The last thing I shared was about our Christmas Vacation that was becoming eerily similar to the Griswold fiasco in the film of the same name. Since that post, -on Christmas Day, coincidentally - I came down with the same stomach virus. Things went from bad to worse in a hurry. If there was an upside, it was that Joe had almost stopped throwing up when I started, and that his mother was due in St. Pete's that same day. The girls were all out of sorts because they had only seen Joe in passing, and sometimes at mealtime as he tried to spoon food into Addie - who can shovel it in pretty fast - before he'd have to excuse himself to throw up because the smell of her baby food triggered the gag reflex again. Once he had to do everything for them by himself because I was laying down with a cold rag praying for mercy, it took them all a while to get reacquainted.
That afternoon, he had to leave to go get their visas and pick him mother up at the airport. So I was sick and alone with the girls. He came back earlier than expected (a blessing for me) because her flight had been delayed....then delayed....then she was delayed coming through customs because her bags had not made the last flight. So our fears were peaked when an hour after the new flight was supposed to have landed, the driver called and said she didn't get off the plane. He waited while we called home, called the travel agent, called home again, called the St. Pete's airport - that was not helpful at ALL - then called the travel agent again, then called the connecting airline. Finally, we got confirmation that she had been ON the flight. So we waited to see what the holdup was at the airport. They again were unhelpful. Two hours after that flight had landed, she found our driver. She had been filling out lost-and-found paperwork for her luggage that somehow got her into a customs security office filling out four forms - that it turns out she didn't need.
By the time she got to the room, we were exhausted. I went straight to bed. And I lounged around the next day while she backed Joe up. We tried to keep all the primary contact with the girls like we've been told to do by our social worker, only using her as an extra set of hands but not the ones to feed, soothe, and change a diaper. But after such a rough couple of days, we slid into letting her help a little bit more. And it was so good of her to understand the role we were needing her to take. Those girls are just so precious and huggable and giggly and ticklish and sweet that you immediately fall in love with them.
I just want to say in closing: This probably happens to everyone who's about to be a parent for the first time, or who's about to have their second child while the first is still an infant. Everyone says, "Just wait. Everything is going to change. You don't know the meaning of the word [choose one: tired, dirty, cranky, busy, broke, strung out, crazy....] until you have had to go through _____[some personal experience that was really, really bad-but still an exception and not the rule]______ with your own kids." And then they either jokingly or not suggest you practice with their kids.
Well, in response to that, I would like to say:
There is no American parenting experience quite like that of having both parents down with a stomach virus while stuck in a hotel room in a country where you can't get a bucket of ice, while trying to care for two infants, one of whom is immobile and cannot sit unsupported, neither of whom speaks your language or knows you as a trustworthy adult and loving caregiver. All you have is food you can't eat, water you are dying for but know you can't keep down, the smell of baby food and spit up reeking around you because you can't pull up the strength long enough to leave the room for 30 minutes for housekeeping to come change sheets and clean the bathroom. You have food and utensils the infants are not accustomed to, and no high chair which means wrangling the acrobat while propping up the marionette, trying anything possible to get them to eat something that you bought for them, because Lord knows - you're not getting out anytime soon. This leads to gas, tears, diaper explosions - or worse: Not! And then the drool kicks in and you realize - Holy Cow, they're Teething Too?! And there is no neighbor, no friend, no Mamaw, no one you can call in for relief for two days. Anything we have to go through from here on out will be gravy compared to what we have endured this week, because at least we will be home, with US doctors and nearby friends and family, ice and filtered water that comes out of a magical silver box called a refrigerator, filled with food options for gassy or picky children! And let's not forget the coffee pot!
Joe and I pondered the rationale behind people making those comments about preparing for parenthood to disrupt what was a formerly peaceful existence. It's not very encouraging. I wouldn't even say that it is in step with Ephesians 4: 29, being good for the building up of others, giving grace to all who hear. What's the point of it then, really? To give those new parents the head's up that it's going to be hard? I think we're all aware of that. To quote a conversation one of my friends and I had this week - every sane parent has that moment when they look up in the midst of trauma with their kids and wonder why they didn't just get a dog. Then is it to just mess with them, poking fun, commiserating? Okay, I guess for most folks.
But when you've sat through years of childlessness, quiet mealtimes, boring Saturdays, clean kitchens...well, maybe not that last part...you'd gladly give up all that "peace" for the "pieces": of cookie ground into the carpet, of Barbie's body clogging the toilet, of cake that stick to their faces on their next birthday, of dog food that get taste tested, of kleenex left in a pocket getting picked out of the lint trap after wiping snotty face after snotty face.
And I can't wait for you to see their little faces.