Redefining a Good Time
When Mommy is chronically ill, "now is not a good time," takes on a whole new meaning. When Mommy is in bed most of the day, most days of the week, of the month and of the year, seeing Mommy in bed is normal.
When Mommy is vomiting and having excruciatingly violent abdominal spasms, "not a good time" is during the actual vomiting or diarrhea episodes. "A good time" to talk to Mommy is the time in between expulsions. Even though Mommy is lying in bed or, more likely, lying on the bathroom floor because she doesn't have the energy to crawl back to bed, that is still "a good time" to talk to Mommy. It's the only time my kids get. They never know when I'll be violently ill again. So, this is how our life looks:
Mommy collapses on the bathroom floor, sweating and trying to catch her breath.
The kids hear a pause in retching and poke their heads around the corner of the bathroom door.
They say, "Mommy? Are you alright?"
If I groan even a tiny noise, they shuffle onto the bathroom tile holding their schoolwork.
They fire questions at me and anything goes: detailed math questions, geography trivia, and extremely complicated philosophical questions are the norm.
They talk about friends and concerns. They cry about recess worries or homework overload or whether they'll ever be able to do a split in ballet. Sometimes they're really worried about me, but mostly they're used to it. My kids have the same stuff on their minds as their peers do; they just sit on the side of the tub to talk to mommy while she's in a disheveled heap on the cold tile floor.
I muster the energy to talk to them. My brain still works really well and I know the answers to their questions. My voice doesn't always work, but I can usually croak out something or at least nod. This is the time when poetry has been written and when debates have been practiced. Public speaking has been fine-tuned. Ideas have been created. From the floor of my bathroom! In between vomiting and diarrhea! When I start to retch or crawl to the toilet, my kids will get a garbage bag for me to puke into. They get cold washcloths for my forehead. They bring me water. When it's over, they crawl in bed with me, paper and pen in hand. They have deadlines after all.