Last week started off promising enough. Even though Sadie, my 4-year-old started running fever on Sunday, the icy temperature outside made me quite content to sit on the couch in front of the fire with her for a few days. On Monday afternoon, as an ice storm moved into Mississippi, the older girls were released from school early. Since Sadie and I were already in our pajamas we were glad to have the company. School was canceled for Tuesday as well but it was such a rare treat to have real winter weather in the South, we were all still happy to be home.
By Wednesday I was glad for the big girls to get back to school, and a little frustrated at the thought of another day at home with my sick baby. Not only did I feel bad that she felt bad, but I was beginning to get cabin fever.
My 4-year-old, 30-pound preschooler regressed to her 2-year-old self in less than 72 hours. A trip to the bathroom that normally she'd take by herself without even asking me for help, now required that I carry her to the potty, watch her do her business, wipe her and then carry her back to her throne, lest her precious feet touch the cold, hard, floor.
Exhausted from being up with her throughout the night, rubbing Vick's on her chest, taking her temperature and waking her for more medicine if it crept too high - I didn't mind laying down with her at naptime.
But as the week progressed, she regressed even further. Sadie started doing that hideous thing that newborn babies do, when they wake up everytime you lay them down. Trying to continue to meet work deadlines became impossible with my 30-pound infant. Every time I tried to slide off the bed to get to my computer, Sadie would awaken and cry until she was lying directly on top of me again.
I gave in. I forgot that sleep deprivation is a form of torture and I became a slave to Sadie's REM cycle. I prayed for snow on Wednesday night. I needed school to be closed on Thursday because it bordered on child abuse to get Sadie out of the house as bad as she felt. And I was exhausted - the very idea of making breakfast, gathering uniforms, backpacks, snacks, brushing hair and teeth - it was enough to make me fake an injury to be put on the sidelines of motherhood.
I told my kids on Wednesday night that if there was a single snowflake stuck to the ground on Thursday that no one had to go to school. It snowed all night.A few minutes later my phone buzzed beside my bed. My friend Jessica, who has a daughter Emma's age, texted me: Are you going to send Emma's uniform for her to wear after the play?
I sat up in bed with my adrenaline pumping. The newspaper can't print the words I said. I ran into the den and yelled towards Emma, “Get dressed! You have your school play today! What are you supposed to wear?”
Emma burst into tears, “But you said. You said Momma. You said if it snowed we could stay at home.”
“I know what I said but I forgot about your play. Go get dressed.”
I had the small problem of the other two children, one of whom wasn't even close to being dressed and the other who was highly contagious and mostly naked. I texted my assistant/friend/personal guardian angel, Brittany: “Can you babysit today?”
She texted me back: “Sure. When?”Me: “Um, now? Please. Please. Please.”
Brittany was at my house within five minutes. Emma and I were out the door in five more.
I dropped Emma at the front door of her school with no backpack, no homework, no nothing and parked the car to go watch her 1st grade play in my pajamas, unbrushed hair and without a single drop of makeup. I was bracing myself to see every single parent in town and was surprised to see only a few. I asked my friend Jeanne where everyone was, “Oh they are probably all waiting to come tonight,” she said. “Tonight?? We're doing this again? Today? For. The. Love.” I decided then and there, that I was going to hang a sign on my uterus: “Going Out of Business.”
(Robin O'Bryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest book is “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.” Connect with her on Facebook).