Some of you are about to gasp in horror at my detached and neglectful parenting. Others will congratulate me in complete awe of my remarkably inspiring accomplishment.
Are you ready? Here it is.
I made it 4 years and 364 days without ever sleeping in one of my children’s beds or ever having one of them sleep in mine.
And now I know why.
3:30 AM Sunday Morning: Chris and I jumped up at the jarring sounds of screaming and crying and “I NEED TO THROW UP!!!!”
Although those words can bring terror on a parent’s soul quicker than finding out that your daughter is aware of who Justin Bieber is, it IS a nice parenting milestone when your kid recognizes the need to puke before they find themselves satiating said need.
(Ali does not, yet, know who he is. I quiz her every now and then just to make sure. I live in dread of the days when I can’t get “Oh Baby, baby baby..OHHH” out of my head.)
My middle of the night horror was compounded by recalling the fact that Ali’s birthday was the next day. My mind began reeling with all of the plans that would have to be cancelled, family that would have to be called, and food that would go uneaten as I sprinted to attempt to aim the vomit into an appropriate receptacle.
As I began re-planning our weekend on the bathroom floor, Ali stood, screaming and crying, as she hunched over the toilet.
“My tummy hurts SOOO bad!!!”
Nothing happened, besides the inordinate amount of screaming and moaning.
Cue irrational fears of appendicitis. Or intestinal blockage. Or some rare and unheard of stomach disease that causes unending feelings of impending puke.
My compassion for her and my guilt over her sickness on the eve of her fifth birthday clouded my judgment.
“Would you like for me to sleep in your bed with you?”
I positioned a trash can on her side of the bed, retrieved my pillow and wedged myself between her and the wall.
Then I remembered that she was still using my childhood mattress.
As she moaned, I rubbed her back and felt my own back seize up in pain from the obviously expired mattress. I began wondering where you could buy a mattress at four in the morning…
After an hour of moaning and writhing, she finally began the descent into Vomiting Hades.
Wipe up child. Wipe out child’s hair (no point in washing it yet). Change trash bag. Wipe up vomit that missed the mark. Remove horrific trash bag before the odor makes me do the same. Get child comfortable back in bed. Try to find room for myself in same tiny bed.
I waited until Ali had been snoring for about a half an hour. I had been lying as still as possible and as uncomfortably as a Honey Badger beneath a pile of Crimson.
I very gingerly crawled over Ali and escaped to my own bed. With a refreshed sigh of contentment, I sank into the comfort of my own mattress, which made me feel more guilty about the horrible quality of Ali’s. Must remedy soon.
Right as I dozed off, crying commenced.
More vomit? OhPleaseNo.
I jumped up and sprinted into her room.
“Do you need to throw up again?”
“No! (sob) I missed you (sob) because you said you would (sniff sniff) sleep with me!”
“I’m so sorry. I couldn’t get comfortable and you were asleep. Did I hurt your feelings?”
“YES!! (shame-heaping-sob) You hurt my feelings. (sooooob) I NEED you to sleep with me – I feel really bad!!”
Now triply Guilt-stricken – by sickness, by her birthday, and by her irreparably damaged feelings, I retrieved my pillow, told Chris to get some good sleep so I that could sleep the entire next day, and headed back to my incarceration of discomfort.
Somehow I managed to doze off despite my state of being squeezed into a space that only an eight year old girl could fit in. And I am positive that it was no coincidence that I dreamed that I was Christian Siriano.
But sleep didn’t last long.
Knee to the pelvic bone.
I readjusted to escape from the violence. My right arm was stretched out above my head in a zero-blood-flow position as there was no room for it anywhere else.
Slap to the face.
I moved further. My back was halfway on her bed and halfway atop the pile of stuffed animals that filled the hole between her bed and the wall. Meanwhile, she had at least two miles between her and the other side of the bed.
Elbow to the rib cage.
I finally gave up on sleep. I lay there thinking that this must be what it feels like to be in a toothpick press. Do they make toothpicks in a press? Ooh – those pirate sword toothpicks are cool. I wonder if this is what it feels like to sleep on a Pirate Ship bunk? No…they had hammocks – that would be much more comfortable.
I peered through the doorframe. I could see daylight, but it was faint. It must be around six in the morning.
I contemplated my escape.
I leaned forward. Ali leaned up, eyes still closed.
I leaned back. Ali leaned back.
I leaned forward. She leaned up and looked at me.
I whispered, “I’m going to see what time it is. I’ll be back.”
She laid back down.
I headed into my room, where Chris was sitting in a chair. I looked at the clock.
Apparently, I sleep while compacted better than I think I do.
Epilogue: Ali is completely better, except for missing her birthday and all. A makeup birthday is in the works. No one else has caught Ali’s scurvy yet, but my Zofran and Ponytail are awaiting me – just in case.