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Real-life mothering: A puke story

I am not a good homemaker by any stretch of the word. Our house vacillates between basically-cleaned-up-but-those-baseboards-need-Jesus and scene-from-Law-and-Order-where-the-robber-threw-everyboy's-shit-everywhere. I cook an actual dinner that everyone will eat MAYBE twice a week. We are not the type of family that has their shit together with stuff like that.

The other day, I was feeling a little bit on top of things. Julian's formula shipped late AGAIN, but I had actually remembered to order a similar type of formula from Amazon so that I'd have something easy to give him instead of using the blender for two days. I made an actual dinner that everybody ate. The house was looking closer to basically cleaned up than Law and Order. I started feeding J through his g-tube, feeling proud of myself for meeting the "right" motherhood milestones that day.

Halfway through his meal he did a super loud burp (my cue to automatically push him forward by the back of his neck because we've been down this road a few times by now) before projectile vomiting just like Linda Blair in the exorcist. All over his clothes. All over the rug. All over my legs. Everywhere. Thanks, bad batch of formula.

I swept his mouth with my finger (Julian can't swallow any liquids by mouth due to his medical needs; he could aspirate it into his lungs) while firmly body blocking our youngest, who was eager to touch and possibly taste the pool of vomit. My partner and I quickly divvied up responsibilities. He took Julian up for a bath while I jiggled our youngest on my hip as I simultaneously scrubbed the rug and called the Children's hospital nurse's line for advice.

The night dissolved into baths for both little boys followed by another huge puking session followed by a sponge bath for all the people and furniture involved in that second episode followed by bedtime routine for our youngest followed by making up a temporary bed on the crash pad which we dragged into the Master bedroom followed by ANOTHER call to the nurse's line followed by making and administering via g-tube a cup of weak chamomile tea that thankfully stayed down.

By 11 pm I was laying on the lumpy, uncomfortable crash pad, spooning Julian while he snuffled and snored in my ear, legs stinging from the stomach acid that I still hadn't had time to shower off (sorry if that's gross but it's the truth). I stayed like that all night, reading and sleeping a little bit, waking at the tiniest movement or noise from him because we live in fear of him vomiting in the night while we're asleep and choking on it. He wrapped his stinky sweaty gangly little boy body around me, comforted to sleep near me while he wasn't feeling well. My neck ached and my legs went numb and all the little tidying tasks and chores I had planned on completing post bedtime went undone.

This shit is Actual Mothering. It's not very instagrammable and I can't give you Ten Top Tips about it. Sometimes society and social media make me feel like this type of physical, going all day, hands on, takes every minute of your day and all the energy out of you type of mothering is not the important kind, and that I'm fucking up for not always getting to the IMPORTANT stuff. You know, the chores and home decorating and front porch staging and meticulous organizing.

But in my heart I know that that's not true.

Mamas, those messy moments with puke in our hair and their little bodies cuddled up to us for comfort, THAT'S the important stuff. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

ANYWAY, as some of you if you're also a foster or adoptive mom, or just a parent at all in any capacity might know, this shit is really hard. Being my kids' mom is one of my big life passions, and I love having that role, and I love THEM so freaking much I can't even express it. But I'm in a place currently where I am really, really struggling.

The house responsibilities (i.e. basic adulting shit like laundry and floor washing and remembering to take the trash to the curb on the correct day) are always hard for me, but lately feel impossible. It's my own issues with not being able to prioritize tasks, and my inability to focus on cleaning or organizing for long periods of time, coupled with the fact that our 5 year old is a mini tornado who cannot be left alone for 30 seconds without coating the entire downstairs in garlic salt.

I'm back at work, working from home at my little desk in our bedroom, creating an adapted online curriculum nearly from scratch while also absorbing near-daily changes to our district plan and accepting the fact that almost everything I love so much about my job is temporarily gone. Meanwhile my partner is parenting solo throughout the majority of the day. Our boys are disoriented and upset by this sudden change when they've been used to spending all day, every day, with Mama.

Our elderly cat died of sudden renal failure the other day and I'm torturing myself with thought of what I could have or should have done to prevent it being so awful for her and that whole experience was just a goddamn shit show and so unbelievably sad and emotionally wrenching for me and my oldest son, who adored her.

Being a working Mama of three kids with very different and very complex needs, during a pandemic, with constantly changing school and work requirements, while also being a healthy and present partner and maintaining a clean home...a lot of the balls are being dropped right now. Work was the final card that brought the whole precarious house down and like, I need help ya'll. I have to do something differently.

Because I really, really love my family and I want to show up as my best self for them. And for my extended family and for my friends. I am tired of feeling angry and about to snap all day long. I'm tired of feeling outside of myself, watching myself repeat the same toxic patterns every single day in my interactions and feeling too helpless to change anything.

One of my favorite bloggers wrote a post a long time ago about how as a Mama, the only person who you are guaranteed to be able to heal, to make whole, is yourself. I read and reread her post about her experience with therapy over and over again these last few years. Every time I wanted that healing that she experienced through quality therapy for myself, but every time I just wasn't ready. But I just reread that same post for the millionth time and you know what, I'm ready now.

Anyway this blog post is choppy and weird and all over the place and I'm crying a lot while I'm writing it, about my poor little cat and a bunch of other emotional stuff that I've pushed down and bottled up for a really long time, but I hope I have the balls to publish it tomorrow. Because I want anyone reading this (oh my gosh ESPECIALLY moms parenting kids from hard places cuz boy does that experience ever KICK UP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH SHIT) to know that you're okay, you're totally okay and normal, this life stuff is so super hard and we are all just figuring it out. You're okay if the messy parenthood parts don't leave you much time for those pesky adulting tasks. You're doing a good job, and it's okay if you, like me, feel like you need some extra help.

Anyway, I'm trying online therapy through they're not paying me to write that because no one pays me to write anything I'm just telling you in case you want to try it to. It's kind of expensive but it was easy to sign up and my therapist seems like a cool lady. I'll tell anyone who wants to know how it's going and who knows I might hate it but at least I'm starting somewhere. At least I'm gonna try.

This is the blog post I love so much, about the only person you can for sure heal being yourself:

So yeah, here's to trying and fucking it up and trying again. Here's to the days when we fall asleep with puke on us and here's to the days when we make a dinner everyone actually eats and feel on top of the world about it.

I think I'm doing pretty good at some stuff and pretty badly with other stuff, but I know I'm trying my best.

And I know you all are, too.

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