The fireworks started early. And in bed.

I woke up this morning with a five-year-old in my armpit, snuggled down tight and safe and warm warm warm and a husband at my back who’s still working manfully on delivering a big, healthy, happy kidney stone. The sunlight – sunlight in Oregon, folks! – stood on his tiptoes at the back of the cherry tree crowd, straining to see us, and he winked at me through the window whenever he caught me staring.

It was the Last Peaceful Moment of the day, and I’ve decided to retrospectively cherish it. I’m waving to it right now, in fact, with just my fingers, all flirtatious and young and innocent. It was a great, great moment.

Five minutes later, I was sitting in the bathroom when — KABOOM! — the fireworks started. Cai exploded like a volcano and molten rivers of vomit cascaded spectacularly down my bed.

The crowd oohed and aahed because, come on, if there’s ever a day to start with a BANG, Independence Day is it, and Cai should get a medal for Excellent Timing.

Cai ran to the bathroom which, if you recall, was where I was sitting.

I was sitting in the bathroom.

Doing what one usually does when one sits in the bathroom.

So when the pajama-clad, vomit-laced, erupting-volcano-child ran toward me, I… I rose swiftly to greet him and to make my chair immediately available for all of his chair-like needs.

You know, life throws a lot of things at mamas, usually body fluids. And it’s our job to rise to each occasion and lob the goo gracefully back. It’s like a giant game of chicken, and we see how long we can volley before life or we are covered in the mess. We know, of course, that we can’t escape the game unscathed, but, bless our hearts, we try.

I want you to know that I displayed a kind of pottying maturity today – a sort of genius of control – to which my children can only aspire. Because I rose to the occasion, and I did not add to the mess. And on a beautiful, important day like this one, I’m marking that firmly in the Win Column.

Happy Independence Day, friends.

May the sun shine brightly upon you, and may the mess be only as bad as it must.



P.S. I’m pretty sure I’m using the internet wrong. I think I’m supposed to make my life look prettier and not talk about the toilet so much. Sorry about that.

P.P.S. Whatcha doin’ today? Anything more fun than cleaning up puke and standing watch for kidney stones? ‘Cause I need some vicarious living. Help a girl out.


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13 responses to “The fireworks started early. And in bed.”

  1. I just needed to chime in to say that my daughter came down with the stomach flu on the 4th also. So I spent the day holding a feverish crying baby who threw up on me more times than I could count. I finally stopped changing my own shirt and just changed her. It was a great holiday. Hope your boy us feeling better.

  2. I had to come back, because I love how many people here and on facebook thought it was going to be about sex. Because I wouldn’t have in a million years, despite looking back and seeing how it so obviously could have been. I think that’s very telling of where my mind pretty much NEVER IS in the midst of raising 2 firecracker toddlers. (If my mind IS ever anywhere at all).

  3. 1. I thought this post would be about sex.
    2. I feared that, instead of you exhibiting Bodily Control In A Dire Situation, Cai actually puked in your unclothed lap.
    3. Five kids IS a lot of kids, because your chances of having at least one kid puking on a given day are way higher than mine with just one kid. I’d try to quantify, but your husband is, after all, a mathematician so he’d just have to correct me in i-public. Greg, feel free to provide us with some data.

  4. Oh, I’m so sorry! What a way to start the 4th of July! But kudos to you for maintaining your sense of humor despite it all! Maybe that’s what keeps me coming back to your blog–that, and your willingness to be real! We didn’t do anything to celebrate the 4th, probably because we’re living overseas, but my husband and I got to go out on a breakfast date because our awesome house guests offered to babysit our kids! And I did congratulate my husband on the 4th of July, but for a different reason than the independence of our home country. This July 4th marked the 20th anniversary of him moving overseas to Ukraine, and I think that two decades on the foreign missionfield is something to celebrate!
    I hope Cai and Greg are both feeling better soon–and that you continue to have the grace you need to be able to rise to the occasion.

  5. Haha! I am SOOOO sorry, but very well written and it did make my tiredness pale in comparison. Hope it was a one time thing? Maybe? Fingers crossed!

  6. You deserve a medal for Bodily Control In A Dire Situation – or something similar. 🙂 I hope your men feel better soon! I also hope something awesome happens to help balance out your morning.

    I woke up an hour earlier than planned from a nightmare to the sounds of high winds, my cat screaming non-stop and sirens all around… I laid in bed debating whether I could force myself back to sleep when I realized my cat was possibly trying to tell me that the neighborhood was burning down and that he would really appreciate being escorted to a safer environment. Adrenaline hit and as soon as I jumped up to check things out, I realized the sirens were from the parade on the street behind my house. Cat still screaming, I opened the bedroom door and saw him standing in the hallway… I yelled “What?!!” and he turned and calmly presented me with his butt as if to say “Good morning, it’s time for you to scratch my ass”. He is now curled up in a comfy little ball, fast asleep, while I am exhausted. Sounds about right. 🙂 As for vicarious living, I will be going to a BBQ at a friend’s house that is across the street from the local fairgrounds, so we will get a good fireworks show. I hope Cai’s “fireworks” don’t continue into the evening for both your sakes! Happy 4th of July! 😀

    • Bodily Control In A Dire Situation – yes! Can this be an award? One we can pass around to many mamas? Because, let’s be honest, WE HAVE ALL EARNED THIS.

      Jessika, I spent last evening texting my sister-in-law my plans for what I was going to pack because of the raging fire on the mountain behind our house. In retrospect, it was maybe a smallish, planned garbage burn. We agreed, in the end, that the trauma was good disaster preparedness and the adrenaline wasn’t wasted. Feel free to join me in blatantly excusing rabid paranoia… it’s easier this way.

      Happy 4th right back at you.

      • So it’s NOT just me! LOL Hope you’ve had an extended break from others’ bodily fluids and that you were able to do something fun yesterday. As for the award, I’m all for that!!! Especially if when bestowed upon the mother, it came with unlimited coffee from the place of her choice for life, at least one free massage a month for life, and the ability to freeze time for at least 15 minutes a day to finish doing whatever she had to sacrifice for the “dire situation” (or for whatever Mom wants)…. I like to think in realistic terms.

  7. That is some serious Bang! I suppose it goes to show how unprettier and toilety my own life is when I say that I was actually on edge, waiting to read whether or not you were forced to contribute to the disaster or allowed a slice of heaven and miss that form of participation. Yours is definitely a huge WIN! Oh mother… And since you were able to breathe long enough to write this, the mess is all behind, right? Those are the moments when I just think, I can get through this, one step at a time, and soon it will be OVER. First, next, last, done. Soothe & clean child. Contain him elsewhere. Clean toilet & bathroom. Clean the path he took from where he started. Clean the bedroom. When did you even get to FINISH? Hopefully right after the toilet was prepped for you again. HAHAHA!

    • It’s like you WERE THERE.

      The path. Oh, Carlie – THE PATH. From the lake of molten puke lava that was my bed to a river of vomit along the floor to the storm that splattered through the bathroom until he reached the toilet… which he reached as soon as he was done ralphing.

      But, of course, you’re right about the process. I pulled my mini-volcano, lava and all, into my lap first. And helped wipe the goo from his feet and blow it out of his nose and brush the taste from his mouth. And then I kiss kissed him on the top of his head, nuzzling my lips into his hair where he smelled the most like little boy and shampoo and less like lava. And I tried not to hurl alongside him.

      By the time we were done in the bathroom, Greg had stripped the bed. He was equal parts Kidney Stone Hero for rising to the occasion amidst the pain like we parents do… and Self-Server because he understandably was unwilling to lay there in the muck ’til I could help change the sheets… thank GOD!

      And then, after a very long time and finding more lava than I enjoyed in tiny spots all over the floor, I had a nice, restful seat. And immediately following that, I wrote. When people ask me… and they do, every day… how I find the time to write, I think, “Dear God! How would I survive if I DIDN’T? Where would the angst and the energy and the humor and the joy GO?” I suppose this makes me a writer more than anything else… SHEER NEED.

      Thank you for the prompt, Carlie. My venting was – clearly – not done. THE PATH. Ha! 😀

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