Yours for Life

Parenting jobs, I’ve discovered, are yours for life. I’m not really sure how jobs get assigned, or if there’s ever an accounting for balance, but I don’t suppose I should go too far down that path this morning. Suffice to say, parenting jobs are like your side of the bed – they’re yours, Amen.

One of my main jobs is vomit remediation and restoration. When people barf around here, I’m the person that makes it like it never happened.

It’s funny, maybe, how your kids pick up on what job goes with which parent. They know that mom packs lunches and signs papers, and dad cleans up puke. Hours after telling his mom that he needed new shoes, Jack stumbled down the stairs a few nights ago and said, “Dad. Dad. I just threw up.” I don’t reckon he ever thought about waking his mother with the news anymore than he thought to tell me that he needed shoes.

I actually know how and when I got this job; December 2005. Leah and I were taking the primer to parenting course before Jack was to be born in January. It was, and perhaps still is, a Friday and Saturday event where they teach you to change diapers, swaddle your baby, and bathe your baby. At least that’s what they teach you on Friday night. We didn’t make the Saturday part of the course because Leah started puking – I mean angry stomach bug puking – about 2:00 that Saturday morning.

It was awful. She was “great with child” and every time she heaved I half-expected to hear a baby cry. I know I’m repeating myself, but it was awful – mildly violent. It may have been the first exposure to the stomach bug that either of us ever had. I don’t remember the stomach bug pre-kids. I don’t remember the stomach bug as a kid. Odd.

The aftermath was a bit crazy. Walls, floors, fixtures, carpet. The house was barely six-months old. An older house may have been a complete tear-down in the wake of this disaster, but at six-month’s old, this one was headed for rehab. I went to work, there in the wee hours of Saturday morn, scooping and spraying and scrubbing – interrupted briefly by the gag reflex when the smell won a brief battle against the Lysol – until everything was nice and tidy again. Then Leah came in for round two. She was, thankfully, able to contain most of the projectile in the commode.

“Sorry, it looks nice,” she told me on her way back to bed.

Yeah, Merry Maids or ServPro is really missing out on me, I thought.

Fast-forward a few weeks and we’re back at the hospital for the big day. It’s about showtime – I mean, grand finale time – and I’m really just there, useless. The nurse looks at me, with no small amount of incredulity, and says, “You’re supposed to be helping her breathe! Did you not attend the pre-parenting course???”

“We went Friday night, but we were both sick Saturday and didn’t make it to the second half. So if that’s when they taught this part, no ma’am, we weren’t there,” I said. All I knew was the breathing exercise that Bill Cosby talked about in Bill Cosby: Himself. “Zip, wha, wee, wha, push, push,” I offered. She wasn’t impressed. Baby boy came whether I knew how to help Leah breathe or not.

So, for that fateful night 11 years ago, I got a lifetime of vomit detail and Leah endured childbirth without knowing how to breathe. I don’t know who drew the short straw on that.

That’s all for today. Be kind. See you soon.