It’s 5:03 and I’m splashing water on my face, ritualistic, willing it to revive me.
Is that… barf? In the toilet?
I ask Scarlett if she was feeling okay and she responds, very casually, that she threw up last night but she’s fine.
She feels fine now.
All of us, her dad included, are early risers, and we exchange our children as so-
Morning’s first batch of croissants
I’ll take this one, and you can have that one.
So while I’m collecting my brain and my babies and socks for her to wear, I discover the remnants left behind by my preschooler, the one that has been prepped with instructions for several nighttime scenarios-
Hot? Take a sip of the water I left on your nightstand, and turn on your fan, also on your nightstand.
You’re just “awake”? Read a book by your nightlight and then burrow back in, and go back to sleep.
Missing me? Want to tell me your dream? Save it for the morning, okay? We don’t want to wake your brother.
What I didn’t anticipate was giving instructions on What To Do If I Barf All Over My Bed.
And so I didn’t.
I caught my mother in the back of my throat as soon as I opened my mouth.
Scarlett J?! Why didn’t you tell me you threw up in your bed?!
Of course I wasn’t mad, I was horrified as I looked down and saw her attempt at an in-the-dark-clean up. The JoJo Siwa towel balled at the foot, the nest she made in the corner, the dry one, where she did her best to curl up, and away.
I cry in front of my kids.
We talk about feelings and frustration. We apologize when we shout at one another. We take our baby’s face in our hands, the 5:03 Water Ritual being washed away by salt, and beg them to understand how much you love them.
How, under no circumstance ever, should you ever have to clean up your own barf, or have a hurting tummy by yourself. That it doesn’t matter if your brother is asleep, you are my baby too, you know that?
You are my baby, too.
Someone made me a pound cake and shipped it to me shortly after Maddox was born. I drove it 2.5 hours west, into the mountains, where I struggled to feed me son, and felt the weight of ev e ry thing move through me. I was rattled and lonely, and ate gifted pound cake in the quiet kitchen alone, aside from my sleeping newborn on my chest and I wept.
I cried yesterday. I feel stretched and raw. I started my cycle yesterday. I shrieked at Scarlett in the car yesterday. I made Edna Lewis’s White Pound Cake yesterday. I apologized to my daughter yesterday. I celebrated yesterday. I laughed at my baby. I was a mother yesterday. I was a mother and a baker and a business owner and I was tired.
Every night I recite Where The Wild Things Are to Scarlett, while Maddox is asleep in my bed.
And then Scarlett Sunshine.
And then Itsy Bitsy Spider.
Then Twinkle, Twinkle.
Every night, always in that order.
And then we talked about how her nightlight was positioned Just So, and she will be just fine if she wakes up in the middle of the night.
But I didn’t tell her the plan for what happens when you barf in your bed in the middle of the night.
So there’s that.
She was fine.
She didn’t have a fever, not other incidents.
I feel fine, mom.
She left with her dad this morning, and with Maddox on my hip, I ate a few bites of pound cake, had a few sips of coffee, and noticed a few tears roll by.
What is it with poundcake and crying?