The struggle is real

The last few nights have been some of my harder nights as a mom.

If you’re a mom, you know that there are SEVERAL nights that will rival for this title, so maybe you’re already nodding along saying, ‘Amen, sister,’ but let me just start by saying these have been the kind of nights where although I did have to pour myself a glass of wine, I didn’t even get to drink it. Yes, those kinds of nights.

It began Friday, late afternoon, with a fire. I wasn’t home, which was probably a good thing, because my husband and my four year old son decided that starting a small burn pile in the storm front winds of the afternoon was a good plan. Well, as my former firefighter husband should have guessed, it quickly spread outside the fire pit. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, except no one was supervising said burn pile. By the time my four year old caught wind (pun intended) of the fire, 3 hay bails and several square yards of my back yard were ablaze. The flames were ‘waist high’ as described by my husband after the fact, and they were not going to just be ‘stomped out.’ A hose was involved. When I arrived home from school pick up, Merit was in the midst of the smoke with a hose, spraying away, while my husband met me with an excited and guilty grin.

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog story, just some charred grass and hay. But it was a pretty ‘legit’ grass fire I’m told.

Shortly after the fire, my son started to complain of a tummy ache. We serve up papaya pills around here for stomach aches, which is a blessing and a curse. For one, they’re a natural and healthy way to try to ease an upset stomach, but they are also a delicious treat. This has caused us to be someone suspect of complaints of random tummy aches. And because Merit seemed to be fine otherwise, I didn’t take him serious. I figured maybe he had a little rush of adrenaline from his brush with firefighting. Even still, he climbed up into my lap and abruptly fell asleep.

Both Cadence and Merit stopped napping right at two years old, when the next baby arrived. It was very rude and unfair, and no matter how much battling we did, the nap war was lost quickly with those two. Gage still naps at almost 2.5 years old, so I’m grateful for that, but I can’t say that Merit doesn’t still need a nap from time to time as well, even though he’s 4. Maybe once a week, he will fall asleep in the car or on his bed on his own accord, so taking a nap wasn’t super unusual.

But after about two hours, I woke him up, because it’s NOT usual for him to nap that long (and still go to bed anywhere close to bedtime). Well thank God I woke him up, because he was sleeping in my bed and no sooner did I get him up and into my lap in the rocking chair, did he leap up and puke all over the floor.

Great.

It was one of those moments where he started wining and squirming in my lap, mumbling something, and I had just enough time to ask my husband, “What is he saying?”

Oh… he was saying he’s going to throw up…

Readers, I have hard wood floors, which is great for kids and dogs. And I have 3 kids and 4 dogs, so it’s a necessity in my world. Well, I also have a large white rug that defines the space of my living room, and although it’s a relatively small area as compared to the entire house, it’s ALWAYS where the dogs and kids puke, and undoubtedly, where the red wine spills. This was no exception. Merit walked right to the edge of the rug- almost home free- and not only puked right on the rug, but ALSO, a direct assault onto his younger brother’s most cherished blanky. I mean, you can’t make this up.

But here is the thing about puke- it’s a lot like a tsunami. There is never just ONE wave. And we never seem to remember this in the moment, do we moms? And so once he was done heaving on his brothers blanket and my rug, he started to go again. It was at this point, that I decided we needed to make a run for it. The bathroom seemed so very close, and yet… it’s amazing how much throw up can come in so short a time.

Don’t worry, my house had just been cleaned top to bottom the day before. #wasteofmoney

After we stripped the poor guy down and popped him in the shower, I began the quickest clean up of my life. Thomas was in a critical point in the dinner making process, and I was exactly 3 minutes out from a conference call with a new business prospect (thank God this gal ended up being a mom of a  4 year old as well, and was willing to postpone our conversation for 15 minutes, which bought me a little extra time to sanitize).

About 40 minutes later, I came down the stairs having completed my conference call to discover both Merit AND my husband laying in bed. Dinner was complete, but my husband was starting to feel really sick, really quickly. Given that I don’t have to worry about him crying wolf for a tummy pill, I started to dread the next 12 hours of my life. Here we go!

Luckily, Thomas had completed making dinner before he was struck with illness, and although I was nervous to eat what he had prepared, wondering if perhaps this was a virus, I decided that a) it was probably food poisoning, given the rapid onset for two people at once and, b) am I going to waste some delicious smelling paleo chilie rellenos? No, I am not.

I fixed plates for the remaining three of us, Cadence, Gage and myself, and sat down at the table to enjoy. And I have to say, they were delicious. So good, in fact, I was almost MORE bummed at the loss of my appetite than I was to see my 2 year old throw up in his plate across the table from me.

Stomach bug- 3, Mom- 0.

With two in bed, and one in the bath, I rescheduled the rest of my evening. It was time to settle into full mom mode.

Cadence and I, feeling fine, ate what we could of our dinner. And although the kitchen was a mess, I had to move in another direction. Merit was out for the night, in our bed, and with the onset of Thomas’ tummy ache becoming a full on purge fest, Cadence and I started to disinfect everything and pray to be spared. I put her to bed early, so as to hopefully avoid any cross contamination, and as I got Gage down in his crib, Merit started running a fever.

It was about this time, around 9pm, that it really started to set it: I was not going to be sleeping tonight. With a sick 2 year old in his crib, I’d be ‘sleeping’ with one eye open and an ear to the monitor, and with my 4 year old and sick husband in my bed, I decided the couch would likely be a better landing place for me.

Once Cadence and Gage had fallen asleep and it looked like I would be free to start to clean up the kitchen, Merit woke up. WIDE awake, as a matter of fact, and he seemed to be experiencing a miraculous recovery! Although this was great news, it meant that he would be up for God knew how long, after sleeping from about 3pm to almost 10pm. So my hopes of AT LEAST getting things cleaned up and some work done, while everyone was down and out, were dashed. No such luck.

It was then that the wind started.

“Oh yea! There is a storm coming in!” I remembered, realizing absolutely every piece of my enclosed back porch furniture- every set of shoes, every rug, all the dog food, the wicker furniture- were outside in the yard. We had been cleaning up, before all hell broke loose, so as to entertain Saturday evening (which of course I had already cancelled).

The race was on. I single handedly- what? Was I going to ask my sick 4 year old for help?- brought in all the furniture, food, shoes, and rugs just before the rain started. I have to tell you, it started to become painfully clear to me in all this, that pretty much everything Thomas does on the farm is what THOMAS does on the farm. I know he goes out every night to do certain things, and I know that when there is a storm coming, he wants to secure certain things- but I don’t know what any of these things are. And because he was violently ill- in and out of the bathroom during this time- I figured I would try to impress him and figure it all out by myself.

I grabbed a flashlight and headed out to the barn. I know he ‘put’s the chickens away’ and as far as I know, that just means he closes the door to the coop. It’s my understanding that all the birds are used to going into the coop on their own by night fall. Well, that seemed to be mostly true, except the guinea fowl. Half of them were stowed away in the coop and half of them had roosted in the rafters of the barn. I guessed that that was okay, even if it wasn’t how it was ‘supposed’ to be, because I wasn’t sure exactly how I would even begin to get them down and in the coop even if I wanted to.

But the real surprise came when I was headed towards the barn in the first place. I had the flashlight out in front of me, and I had left the dogs back at the house to keep them out of the mud, and my light fell on a large, black something in the center of the barn. It stopped me. I could see it from 20 yards away and I couldn’t quite make out what it was, but I feared it was an animal of some sort.

Here, in Tennessee, we don’t have any large predators. Not like I’m used to back in Nevada. In Nevada, in a similar circumstance, I would immediately think bear. But this couldn’t be a bear. And it probably wasn’t even an animal, I just couldn’t figure out what it was from that distance. So I timidly started to creep forward, squinting my eyes to focus in the dark.

Sure enough, as I got closer, the flash light caught a glowing eye. My heart stopped! What on earth was in my barn and why on earth was it there on the ONE night I had to be the man of the farm?

Just as I was beginning to truly panic, Wilbur lifted his giant, hog head off the hay.

Wilbur is our bore mule foot hog. Wilbur USED to sleep in the barn. Wilbur- after 2 full days of chasing him and the other 6 pigs all over the farm- was moved by way of a rented trailer to the pasture across the street. Wilbur, even when he DID sleep in the barn, didn’t sleep OUTSIDE of the fenced area of the barn. And Wilbur rarely did anything on his own…

And just as all of this began to dawn on me, I realized it wasn’t just Wilbur… Fern, Charlotte, Templeton, Avery, Elsa and Olaf were ALL in the barn. And to my surprise, and confusion, three of them actually WERE in the fenced part of the barn.

So as a group, they had busted out of their pasture across the street (and if this doesn’t sound familiar to you, please take a walk down memory lane through my farm blogs to see just how many times these pigs have escaped and wreaked havoc), crossed the orchard, the street, the front yard, AND the back yard, undetected… AND three of them had actually broken BACK in to their old stomping grounds.

I was impressed.

I mean, I was pissed, but I was also impressed.

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I didn’t even go into the barn to close the chicken coop, I had to run back and report to Thomas immediately. This was outside of my jurisdiction. But by the time I got back to the house, I wasn’t even mad. I thought it was hilarious. If I had a dime for every time that these pigs pulled one of these moves over on us, I wouldn’t have to do Arbonne, ya know? Thomas wasn’t as amused, but definitely agreed that we had to allow them to win this round and have their way with the barn for the night. They all seemed pretty settled in and couldn’t do too much damage. After all, it had not been their first night sleeping in freedom. And even when I came up to give the huge, 300-400 lb pig a pet, he hardly opened his eyes in acknowledgment. #jerk

With a light heart, I chatted with the roosted chickens and admired their way of sleeping dang near stacked onto of each other.

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I listened to the guinea fowl from the rafters and laughed as they seemed so very thrown off at my being in their barn at such a late hour.

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(Notice Wilbur?)

And I even took a second to walk around the barn and locate the turkeys. Apparently they like to sleep at the top of their own, individual posts. I think that’s adorable.

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So in the middle of a storm- both personally and literally- I still managed to find some joy and some amusement.

That evening, Gage was up 4-5 times crying for no apparent reason. Maybe just that he didn’t feel well, and so I had to rock him each separate time. Merit woke up around 3am and decided that he needed to get out of the bed and go into the living room. I was onto him and grabbed a bucket and chased him down JUST in the nick of time. I caught it all, thank you Lord. The white rug was spared a second round. Thomas was up absolutely all night long, the poor guy. He was just so sick- far sicker than the others. And I, well I laid on the couch in between moans from Merit and cries from Gage that required attending. And at some point, in the middle of the night, I found myself crying my eyes out to ‘This is Us.” Maybe it was the delirium… or maybe it’s just because that show is sad, man! Have you watched it??

The morning came well before I was ready for it. I don’t think I’ve wanted sleep and slept so little in any one night. I was just so exhausted with worry. Gage was up at 6am, requesting a banana. Like, literally. The first peep that came from the monitor that morning was the word ‘BANANA!” screamed at the top of his lungs. So good morning!

He ate the banana and immediately fell back asleep on the coach beside me. It was actually super cute. He finished his banana, seemed to fall into a tired stooper, and then laid down and fell right back to sleep. So I followed suit. Around 7am, Cadence came downstairs, feeling rested and happy as can be. Lucky girl!

Gage woke up for the second time around 7:30am and immediately requested food again. I made him some oatmeal and sat him down at the table just in time for him to throw up his banana. Okay! So no oatmeal, more bath time. Got it.

Merit and Thomas emerged sometime after 8am, not looking all that improved, if I’m being honest. The pigs were in the back yard by this point, eating away at the pecans, and so Thomas has to brave the aggressive rain storm- like it was really coming down- to get them back in their pen by the barn. They refused to go back across the street to their new digs.

When I asked Merit, while Thomas was running around chasing 7 pigs in the rain, what on earth we were going to do about those pigs, he suggested, “Maybe we shouldn’t have pigs.”

You know, I’m beginning to wonder.

By noon, everyone seemed pretty much recovered- I’m so grateful to say- except my husband. Now, I love Thomas so very much, but he is a mighty sufferer of the ‘man flu.’ When he is sick, he is SICK. And when he’s really sick, like this, he is DEAD to the world. So I couldn’t really tell how bad he was actually feeling, or how much maybe he just needed a tummy pill. But even though everyone seemed to be on the mend, we pretty much skipped right over lunch just to be safe.

The puking seemed to be fully over for all by dinner time. We actually ended up sitting down together and enjoying some homemade nachos. I know, right? What better way to introduce the kids back to the real world of eating than with a bunch of cheese and spice? Look, don’t judge. By this point, I had cleaned puke out of rugs, off chairs, out of blankets and clothes, out of buckets and off baseboards. I had discovered escaped pigs, and refurnished a back porch. AND I did it all without a lick of sleep! I felt like a super hero, but I was SOOOOO tired and so ready to go to bed come nightfall.

All the kids went to bed in their OWN beds, and Thomas seemed to be feeling amazing, and so I was absolutely ready for a good night’s sleep. And just as I was dozing off into brilliant slumber, I heard the all too familiar sound of a rush of fluid into a toilet bowl.

Cadence.

My calm confidence that the blueberries from Chilie, that only the three boys had eaten (and then thrown up) had caused all my problems, was turning to dread. If it’s not food poisoning… then that means I’m not immune.

There are few things I like less than throwing up. As a matter of fact, my body basically rejects the entire concept. I’ve had the stomach flu a number of times in my life and almost every time, the virus leaves my body in any and all ways OTHER than through puking (sorry to paint that picture). And even when I’ve been over served at the bar in my younger years (okay, and sometimes in my older years), I wish, and hope and pray that the grace of getting sick will come my way- it never does.

I don’t puke.

But as soon as I heard my perfectly healthy little girl getting sick in the bathroom, I suddenly wondered if maybe I wasn’t feeling well either. The power of suggestion- I tell you, it’s real.

Well, I’m not sick yet (and please pray it stays that way), but I did NOT get any sleep for a second night in a row. Poor Cadence got it as bad as her dad, and she was sick about every 20 minutes throughout the night. Two rounds of Zofran, MANY bucket washes, and lots of worrying later, it was morning… again. I almost wanted to cry as I heard Gage starting to stir upstairs.

Moms, do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever been that tired? I was that tired today. So tired, as a matter of fact, I didn’t even get up. My husband took Cadence and the boys out into the living room, and without even asking him if he was feeling up to it, I rolled back over and went to sleep. I had to! I got about an hour and a half, and you know what, I felt like a new mom.

I swear, we really are superheros!

It’s been rough, Readers. It’s no fun to be a mom on these nights. But it makes me so grateful that my kids are generally healthy. This year, it’s been one fever after another, but the flood waters always recede. The pigs find their way back into the right pasture. And the diarrhea starts to slow down.

Things get better. They have to, right?

Well, as I write this, I’m seeing out my back yard window that the pigs, are in fact, out again… oh, and one of the cats crapped in the bathtub!

So the saga continues… The struggle is, in fact, very real.

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