I spent this weekend alone with the baby in relative peace while the mister and two older kids went hunting in eastern Oregon. I had a cold and a migraine, but I was able to take good care of myself and get better enough to manage the Cheadle Challenge Adventure Run, although not very well. (By the way, if you are on Facebook blabbing about how you have a migraine, you do not have a migraine. If you have your face smashed in the pillows of your couch trying not to puke while your one year old dances on your back, you're getting warmer.) But I finished the run, and had a good time, so we'll call that a win.
|trying not to slip with muddy hands|
|What? Don't you leap over fire on the weekends?|
|Jessica - my neighbor and fellow Target |
Sadly, my family did not shoot anything to fill up our freezer, but they did catch and bring home a kamikaze stomach virus. Of the fifteen or so people on the hunting trip, every.single.one. caught the bug from the infected person (who will remain anonymous in the interests of that person's physical safety). I was sitting cozily on the couch, finishing up The Return of the King, when my family burst in the door. Ava headed straight for the bathroom. Grant apparently had to stop twice along the pass to take care of his own stomach. (It's a good thing he didn't wait to make the drive until the next day, as planned.) I'll shorten the story and just say that the puking continued through the night and into the better part of the morning. My kids were thoughtful and took turns getting me up, except for one time when they were both throwing up simultaneously. That's pretty extraordinary when you consider the number of incidences involved. Yuuu-uuck.
And thus I spent my birthday emptying bowls, wiping faces, changing linens, and shampooing carpet. I thought about last year's birthday, which I can't even remember in the fog of a small baby and the brittleness of lingering post-partum depression. I thought about the incredible changes in my life over the past year, and how most of them aren't even noticeable from the outside. I thought about this past New Years Eve, and how desperately I wanted real, deep, heart change for myself, and about the months that followed when I fumbled for a foothold upward.
And I thought about how it probably was unfair to spend my birthday taking care of others, but all I felt, I realized, was joy. I held my daughter's hair, helped her clean up, and touched her pale, beautiful face, and I was so thankful to be right where I was. I thought about the years ahead when I won't be able to offer much comfort against a world of sorrow, and I was so grateful for that moment when I could be there for my daughter in a way that mattered.
I am so very human, and I did grumble today. A child knocked blocks into a bowl that had been used for, um, emergencies; those blocks became a new mess to clean up, and I complained. The children started to feel better enough to bicker a little bit, and my patience wore thin. A baby woke up too early while I was trying to steal sleep, and I grew snappish.
Underneath, though, I didn't really lose that peace, and I realized - this year of hard practice of the habit of gratitude has changed me more deeply than I dared hope. Gratitude changes everything. I carried the carpet cleaner in from the garage, and caught my husband's eye as he weakly smiled 'thank you.' Warmth. I smiled at this house full of love that is mine.
The children recovered enough to eat some dinner, and as we sat together, Wyatt commented on the number of times he threw up last night: "and I would throw up, and Mama would come and get me a wipe and take care of me. And I would throw up again, and Mama would come again, and she was awake all night!" My heart overflowed with the simple gratefulness of my small son.
My neighbor brought me dinner tonight, along with flowers, cake, sparkling cider. She is a busy mama with plenty on her own plate, and I found this so incredibly sweet. Even sweeter. . .I did not tell her about our sickness. She heard it from someone else and informed me she would be bringing dinner. Such a blessing. And kind birthday greetings via various electronic messaging means. More joy.
A friend wished me "a day full of many blessings" on my Facebook page, and that, dear friends, is exactly what I received.