When Transcendence Doesn’t Happen

I really thought Charlotte’s Thanksgiving vomiting would be a one-time thing. I thought it was brought on by an excess of excitement and mashed potatoes. I thought we would spend Friday resting, and by Saturday the children would be well enough for us to drop off with the grandparents so that the Ogre and I could go see the Caravaggio exhibit that’s on at the Kimbell and have dinner in Ft. Worth, something which I’ve been planning and looking forward to for two weeks. Then on Sunday we have tickets to take the girls to see the Nutcracker, a holiday tradition.

Yesterday, the Ogre took Sienna to run errands while Charlotte and Liam napped. He was going to Half-Priced Books and the grocery store. I was going to make shrimp scampi, one of his favorite meals, and the Pioneer Woman’s bread pudding. I spent a lovely afternoon trolling the internet, doing laundry, and cleaning a little. My throat began to feel a little raw and scratchy fairly soon after the Ogre left but I was determined to ignore it. Nothing would ruin our weekend. When Charlotte woke up she seemed a little under the weather, which I put down to exhaustion from yesterday. I cuddled with her for a while and then put her down to get Liam up from his nap. As Liam and I rounded the corner into the living room, I heard what sounded to me like the spilling of water on the floor. The first word out of my mouth was “Charlotte!” in a half-exasperated groan. Then I saw her, standing with her hands outstretched in a puddle of vomit. 
“Oh, no,” I whispered. She vomited again, gaining impressive distance, and then let out her panicked “why is this happening to me?” upchuck scream. 
I did not spring into action. I sighed heavily, then put Liam down and grabbed a towel. I grudgingly cleaned up the mess, wiped her down with a damp cloth, grabbed a trash can and begged her to throw up in that next time, and slumped down in a chair in defeat. 
There have been times when I have found some greater truth in a child’s illness. There have been times when a child throwing up on me has been exactly what I needed at that moment. And then there are times, like yesterday, when I don’t learn anything in particular. When I just give up, defeated, annoyed that illness has ruined all my plans again, annoyed that every time my husband has been in town for the past six months someone has been sick, annoyed that we just can’t seem to catch a break, and annoyed that I’m the one who has to clean it up, to take the temperatures, to administer medicine to whining children, to follow a toddler around with a trash can begging them, for the love of all that’s holy, to please throw up in the trash can and not on the floor.

I guess these are the times when I grow the most in virtue. The times when motherhood doesn’t come easily, when soothing a fevered brow and getting another cup of Gatorade are tasks that I just have to grit my teeth and get through.

That’s the funny thing about growing in virtue, though. It isn’t particularly pleasant. It doesn’t make me feel holy or noble or even slightly more mature than I felt an hour ago. Mostly, I just want to lock myself in the bathroom and cry. 
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