The Stomach Flu, Vomit, Diarrhea, and Single Parenting

This is a toilet bowl photo downloaded from the internet. With five boys, my toilet will never be clean enough to post a photo of!
This is a photo of a toilet bowl I downloaded from the internet (obviously). With five boys, my toilet will never be clean enough to post a photo of!

Lately, I’ve thinking about The Stomach flu – vomit, diarrhea, the works! Don’t ask me why. We don’t have it, but I know it’s out there…waiting…

Maybe it’s because these dreaded cold days keep our windows sealed tight and our air stale. Maybe it’s because, as I look around my house, I realize “spotless” is a word that will never be used in the same sentence as my home. Maybe it’s because I am a mom of five boys who all attend school in one form or another and bring God knows what kind of germs back to our already germy household. Maybe it’s because I’m still traumatized by the first time I looked up from my kidney shaped reading table to see every one of the precious little boys in my second grade class with his fingers either  up his nose or down his pants. 

Whatever the reason, the stomach flu, and its buddies vomit and diarrhea, have been on my mind lately. We have not had any bouts of the stomach flu, but I know it’s coming – eventually, and I’m guessing I just TOTALLY jinxed myself!

I remember someone once telling me that I wasn’t a parent until I had two kids. The thought behind the argument has some validity. With only one kid, there is never a reason to question, “Who did this?” or a need to decipher which kid is telling the truth as, inevitably, fingers point and unified shouts ring out, “HE DID!”

The same can be true for dealing with the stomach bug. I often hear my married friends, most parents of two to three children, moan about the stomach bug ripping through the household, and while I can’t say I don’t sympathize with their displeasure, I can say sometimes I feel like shouting:

“SUCK IT UP PEOPLE!!!”

You have not been through the trenches of a stomach flu until you’re a single custodial parent with more children than toilet bowls.

The Puke Bowl

Let’s talk about the puke bowl for a second. Am I wrong in thinking every house has one bowl designated as the puke bowl?  During the stomach flu, the family puke bowl is highly coveted for, well, puke. During well seasons, the puke bowl is highly coveted as a shield or weapon.

In my male dominated, very active, extremely physical household, fencing battles are common and kitchen utensils are often the weapon of choice. The holder of the puke bowl brandishes it and, like garlic to a vampire, the object of the puke bowl has the fear of God in his wide eyes as takes off screaming like a sissy no matter how old he is. (No matter how many times I’ve assured the boys that I’ve cleaned it, the puke bowl still has its bad reputation, and I must admit to running and screaming when the puke bowl is brandished at me too.)

Back to the Stomach Flu, Vomit and Diarrhea

So to my married friends who use the divide and conquer concept of parenting and even to my single parent friends with fewer than three kids, here is when I most envy you:

  • when I am up all night running from room to room checking on whoever is moaning the loudest,
  • when I am rubbing the back of whoever is clutching the toilet and puking,
  • when I am turning my head away, trying desperately to close my ears to the retching of my precious children because their noises make me want to gag and vomit myself,
  • when I am wiping the line of thick drippy spit from the bottom lip of the vomiter,
  • when my older boys stumble their way to the bathroom while I lay in my bed selfishly weighing how much time in purgatory it’ll cost me to pretend I’m still asleep and let them puke on their own,
  • when I am arguing with pasty white children begging for a drink that I know they will just vomit up, all over my white couch,
  • when I am wondering why my ex insisted on buying a white couch in the first place especially since he gave it its first stain – chocolate pudding that now looks disgustingly like the diarrhea spewing out of the ends of everyone in the house and I am wondering how it is possible that he left it with me,
  • when I finally give in and get that drink my boy is pleading for with his puppy dog eyes only to have the drink and a gallon of unidentifiable other stuff erupt in a fountain of projectile vomit moments later,
  • when I am incredulously scrubbing that gallon of unidentifiable vomit with my own churning stomach and swearing that I’ve already cleaned up so much vomit that my boys can’t possibly have anything left in them and I once again reconsider feeding them on a daily basis,
  • when I am so exhausted my brain can only hold basic thoughts like, “Hmmm…I wonder if it’s best to have all five kids sick at once and have two days of pure misery or better to have one kid sick at a time for about two weeks of slight misery?”

So yes, I am thinking about the stomach flu, vomit, and diarrhea. I am waiting on this cold January day for the stalker I know is just waiting for us to let our guard down.

But this year I won’t be defeated. I will be ready. I am signing off now to go replenish our supply of hand sanitizer, to open the windows and let the clear 20 something degree air race through our home, to cut up fruits and vegetable and boost our immune system, and…

WAIT! who am I kidding? My kids won’t eat vegetables! They would rather puke than eat vegetables! In fact, they have actually told me that certain vegetables cause them to puke!

I know that the illusion of good health we have now just disguises that stomach bug waiting to pounce.

This year I won’t fool myself. I will be ready. I am signing off now to go scrub my toilet in preparation for the vomit and diarrhea I know will eventually decide to invite themselves to my house, to catch up on clean sheets and towels while hoping the unwanted houseguest leaves quickly but without causing pure misery, and of course to put the puke bowl within easy reach of all three bedrooms.

And whenever the stomach bug decides to raise it’s ugly head, I will remember,

this too shall pass…

God Bless…

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