“But why are you crying Ali?” She said, concerned with my puffy eyes and red splotched face.
“Because I’m angry at her. And I’m angry at myself, for being angry at her.”
Yesterday I was on a skype call, discussing important things like allergy and food bloggers (we are hiring some new ones—get excited!). I was lounging around with a towel on my head and a towel on my person, post-shower. I was getting some last-minute work done before a big work strategy meeting. I had been looking forward to this meeting with some amazing people for a while—as yummymummyclub grows, we have to streamline workflow—make things better, fix what’s broken.
And then the phone rang. The children’s school. Who puked, I muttered under my breath.
Needing to be picked up, looking rather green, feeling rather pukey and not healthy, not even a little bit. So, off to school I went, in the nearest sweats I could grab, no makeup, wet hair.
And then the tears just wouldn’t stop. Mine, not hers.
How is it possible that someone is sick every time I’m single parenting? How am I going to get to this meeting? How is this happening? How could she do this?
Notice I didn’t stop to wonder how she was feeling.
I was having a hard time believing that she was actually sick, you know, after this week’s wolf-crying day-off incident. With stomachs it’s hard. With a fever, you can feel it. With a cough and cold, you can hear it. With broken limbs, you can see it. With a stomachache, you just have to trust the claimer.
It hurts, she says. Full stop. With nothing actually coming out of either end, though, it’s her word against my gut (NO PUN INTENDED HERE PEOPLE). It hurts is not a very good indicator. It’s just not. My stomach hurts all the damn time. I live on Tic Tacs, TUMS, and Zantac because of a stupid hiatal hernia, and an addiction to coffee.
I called in a mother-in-law favor. Can you watch Isabella while I go to this meeting? Sure, she says. We pack up some things—her Irish bear Snuggles, her Thea Stilton book, a Target bag for possible car pukage. I’m like a boy scout, really. Also, trying to avoid car-barf clean-ups. (Read: WORST)
I cried all the way to my meeting.
Maybe there something else going on, something emotional at school that she didn’t want to talk about, that was upsetting her. She said there wasn’t when I asked, but just maybe. Maybe she was actually, really, legitimately sick. Maybe she and I have a matching hiatal hernias. She had sushi this week—maybe my hypothesis is right, maybe she actually is allergic to fish.
Maybe I was the worst mother in the world.
Because I was actually angry at her.
And then I was angry at myself, for being angry at her.
For not canceling on my meeting—MY BABY COMES FIRST—and getting into jammies and cuddling on the couch while we watch iCarly. For not getting a hot water bottle and some ice packs and making her broth or toast or tea.
A good mother does these things, right?
A good mother is on hand with towels and buckets and pedialyte.
A good mother doesn’t immediately get annoyed.
A good mother doesn’t doubt her kid.
We made homemade strawberry ice cream and she ran some errands with me and she is just finishing up some hot chocolate, she says, after my meeting, at pick-up time.
“I’m fine, Mama! My stomach is A-OK. False alarm, really. Let’s go home and have Chinese food for dinner!”
And then I cried again.