This morning, Cakes stumbled out to the living room, sat down next to me on the sofa, and said, “Mommy, I’m still tired.”
Then she barfed all over me. And the sofa. And the rug.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but cleaning up vomit isn’t how I usually like to start my day.
Around 4:00 P.M., a headache was beginning to throb behind my left eye, and I was feeling exhausted, overworked, and even a teensy bit angry. Suddenly, I heard Cakes yell, “Oh no! I didn’t know that was going to happen!” I ran into the living room to find that she had thrown up again, but not in the bucket I gave her. This one caught her by surprise, and though I’d covered the couch with a waterproof pad, she somehow managed to throw up on the one spot that was not covered.
Poor little Cakes couldn’t eat or drink anything all day without throwing up or having diarrhea, and she’s such a tiny little miss that if she doesn’t eat for even one day, it’s very obvious. Tonight, when I was helping her get undressed for her bath, I could count every rib, and when I hug her, she’s all skinny arms and legs, pointy knees and elbows.
My children, especially when they’re sick, have the ability to elicit the strongest, and most powerful of my emotions. Where they’re concerned, there are no lukewarm feelings. Whatever I’m feeling – love, fear, anger, compassion – I feel it passionately, and I’ve often said that with Cakes particularly, there is no such thing as an emotional middle ground. She can make me laugh hysterically, or get as mad as a hornet, but she can also break my heart. As with any of my kids, when she’s sick, or hurt, or sad, I feel her pain so acutely that I sometimes think I would do absolutely anything to make it better.
Today, the way that Cakes handled her sickness truly amazed me. Whenever she had to throw up, there was no drama, no tears or hysterics. Afterward, she would politely ask me to rinse her bucket, and then she would wipe her mouth with a tissue, and return to the sofa. She accepted medicine without complaint, and whenever I brought her something, she would quietly answer, “Thank you, Mommy.”
We’ve noticed a marked change in Cakie’s personality since her 4th birthday. We could kind of see it coming, just in the last few months, but when she turned 4 it’s like God snapped his fingers, and our once rambunctious, mischievous, sometimes exasperating toddler completely disappeared, and was replaced with a calm, complacent, obedient little girl. She’s still hilarious and entertaining, but the tantrums, the arguments, the rambunctiousness…those things are gone. To be honest, my husband and I don’t quite know what to make of this new version of Cakes, which we jokingly refer to as “Cakes 4.0.”
A couple of years ago, when I was tearing my hair out over Cakie’s antics, I remember talking with another Mom, who said that Cakes reminded her of her own daughter at the same age (I was astonished, because her daughter is a friend of Bee’s, and is a shy, quiet child). I gave her a watery smile, and said, only half kidding, “So there’s hope for us after all?” She laughed, and assured me that in a couple of years, Cakes would settle down.
I’m not sure that I actually believed her, but here we are. Cakes has settled down, and I so love watching her grow, and change, and blossom into the person she will be. But, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t occasionally feel nostalgic for the old version of Cakes. The passage of time allows me to look back on it fondly, with an enormous lump in my throat, and smile. Sometimes I laugh, and sometimes I even cry, the tender, poignant tears that only a mother knows. Because new things, while exciting and different, also help us to see, with great clarity, what we love about the old.[print-me/]