There’s a mountain of laundry to do. Sheets, PJs, pillowcases and pillows. They’re lying in an insurmountable pile in the corner of my 2-year-old’s bedroom, taunting me as I make the calls to work and daycare.
Adelaide’s still asleep, wiped out from a night of throwing up. I’m exhausted, too — and as I toss a sideways glance at the pile of dirty laundry, I feel even more tired. But beneath the fatigue, I feel a strange sense of excitement.
We’ll have the whole day together; it’s so rare that this happens. I switch modes, push the thoughts of all the things to do at work to the far corners of my mind. I morph into “sick-day mom,” mentally preparing the Pedialyte doses, the movies we’ll watch, the bananas-rice-applesauce-toast diet. Where’s the thermometer again? Do people still do the flat gingerale thing?
When Ada wakes up, I scoop her into my arms. She’s feverish and more sluggish than usual, but being sick never really affects her the same way as it does me. There’s something about that boundless toddler energy that manages to overcome even the most virulent stomach bug. If you could bottle that stuff, I’d buy it.
We plop down on the couch and I turn on Adelaide’s favourite movie, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. She scoots into my lap and I wrap my arms around her. Even the chance of her barfing all over me is worth the morning sick-day cuddle. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
The piles of laundry, the exhaustion, the kind-of-whiny kid. If you add it all up, it seems like every parent’s worst nightmare. But sitting there with Adelaide curled in my lap, chugging electrolytes from her sippy cup, a sense of calm settles over me.
Being a mom might be messy, gross and hard, but as I hold her wee body close to me, I wouldn’t trade the moment for anything in the world.
Not even for a clean set of sheets.