by Andilyn Jenkins
Forgive my late post. I know the day is nearly done, but life over here has consisted of broken nights, lots of vomit, and even more television. But last night, as I mopped up the bathroom floor because my four-year-old didn’t quite make it, I reflected on this story and have been looking for a quiet moment all day to write it down.
* * *
“I can’t be a mom,” I realized as I watched my mom on her hands and knees mopping my puke off of the white tile. I was probably thirteen or fourteen, and rushing to make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night to relieve my cramping stomach, I didn’t realize I also, apparently, had to puke. And I did. All over the floor because the toilet was occupied with my other end. I was embarrassed, tired, and sick; feelings that escalated because now my mom was awake cleaning up my putrid mess like I was a gross over-grown baby.
“Why is that, sweetheart?” my mom replied, pulling out the can of Lysol, disinfecting the mopped floor. She had rushed in after my first choked attempt of “MOM!” sounded down the hall, assessed the situation, and returned with a bowl, which she handed to me, then rubbed my back while I cried and apologized repeatedly for the disgusting mess. She told me I was fine. She was happy to clean it up for me. What are moms for? Once she had calmed me down, she gathered the cleaning supplies.
“I can’t be around other people’s puke. It always makes me gag,” I said remembering an unfortunate babysitting episode when the child had the stomach flu. “And you always clean out the shower drains,” I physically shuddered at the memory. “I can’t do that.”
“Oh, honey, you’re going to be a great mom,” she said, plopping the last wet paper towel into the designated puke trash bag. “When it’s your own kids, you’re more worried about how they’re feeling than how the puke smells. Love makes you a lot stronger.” She tied up the bag and stood to wash her hands half-way up her forearms. “And as for cleaning out the shower drains, you just need to marry somebody who will do that for you.”
I flushed the toilet and washed my hands when she finished, drying them on my personal hand towel to avoid spreading germs to my siblings. Then I brushed my teeth, watching my reflection in the mirror doubting my mom’s words and wondering how I could ever mop puke off the floor without adding my own to it.
* * *
So here I am. I hold my daughter close and wish I could remove her pain while she convulses into a bowl. I patiently mop and scrub messes and mistakes like second nature. I have to hold my breath, but my mom was right. Love has made me stronger.
And as for cleaning out the shower drains, my mom was right on two accounts. Thanks, Aaron.