Dear Son #1, #2, & #3,
As I wrote this blog post last week, I was upstairs listening to the high-pitched sounds of the “Bumble Gums or the Humble Buns” or something like that — that was coming from downstairs where you, my little William, laid on the couch slowly sipping a Ginger Ale happily engrossed in the show that I can’t remember the name of. I had a list a mile long of all the things I needed to accomplish before we went away for the weekend but it wasn’t getting done, and that’s okay, because all that mattered at that time was you.
While we waited for the bus that morning you began to clutch your tummy and proclaim dramatically that it hurt, a classic method with you boys on how to score a day off school. But I said no way, this mama’s not falling for that one. I saw the bus come down the road so I called out “backpacks on!” and ensured everyone’s masks were on. Dearest William though, yours was suddenly filled with an immense amount of vomit. Apparently you weren’t trying to get out of school after all.
If you had asked me six years ago before I became a mom (which would be physically impossible because you weren’t born yet), I would’ve had a whole different answer to what love is. It would have incorporated sunsets, romantic beach walks, candlelit dinners, warm baby snuggles, running hugs, proclamations of unconditional love, and family story time on the couch. While, don’t get me wrong, these are all love too; love is really all about bodily fluids.
Like 99% of moms in this world, I have been puked, pooped, spilt, bled, sneezed, peed, cried, coughed, and spat up on. Even as you boys are growing older, I still manage to leave the house wearing someone’s bodily fluid, while this is usually dried up snot I have been known to sport some pee and even a smudge of poop once that snuck on undetected. It probably should be a bigger deal than it is but it’s not. I could get mad about it, be completely disgusted by it, and try to avoid it at all costs, but I don’t. It may be gross, but it’s love.
Pieter, when you were a toddler and I was pregnant with William, we both caught a nasty stomach flu. We were both tired, grumpy and constantly nauseous—unable to stomach anything other than saltine crackers and watered-down Gatorade—even then it was touch and go. Then you barfed all over me, not a bit hitting the floor, so I declared it a #momwin and got us both cleaned up. Later when you fell asleep on me I realized that absolutely nothing else mattered in the world at that moment other than you getting better. Not the copious amounts of laundry you had created over the past three hours, not the roiling in my own stomach, not the fact that I was wearing a scoop neck sweater when you unloaded your lunch. Love was all that mattered at that moment and in this case it was projectile.
Alexander, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve worn your poop. Even now with the fact that you’re going to be three-years-old next month, I still wear your poop. Whether you’re leaking out of your diaper, grabbing it to show me, doing the Macarena during a diaper change or jumping off the potty just a little too soon; somehow, some way, it ends up on me. Then on your clothes and on the floor; making me wonder if maybe I’m just a bad diaper-changer. Is that a thing? Then you laugh. You always laugh. And for the most part, I laugh too. So there you go, it’s love.
William, I didn’t get my to-do list completed that day, instead I helped you with Playdoh, rubbed your back while you sat on the toilet, set up the melty beads for you, made the melty beads for you, changed the show when you finally got sick of the “Huffle Nuts”, and built you a train track. I washed your coat, your clothes, and the poor Batman mask from this morning and I made you French Toast for lunch (which was a strange request for a puke day). I cleaned your face and checked your forehead all the while praying every time you ate something it would stay down. It did. And at the end of the day when I tucked you in and saw that you had colour back in your cheeks and sparkle back in your eyes, I relished the big slobbery kiss you gave me. Love. Gross, but love all the same.
Like the copious amounts of uncontrollable poops, love is messy.
Like the unexpected surprise of a projectile vomit, love is unpredictable.
Like the dried up tears on my shoulder, love is hard.
Like the first pee in a potty that ends up on the floor, love is exciting.
Like the snot that smears on my pants from a leg hug, love is beautiful.
Love can come in many forms my boys, so be mindful to look for it everywhere—because you never know if you might come across it streaked down your pant leg, in a puddle on the floor, or all down your shirt. Just remember that in all forms, love is beautiful.
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This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Love Looks Like”.