Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rash Thinking

My last post was about our daughter Eva's trip to the hospital, and our family's general not-healthiness last week. This post is not entirely about that, though I'm afraid things around here have only gotten worse.

Eva woke up yesterday morning with a rash from head to toe (I took these pictures this morning at breakfast, and they really don't do it much justice). We spent the morning getting her new cast put on and the afternoon at the family doctor for the ear infection follow-up and rash inspection. The medical opinion is that the rash is due to a virus, and that the same virus has caused the wheezy breathing and cough that Daniel had last week, and that Eva, Kyle, and I all have this week. In Eva's case, though, the doctors got a good listen to her lungs and started talking pneumonia. She is quite a mess; between the bright purple cast, the bright red rash, and the Darth Vader breathing we certainly turned some heads at Daniel's preschool drop-off this morning.

In the long term, I'm sure Eva is going to be fine. She, of course, is totally unfazed by all of this. She may look and sound sick, but is not acting the part at all. She has revived the monkey crawl from her younger days, and is destroying our house at, well, roughly the rate of any other two year-old on steroids. We had to rent a nebulizer to give her breathing treatments, and even for these she sits cheerfully in her booster seat, looking around while the steam puffs out of her little mask.

What really is going to be hurt the most by these recent happenings is the way I think of myself as a mother. Last night I was giving Polka-Dot-Eva a sponge bath and thinking to myself, "Now, how did I let all of this happen again?" This morning it was difficult to miss the moms and teachers at Daniel's school visibly cringing at the sight of Eva. Yesterday at the doctor's office and pharmacy Daniel (tired, I think, of seeing Eva get all the attention) made himself such a bratty nuisance that I could barely have a conversation with the doctor and pharmacist. I think it's easy to allow myself to think that I can always control what happens to my family, or the way my children behave, and to even take credit for them when they're being good.

Along with this comes a pressure (from myself) to uphold a certain imaginary parenting standard. And we are NOT meeting it this week. Last night Kyle was drinking the Blue Death-flavored nighttime cough medicine right out of the bottle. We are both tired, phlegm-y, and "itchy" (Daniel's word for "achy"). I have done zero housework this week, despite the fact that I am not teaching right now and my mother is coming to visit later this week. Daniel's birthday is the day after tomorrow, and we have not bought him a present yet. But nobody seems as upset about this as I am.

I had planned to spend the day today making birthday cookies for Daniel to take to school tomorrow, but the recipe (from my friend Jennifer for literally the BEST cutout cookies in the universe) requires lots of time to make, chill, roll, cutout, bake, and frost the cookies. Sometime late this morning it occurred to me that I could just buy some cookies at the store. Though I could feel the relief just at the THOUGHT of not spending my whole day on this project, I went back and forth about it for a full hour or so. Why? Do I think Daniel's teacher will think I'm a better mother for sending homemade cookies? Do I think Daniel will care, so long as there is a quarter-inch of frosting on his cookie?

I think the bottom line is that somehow I've fooled myself into thinking that store-bought cookies would be fine for other mothers, but that I should just do BETTER. That somehow, saving my kids from red dye number five and high-fructose corn syrup means that I love them more than if I don't. That having a cleaner house makes me a better person, and that I really must be the perfect from-scratch cook and mother and housekeeper. And now I sound like the latest flavor-of-the-month author on what's wrong with modern mothers (and NOBODY wants to hear about that again).

So here it is, America. My daughter looks like a contagious train wreck and I am taking her to my son's t-ball practice anyway (we'll just keep our distance). We will probably eat take-out tonight for dinner. Tomorrow I will send bought cookies to school because I took a nap today instead of baking. There are large tufts of dog hair on the floor under my dining room table, and the sheets in the guest room are not clean (okay, maybe we'll remedy that one before Thursday, Mom). We will probably be up late the night before Daniel's birthday purchasing and assembling a big-boy bicycle. And at the end of this week, at least we will have plenty of material to have a big, long, laugh at ourselves. And hopefully for everyone else's sake, this will be the last you'll have to read about the Sterup health saga.


  1. Poor Eva. You are such a great storyteller. I have a perfect image of a 2-year-old roid raging and doing a monkey crawl, as well as one of Kyle chugging Nyquil from the bottle. Praying for you guys, and good for you keeping a sense of humor about the situation, life, parenthood, etc. You were such a great encouragement to me on the phone last week and your words have stuck with and fortified me.

  2. I hope you will have that good long laugh! Go easy on yourself and rest up.

  3. too funny. Your poor family! It makes me feel so much more sane to hear that other mothers go through the exact same mental guilt trips that I give myself! I swear motherhood often looks like some sort of psychosis. (this is Janice, by the way...)

  4. Erika: This is all behind you now. I think I said that "This too shall pass." I know that didn't make your last week any easier but you have learned the lessons it took me years to learn for myself. Things just didin't go the way I always wanted them to. No matter how many lists I made somehow organization just fell by the wayside. The important thing in all of this is that your children know how much you love them. That tops homemade cookies anyday. So, let yourself off the hook and just smile and go on. You are the best mother I know...