At my house recently, we survived the flu, and I think we deserve medals. Maybe it’s because the Olympics were just on, or maybe it’s because we live in the age of the participation medal. Regardless, I think I deserve a gold for my performance and personal strength when faced with the presence of unprecedented illness. Here’s my personal, harrowing account of keeping my cool amidst much vomit.
Early Sunday morning, my oldest son came into our bedroom. I heard him come and wanted to keep him asleep, so I got up quickly and started steering him back to his bed.
“Mom, the reason I came in is I wanted to tell Dad that I thought I was going to throw up,” he said.
Let me tell you, that’s one of the worst sentences that you’ll hear as a mother. He was about to wake someone up (not me) to deal with his vomit. But here I was standing in his room early on a Sunday morning. Quickly, I grabbed his shoulders and steered him to the bathroom.
That’s where it all started. It began with two people rather nonchalantly discussing the option of vomiting early on a Sunday. Little did I know I was on a downward spiral that would culminate with the most vomit that has ever been in our house.
My oldest son started off the day with a good puke in the toilet, which had become his custom, then moved himself downstairs to the couch. After hours of watching a YouTuber named UnspeakableGaming play Minecraft, the clouds behind his eyes cleared and he began to show signs of life. He turned off the TV.
We read, played Go Fish, and took a really great nap. It was wonderful and almost like a little vacation. I was so thankful that he was feeling better so we could enjoy the second half of his day off together.
By dinner time, he was back to his old self. He ate a hamburger and some veggies and felt fine.
At bed time, my youngest started complaining of a stomach ache. Since he is working on mastering the potty, I thought it might be poop-related. He sat on the toilet and tried, but he didn’t feel better. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it when I put him to bed.
My husband tucked in our oldest and stuck around to give him some snuggles. At about 10:45, I realized we were headed for trouble.
I was sitting in bed writing. Frequently, I take my computer to bed with me for a while and write while the little one falls asleep. The big kid has always wanted Daddy snuggles, and the little one has always wanted Mama snuggles. Now, the big kid can fall asleep quite easily (this hasn’t always been the case), but the little one still struggles. I sit in bed and write while he works on it, then I come in after a while and cuddle.
Across the hall in the big kid’s bed, I heard stirring. Turning and rolling, flipping and flopping. I didn’t even have to get up to look; I knew that noise. My husband was going to be sick.
My husband finally got up out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Now, you should know that my husband is the type of guy who fully commits. Whether it’s work, his hobbies, or vomiting; he gives it everything he’s got.
He makes a loud, violent noise that makes you think he’s heaving from his toenails through the top of his head. Maybe he is. I haven’t ever watched.
When he came out of the bathroom, I decided to let him have the bed. I took my pillow and went in with the little one to snuggle up and sleep.
After being hit and shoved off the bed for about fifteen minutes, I was ready to explore other options. My husband had the pukes and the big kid was just recovering from them. I didn’t want to be too far away, but I wanted to sleep, too.
Just as I was moving to the floor, the little one said, “Mama, my tummy!”
I scooped him up and rushed to the bathroom. I guessed that he might finally be ready to poop. That was incorrect.
From his potty perch, he sprayed a constant vomit spray that I’ve only ever seen on Saturday Night Live sketches. The kicker was, just like in the sketches, it just kept coming. I felt like Steve Martin in Parenthood, just standing there with my empty hands out and shaking my head.
When all the vomiting stopped, our entire bathroom floor and everything that was on it was covered in puke. I will spare you the nastiness of describing this vomitous mess in detail, but I’ll just say that it’s a sight and smell that won’t soon be forgotten.
I remember thinking, Burn it. Can we just burn it? I mean, fire is a powerful disinfectant, right? Then, I realized that when forced with the decision of whether to clean up a floor covered in vomit or burn down a portion of our house, my first instinct was to burn down part of our house. That’s telling.
After I realized that I couldn’t burn down the house, I stripped the little one and got him in a warm bath with epsom salts. (Epsom salts are my cure-all.) Then, I started the cleaning process.
I can’t emphasize enough how happy I am that the washer and dryer, all our cleaning supplies, and all our spare rags are located off this bathroom. As I was cleaning/scooping, I heard the stirring noise in my bedroom. I was maybe only half-way done with cleaning all of the vomit off the floor when my husband came in and kicked me out.
With a kid in the tub and a husband at the toilet, I snuck downstairs to another bathroom and washed the heck out of my feet. Your skin easily absorbs germs, so I set about scrubbing my feet. When I finished, my husband was out of the bathroom.
I got back to cleaning the floor then the little one. I started the washing machine and got the little one back to bed.
After listening to my husband make regular pilgrimages to the bathroom, I had maybe just fallen asleep when the little one woke up again. He started doing the restless tossing like his dad, and I knew I was hosed.
We got to the bathroom, and I got him to face the toilet this time. All of it went in, thank goodness. After several good heaves, he was done. He brushed his teeth again, got some water, and we headed off to bed. Again.
I was trying to sleep on the floor of the little one’s bedroom. At this time, I was thinking about changing locations. With the little one vomiting, maybe I should go sleep with the big kid. Maybe he is less sick than the others.
While I was contemplating this, my husband trekked back to the bathroom. I heard a noise from my big kid’s room, so I hopped up off the floor and rushed over to him.
“Hey, is Dad okay?”
“No, no he’s not. But he will be. He has the pukes, so I need you to stay in your room far away from him. Don’t use that bathroom or anything. In the morning, I’ll get you to school as fast as I can so you can get out of here.”
He turned around and went back to bed. I tucked him in and before I left, I noticed that we still had the puke trash can sitting by his bed. I thought about taking it for the little one but decided to leave it just in case.
I heard a puke noise from the big kid’s room. It turns out that puke trash can by the big kid’s bed was a good idea. The poor guy was hanging off the edge of his bed with his face buried in the trash can. I patted his back and dumped his trash can when he was done.
After I got him all settled back in bed, I was going to go back to sleeping on the little one’s floor when it hit me. Although there had been many times where I thought I would puke out of disgust or sympathy, I hadn’t yet. I used every ounce of self-control that I had within me to not vomit.
Finally, like a mob boss coming for collection, the illness inside me demanded atonement. It had to be paid for my lack of vomiting thus far, and it wanted fluids. Luckily, we compromised on some mild diarrhea.
I didn’t want to spend any time in my germ-covered bathroom, so I went downstairs. After hanging out in the downstairs bathroom for a while, I decided to make my way back upstairs to the little one’s floor. With my new illness on top of my fatigue, I got all snuggled up with my pillow and went to sleep.
Later Tuesday Morning
Eventually, we all got up and made our way downstairs. My husband said he quit throwing up some time around 6:00 a.m. The little one didn’t throw up anymore, and the big kid only threw up once or twice after his 3:30 a.m. session.
Happily, the illness mob bosses were satisfied and no longer requirement payment.
We spread out all over the living room with various blankets and pillows and settled in for a couple days of watching UnspeakableGaming.
It took us until dinner on Friday to be able to eat a normal meal. Our Chipotle Friday dinner has never tasted so good!
I hope all of you stayed clear of this nasty flu bug. If you didn’t, I hope you and all of your loved ones recovered well.
When I’m receiving my medal for surviving the flu and not throwing up although faced with an unreasonable amount of other people’s vomit, I’ll dedicate it to all the survivors out there. For all the moms and dads who made it happen just because they couldn’t face the idea of one more person puking, this is for you. Of course, you’ll have to listen hard to hear me say it because I’ll be wearing a germ mask that covers my whole face for the rest of flu season.
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