On Sunday afternoon, about ten days ago, the boys were napping, and I was at the dining table crying. Telling my husband how awful it felt to put them in daycare/preschool for nine or more hours a day. Telling my husband how much I hate the occasional travel I do for work.
My husband kindly said, "They are thriving. You do not have to feel bad, love."
I replied, "Maybe they are okay, but maybe I am not. Maybe I need to spend more time with them."
Then, about thirty minutes later, I was getting in a car to the airport for a work trip to Houston. That Tuesday night, I was home again.
Wednesday morning, before the sun was up, before I was willing to get out of bed, my husband dropped Squish in my bed as he left for work. Squish, Bug, and I were a little pile of cuddles and jokes and giggles.
Then, Squish barfed. Everywhere.
I'm not sure if anyone out there has ever had a one-year-old throw up on you and your bed while you are lying in it. It's the "lying in it" that really presents a challenge. I struggled to get the barfy covers off of me and roll out of the bed while Squish was heaving. I scooped up my barfy Squish - got him to the toilet - and let him finish his sad business. When he was done, he was standing by the toilet, in pajamas covered in vomit, moving his mouth like he couldn't believe how awful that felt, and he started to cry. I undressed him and put him in a warm bath and added injustice to injury by washing his hair. My poor, dear, sad little Squish.
Within an hour, he was in great spirits, eating cereal Os, and it was as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened that morning.
So . . . I took the boys to daycare/school, and I went to work. The thing is, I had a meeting at nine. And more meetings and phone calls all day. And I wouldn't have been able to do them from home with a toddler bouncing around - yes, he was bouncing by the time we left for the day. And the last time I had needed to stay home with Bug because he was sick, I had to take a vacation day. And my new job gives me half of the vacation days that I had at my last job. And this summer, I want to be able to spend some vacation time with my family. And I am sorry. I am really sorry. I took them to school because I felt like I had to.
That day, no one from daycare called. I picked up the boys, and they were fine for the day.
That evening, I gave Squish and Bug a yogurt after school. Squish barfed it up about ten minutes later. After a bath and another unappreciated hair-wash, we were back to smooth sailing.
At some point that evening, my husband was home doing dishes and cleaning up in the kitchen. I walked in and apologized, explaining that I had meant to get to those things before he got home, and that I felt bad because I knew he had been single parenting at the beginning of the week.
He just looked at me and said, "Sweetie, you got barfed on twice today. Let me handle the dishes. Don't worry."
We finished the week and headed into the weekend without any more barfing.
We started this week preparing for me to take another work trip. They normally do not happen so close together. On average, I am gone for about 1-2 nights a month. It's just the bad luck of the draw this time around.
Yesterday morning, we were racing through our morning routine as I was also trying to pack my suitcase for the work trip. I turned on a certain PBS dino show for Bug and put Squish in his high chair with waffles. After the show, we were transitioning to the time when each of us needed to get dressed. During the transition, I was sitting on the floor with my Bug on one knee and my Squish on the other - my arms around both. We were singing Old MacDonald, and it was the highlight of my day.
I looked down at Bug's right foot and saw that the top and sides of the foot were swollen. And I basically freaked out -- I felt like such a delinquent. "What on earth happened?" Bug had no idea. I asked if it hurt or was itchy or felt normal. He said it felt normal, and he could stand and walk on it the same way he always does. He wouldn't let me touch it. I called the doctor. I rambled a long, crazy ramble about his foot. She asked me several questions, and after my answers, she thought we didn't need to come in - just keep an eye on it.
Yesterday, mid-day, I got a call from preschool. Bug had slipped or tripped and bumped his face on the side of a table. His teeth were not loose. His lip was cut and swollen. But he would be okay.
Several hours later, I was at the preschool/daycare for pick-ups. When I saw Bug, my heart broke a little. His top lip was (and is) about two or three times its normal size.
At this point, I felt like a crumple.
A big, sad, sorry crumple of a mom whose babies are falling apart while I fly around the country to do work that hardly fits the bill of providing professional fulfillment.
Goodbyes last night were terribly hard. Bug and Squish were at the table eating pancakes - a special treat of a dinner designed to relieve some of the suckiness of a fat lip. Bug started to cry when I explained I would be leaving soon. He told me not to go.
It felt like my job in that moment was to model the strength that I wanted him to feel. So I told him I would miss him, too, but that I also knew I would be back really soon. That I knew he would have a fun "boy party" at home with Squish and Daddy. That it would only be one day. That we would talk on the phone.
Before the car pulled away from my apartment, I realized I left the plug for my computer inside. The driver asked if I wanted to go back in and grab it.
"No. It will be awful if I go back and have to say goodbye again. Let's just go."
So we did.
Four hours later, I was in my hotel room in DC and finally able to fall apart the way I wanted to when Bug told me to stay home.
Bug and Squish, if you two ever read this, know that I hated to leave you when you were so young. That I pretended to be brave because I read somewhere that that would help you deal with temporary separations. That I love you, love you, love you, like crazy, crazy, crazy.