From the moment we walked into Starbucks, I knew. Something about my tiny human seemed off. Tiny Tot wasn’t acting like his normal, bubbly self. He didn’t order juice in a coffee cup. He wasn’t overflowing with love for his preschool teacher, Ms. Tammy.
He didn’t even try to poke out the eyeballs of a sleeping puppy dog. And, in the eyes of a toddler, that sluggish dog was asking for a good poking.
Instead, he sipped on his juice box for a minute, climbed out of his chair, walked up to me, and crawled into my lap. It wasn’t a,”Mommy, I need a hug,” or even a, “I’m sleepy, Mommy,” type of moment. This was an, “I don’t feel good; I need my mommy,” snuggle.
It came out of nowhere, which should have been my neon, flashing, warning sign.
So, I cuddled him close to my chest right in the middle of a crowded Starbucks. For a minute, I rocked him, finally asking, “Baby, do you feel okay?”
His response floored me. I nearly doubted his sincerity, because toddlers are prone to storytelling. It’s all part and parcel with tiny human development.
When he said, “I threw up last night, at Daddy’s house. I threw up in Daddy’s bed,” I almost laughed. Lately, his version of throwing up has included running up to the toilet, coughing dramatically, and announcing his tummy immediately feels better. Because it’s been a recent game, I honestly doubted the very idea that he actually became ill all over his Daddy’s bed. Though, the sadistic part of me would have paid money to see it happen.
I mean, it’s only fair. There have been countless projectile vomit moments occurring at midnight, all on Mommy’s watch.
But, remembering that I had received several texts earlier in the day, one of which assured me that my tiny human had eaten breakfast before attending preschool, this seemed more like a fabrication of the truth on Tiny’s part. Still, ever the Mommy, I shot off a text, asking if baby boy had, indeed, thrown up during the night. Almost immediately, a text back confirmed that my tiny tot had, in fact, gotten sick in the middle of the night.
Along with the phrase, “But he felt just fine this morning.”
Belatedly, I did what I should have done from the moment my tiny person crawled into my lap. I felt his head. Immediately, my doubts faded away.
Tiny Tot didn’t feel well; he wasn’t spinning tales. My tiny human was sick.
And I, as his mother, had remained clueless for most of the day. For a moment, I was angry. I had missed my main main opportunity as a mother–the right to hold my angel tight–because I was never given correct information.
Every mother knows that babies get older. Along the way, in their quest to understand the world around them, they lose their desire to snuggle with Mommy. As newborns they were sang to, rocked, cuddled, coddled, and loved. Then they grew up, learned to wiggle their way out of our arms, begged for space, and searched for freedom. And we, as mothers, missed the moment. We were so busy doting over each milestone, that we forget how often they spent in our arms, as infants.
But, all that changes, and the world spins in reverse, when they fall ill.
Then they need us again.
And so it was that my tiny human needed me. I wanted nothing more than to be there for him, if only I had been clued into the fact. The what ifs faded, along with anger for not knowing, and I did what any other mommy would do–took my baby boy home to feel better.
Gone was my independent explorer with wide, learning eyes. Gone was the little boy who manages to sprout a million hands in half a second. The toys weren’t dumped onto my living room floor in free abandon, and the words, “I can do it myself!” have been placed on hold for the day.
Sure, I will spend the next few days trying to forget the fact that I didn’t immediately cover the couch in towels, and set up a throw up bucket. Hosing down blankets and clothing has now been added to my To Do list for the week. Not to mention, the feeling in my own stomach makes me regret all the kisses I rained upon my baby boy after picking him up from daycare.
And yet, no matter how much I despise my angel feeling anything short of his spunky, bouncing, wildly opinionated self, I crave the cuddle. There is nothing better than feeling a tiny angel snuggled against my chest, or being told I’m not allowed to get up and leave him alone, even to take his temperature. It means that he still remembers where he can find unmitigated love.
And I’m just selfish enough to cherish every second.