jesus and the stomach flu

On Tuesday night, 8 pm, I heard a barbaric yawp from my daughter’s bedroom.  Untamed, and untranslatable, yes; but nothing to sing about, in my opinion.

In other words, the stomach flu had arrived, and visited itself first upon my 3 year old daughter, the one who still has two rows of stitches in her head from recent encounters with a park bench and a farm dog.

I spent the next two days honing my ability to predict the exact moment when a child will vomit (I am an EXPERT now).

Then Friday morning dawned, and both of my kids were still sick, and I had to face reality: I called to cancel my flight to Denver Friday evening.  It was supposed to be my Christmas present, a long weekend in Denver with my two best friends and newborn baby Etta (also two husbands, a dog named Macaroni, a brother and sister-in-law, and hopefully an aunt and uncle and cousins too, but I digress).

I had been dreaming of long talks over drinks with my lifelong friends, of seeing the mountains again, of shopping and indulging and relaxing. I had even been dreaming of the eight hour transit time each way (shuttle, airport, airplane): time to read a book without interruption, time to actually listen to Silver and Gold all the way through, time to write a Christmas newsletter, time to buy a mocha and drink it before it got cold.

the kind of gallivanting girls we are (or used to be)

I had not been dreaming of endless vomit-stained laundry. But I knew I shouldn't risk taking my germs to that sweet baby Etta.

I cancelled the trip, and spent the day awash in self-pity.  On Saturday night, when we were supposed to attend a good old-fashioned carol sing around the piano, instead the virus finally hit Jack and me, too, and I... I will spare you the details. Suffice to say that by Monday morning the whole family is fine, a bit exhausted and achy and weak, but fine.

In the midst of depression and self-pity, I updated facebook, hoping for some sympathy:
This happened at least once today: Owen vomiting into my hand while Rosie, 2 feet away, doesn't even blink, keeps going, "Pretend you just got a package and you didn't know, but you were so surprised to see that it was a tiny bird, and when you touched it, it turned into the queen kitty..."

So much of motherhood is like this.  Physical, dirty, overwhelming, demanding, sensory overload. Both children clamoring for your attention at once, and even if they're being charming, what you really need is to go clean up the mess in your hands. And all of it happening while you're sacrificing your own desires and plans. 

I thought a lot about Mary this weekend.  How Mary, teenage mother, faced both the common challenges of motherhood and the challenges of raising the divine.  How she surrendered so much of her own hopes and dreams for her life to God with “let it be.”  How she probably had to repeat that "let it be" to God over and over throughout her life, re-affirming her submission to his plan.  

And I thought about Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing  by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

I thought about Mary, and Jesus, and I prayed; I prayed that my own tendency to self-pity would be scrubbed out of me, and that I would more willingly take on the nature of a servant.  

So here I go. After my intimacy with the toilet bowls this weekend, I’m fully aware of how much they need scrubbing, too. I’m off, singing a song not of myself, but of the One who teaches me how to keep saying let it be.