When Abigail is sick, she is kind of a jerk.
I mean, all toddlers are, and I understand that, but at some point this week, when it was another middle-of-the-night, can’t-sleep, feeling-awful tromp in the dark, and Abigail insisted on sitting in my lap so she could scream at full-tilt inches away from my face, I just thought, “God. You are such a jerk.”
And this is where, I know, mothers who write about their kids online get the judgment-filled scorn and condemnation from the masses as to how we’re documenting our children for eternity, and, with some exceptions, I suppose I tend to agree with them. It isn’t an accident that since Abigail turned two that I quit writing about her in any detailed fashion. Maybe that will change – parenting, lo it has gotten more layered and agonizing and complex – but for now I keep my writing about Abigail as it relates to who she is to a minimum.
Now, my feelings as a parent are a different beast entirely, and I think that’s fair game.
I don’t care that Abigail is, in the most technical of definitions, a jerk when she’s sick. At her age, the ability to rein it all in isn’t even a remote, scientific possibility, let alone a reasonable expectation for us to have of her as parents. But at 3:30 a.m., when she’s already been whining and demanding raisins and then throwing them on the floor because they are not apples and I WANTED APPLES!, as another fellow traveler with her on this marble, it takes some energy to conjure up some kindness her way. Why? Because then she usually projectile vomits on at least one pillow, three blankets and the both of us.
In these moments, covered in puke and snot and sweat, I tend to quietly hold her close, and let her wail. That’s my job, and I do it gladly because I love her unconditionally. She’s miserable, and her Dad and I are the safest respite for all of that anger and sickness. But for a good long stretch of time, I just sit there and think, “Man, you are an asshole, kid.”
Maybe some day I will morph into the sort of parent who can cope with week-long stretches of sickness without a thinking any of this, and to those parents who can, I tip my hat to you. For now, in my head, I’m calling my kid names while I’m rocking her close, hoping to God that he’ll forgive me the less-than-maternal internal mutterings and help me get my kid back the hell to sleep.