Friday morning, I got a call at 6 am. I jokingly texted my mom instead of answering. I made some crack about early morning phone calls meaning bad news in our family. She didn’t answer, so I called her back, and she told me that my Grandma, her mother, had died. Unexpectedly, of a heart attack, completely out of nowhere. There are other people with failing health where the news would have been painful but understandable. This blindsided me. I hate that my mom always has to make those calls, has to listen to people on the other end break down, hear Ben wake up in a panic from the sobbing, hear me choke it out to him, all while she is hundreds of miles away. Numbly, I got ready for school, went through the motions of all the other things that needed attention (a school day for my students, a baby shower for a good friend), but I was on autopilot, constantly checking my phone for updates on who knew, who had made it down to Florida, who was with my Papa.
While I was using my prep to gather substitute materials in case I needed to be with my family over the weekend, I got a text from Milo’s daycare that he had a low fever, was acting strange, not eating or drinking…my heart gave a little squeeze. Milo has never really been sick before. I left, scribbling instructions for the rest of the afternoon, feeling a pang of guilt that others had to scramble to help me scramble. When I got there, I could tell Milo wasn’t himself. The TV was on to his favorite show, and he was spacing out, facing the other direction. It was the beginning of a long, four-day introduction to the world of sick kids.
I’ve been manically questioning/reporting about Milo’s health all weekend on Facebook and Twitter, so I’m not going to bore you with another breakdown here, but basically, we were in and out of hospitals all weekend, calling doctors and getting conflicting reports, sitting in steamy bathrooms, spending a lot of money to hear “try to keep him comfortable and give him ibuprofen” many times, and dealing with a sad/whiny/croupy little mess day and night. Today is Tuesday, and I’ve been home with Milo since 2pm on Friday. He was given steroids in the ER on Sunday and is much. much better, although the ‘roids are making him so weird that I had to keep him home one more day before I could send him to daycare without feeling like a monster. We’ve destroyed the paint job in his room with a humidifer mishap, and I’ve washed about 10 loads of germy laundry.
I’m pretty wiped out from the past few days. I feel guilty because I don’t want to be home anymore. I packed lunches and was completely prepared for us all to go back to work today, but I knew in my deepest mama heart that he wasn’t ready to be in someone else’s care. I feel guilty because I miss my students. Being away from them for two days is hard; I keep thinking about the things I want to be working on with them, and how weird it must be to walk in to a different substitute every day after I already bounded out on Friday afternoon. I feel guilty because our new assistant principal sees me leave at 3:50 every day, run out of work two hours before the weekend, call out repeatedly. I feel guilty because between bereavement days, professional development, personal days for scheduled doctors appointments, and holidays, I don’t think I’ll have a full week with my sweet students until almost November. I feel guilty because I haven’t been able to process my grandmother’s death. Because the rest of the family is reeling and I keep sending updates about Milo’s cough and it’s just not what is most important.
I feel like an ass because my 11-month-old is hurting my feelings. After I have trucked him to numerous doctors, stayed up all night several nights listening to him breathing, researched dosage for ibuprofen, warmed him broth to get him to keep something down, called in to work several times, cancelled my birthday weekend plans to keep him comfortable…he wants Daddy. Needs Daddy. Lunges out of my arms to get away from me so he can finally relax once hes with Daddy. He’s alllllll about Daddy. And it hurts. It’s very stupid, because I should be grateful that someone can calm him. Because I don’t love my son so that he’ll me back; I love him because it’s my most important job. For the rest of my life. No matter what.
I need to close by saying that I have been SO supported and given so much love over the past five days. Friends texting me, rushing into my classroom just to give me huge hugs, sending flowers, offering food, answering frantic questions on Facebook, patiently tolerating my venting and freaking out, giving advice, and just telling me, “It’s going to be okay.” In the frame of the world, my problems are tiny blips. But no one ever reminds me that to my face in the middle of a ranting panic attack. And for that, I am grateful.
I told Ben this morning, “I think I’m finished feeling sorry for myself.” My jobs right now are: reach out to my family, give love where I can, get organized for the my grandmother’s memorial. Do my grad paper, answer discussion questions, and organize plans for school next week. Stay awake for an entire horror movie with my patient husband (who hears things like “I’m just overwhelmed and I need to sob right now, but DON’T STOP HUGGING ME!” more often than is fair), write some thank you notes. Reschedule some doctor’s appointments, make a list for Milo’s birthday party. Remind myself that this is my blessed, wonderful, miracle of a life, that I have things people would give anything for, and, most importantly, I can do hard things.
*Thank you for reading, for supporting me, for loving me exactly as I am, and being a part of my weird and wild existence. I’m so proud that I’m surrounded by people like you. You know who you are.
**Image by Laura George of Etsy, click for a link!