell product only an hour prior. It didn’t smell so watermelony any more.

An unfortunate old lady was still going in the stall next to the sink where I had sat Princess temporarily while I waited for my brain to reboot.

“Uhhh don’t come out here! My daughter just puked and I don’t know how contagious she is!” I warned my unknown victim. But my victim didn’t heed my warning and instead emerged from her protective stall with eyes bulging, mouth gaping going “ohhhh myy”.

Yep. Of all the days to go to church alone.

So that was that. Later in the day, it obviously only got worse, and more frequent. Chubs got it and he too, took the memo and made sure he christened me again. At least we were standing in the kitchen and not in a stuffed church that we don’t even belong to with a bunch of petrified people skeeving us. Guess we won’t be joining that church.

By the middle of the night, CG and I had been up 7 times before I lost count. We didn’t sleep until 4:30am because all three of them were taking turns, and everything was coming out of every which way on each of them. And we bathed them all so much, and had the washer going so often that we ran out of hot water…so that all the dirty dishes were piled on the counter waiting to be washed. And kids were crying for wanting a warm bath and wow. I just thought a funny thought to myself in the midst of all that chaos. How, when I was younger I used to think being a housewife instead of a nun was taking the easy way out. Like, I used to minimize housewifery in comparison to religious life. I thought for sure the quickest and greatest and most perfect way was that of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, of solitude, prayer, and service to others. And now, well, now….now I feel like I didn’t take the easy way at all. I think motherhood is more corporal than spiritual works of mercy, and being a parent is your Calcutta. We don’t need to seek out penance or sacrifice, it is handed to us. It is just a more earth bound way of practicing mercy, because we have to “Do unto the least of them” to our children. In a sense, at least for me, that’s a harder form of detachment! Trying to see Christ in my own kids, instead of the homeless guy in the middle sidewalk asking for change. Trying to keep a smile on my face as I change the sheets on their bed, or not weep when they’ve vomited on my new couch for the umpeenth time because “that you do unto Me”. I am by no means saying religious life is easy or that being a mother is better. But I think my perspective has changed to appreciate parenthood more. Or at least not minimize the vocation of married life as “less sure” of a way to heaven. This whole stomach flu thing did induct me into the trenches of parenthood maybe, but more importantly it opened my eyes to the treasure and greatness of this path we are on.

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6 thoughts on “Happy Lent!

  1. Oh Annemarie…..I’m so scared of my own, inevitable induction! Nuns totally have it easier 😉 I’ve always wondered what we’d do if Lucia had an accident in church….serious props to you for making it out the door! And your last paragraph is beautiful!

  2. Wow… I can almost visualize it as I saw it! Great job… I’m printing you your first official “mommy badge” to bring home. Its on the finest computer paper I could find and in BOLD colored ink!

  3. Great article, I think at one time or another every mother has had a child
    get sick in church Bennett did, and a church we didn’t belong to also.

  4. “I think motherhood is more corporal than spiritual works of mercy, and being a parent is your Calcutta.” Best line ever! Keep writing Annemarie! You speak to my mommy soul!

  5. It will get easier. Although I must admit, I’ve never had a kid puke on me at Mass. You were so close too. Giving that I know this parish well where this happened at, I painted the perfect picture of the mad dash down those steps. Before becoming a parent, the thought never occurred to me that I’d be putting my hands, arms or whatever else I could find to keep my child from puking all over the carpet, their bed, and themselves. I don’t know what’s more embarrassing: puking all over the back, or having them break a glass jar during the consecration, or having to take the kid out of the sanctuary to “discipline” them only to have my wife tell me she (& most the church) heard EVERYTHING when I sat back down in the pew with the teary eyed kid.

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