Monday, October 1, 2012

Clean Toilets and Silver Linings

A morning like this is the perfect time to sit down and write.  I did not sleep much last night.  Between Noah sniffling all night with the newest wave of his six-week virus/cold or whatever it is, the cat vomiting up a furball on the rug at the bottom of the staircase, my growing pregnant belly causing me to need to turn over like a pig on a spit every half hour, or finally, literally, the pack of coyotes howling and yipping at the back of our property at 4 a.m., there was no rest to be had.

I, too, have had this cold/virus for four weeks, only Noah's has really been more like a cold, with sniffles and a cough, while mine has run some other alien gamut of symptoms.  I remember the exact day after Noah had it for two weeks, that I, after being totally vigilant all that time prior, inadvertently finished off his strawberry smoothie.  As I set the cup down I thought, "I can't believe I just did that.  I'm done for."  Sure enough, three days later, I began a 7-day stint of a burning sore throat and laryngitis.  Followed by a week of congestion so solid that I could not budge it and I could feel my heartbeat in my eyes because of the sinus headache.  Followed by a week of my sinuses draining, my ears making noises like crumpling up paper every time I blew my nose, and a racking cough.  Which takes me to last week, and today, when I still sound all nasally and have a nagging throat clearing and utter exhaustion with the Whole Thing.

Ah September, the start of school for my husband and son, and also my busiest consulting month of the year.  I am not quite clear how I made it through all of my commitments this month.

I do not see myself as a complainer.  But the last five months the whiner in me has been waving her flag to beat the band.  Did I mention that when Noah was first sick with this thing back in August after attending summer camp for a week, Matthew injured his neck and couldn't move for a week?  With me still dry heaving daily as I had throughout the Summer of Pregnancy Sickness, that was when I first started referring to my family as the Bad News Bears.  To think that I could be the one taking care of everyone else at that time, when I'd spent so many days lying on my back and asking myself if this pregnancy would ever, ever feel worth it, it didn't seem possible.  On my better days, I would ruefully say to friends, "I think my family is spread a little thin at the moment."  On the other days, well, whiner flag-waving.

I used to have a jean jacket when I was a teenager, with saying buttons all over it.  Another way I emulated my big sister, who had the same but maybe it was a vest, and was definitely way cooler, as was she.  Anyway, when I graduated college and began working, I transferred several of the buttons to the ceiling of my car just above the visor, to cheer me up when I'd had a rough day at work.  My favorite one remains "It's been lovely, but I have to scream now."  This so perfectly sums up my flight response when things are going against the grain of my desires.  About 4:30 this morning I was trying to think of where I could possibly go if I just got in the car and drove away.

I had a day two weeks ago in the midst of this flu thing, when I realized the pregnancy sickness was gone.  I came downstairs with the dawning joy that I was not going to be throwing up any more.  I was also getting over the shock and frustration of being totally sick with the flu at the end of months of the other sickness, so had a bit more of a sense of humor than had recently been the case.  I threw my arms up in the air and said to Matthew, "We're habbing a baby and it's godda be so great!" 

I was in the bathroom that morning, not being sick, and suddenly noticed how sparkling the toilet was - it was a twisted revelation.  All of the time I'd spent that close to the three toilets in my house all summer had resulted in them being the cleanest they've probably ever been, and likely will ever be again.  I flashed to late July, when I was at my sickest, vomiting and dry heaving at points all day long, and the moment when I saw a line of dust on the top edge of the wood trim at the bottom of the wall behind the toilet tank.  I thought, "Well, that's not staying there."  That's probably the most tasteful to mention of the things I noticed and cleaned in my bathrooms this summer. 

Perhaps it was just me finding control when so much of the rest of my summer days were completely out of my control, but at this moment it feels like something more than that.  And I can't say that I know exactly how it adds up to helping me get through today.  Having such clean toilets definitely does not put me alongside the cheerfully satisfied women in commercials.  However, it does remind me somehow that there must be a silver lining to this exhausting virus, and to Noah being sick so long, and to me wanting so much to create a space for our new little bundle and having no energy to do it...  Something I will notice, later today or someday, that will make last night and the past weeks less bitter, more funny, and more able to take as just one sip of this wonderful life.