“Mom, don’t be afraid of throw-up, it’s just chewed up food that kind of looks like dog poop,” my youngest daughter says to me with a glint in her eyes as I empty a trashcan full of her sister’s vomit into the toilet.
Like most families I know, we experienced the stomach bug traveling through our house at warp speed this past winter. As parents we alternate between extreme pity for our sick children, and extreme pity for ourselves as we clean up after them.
My initial goal is to make them as comfortable as possible given their circumstances. My second goal is to contain the vomit as much as possible. I line the edges of their beds with towels as well as the floor next to the bed. I then put an industrial size trash can right next to them knowing full well that they may or may not make it to the bathroom.
The younger the patient, the harder the journey. My six-year-old had never experienced a stomach virus before, at least not one that she could remember. I slept in the extra twin bed in her room, and like a good soldier jumped up every time I heard her moan. This occurred one night in 30 minute intervals until the poor kid simply had nothing left in her system.
Then there is the nursing back to full strength, which usually includes some combination of ginger ale and saltine crackers. Finally, after a few days of TLC, their smiles and their appetites return.
The experience reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite authors, Jacquelyn Mitchard: “Some things would be too difficult if we didn’t do them out of love.”
Amanda is a reporter for WRAL-TV, the mom of two and the author of several books including one on motherhood call "Smotherhood." Find her here every Monday.