Our first day back to “normal” after vacation was exhausting. I really was totally beat by the end of the day — I’d forgotten how much it took out of me to spend the whole day with the kids while simultaneously trying to get some laundry done, unpack from our trip and get everyone fed. Climbing into bed that night was so satisfying. I was so ready for a good night’s sleep.
Alas, it was not to be. B woke up, sick, after an hour. We spent the next few hours bathing B, doing laundry and mopping floors. There’s nothing quite like unscheduled, middle of the night housework! After a rough night all around, we spent the next few days taking care of a sick B and wondering when the illness would strike next.
Benjamin’s birthday was that Friday, July 18. By Thursday night, he was feeling pretty well, so we were hopeful that he would be able to fully enjoy his birthday. I (optimistically) baked a cake, Dan took the day off of work, and we stayed up late wrapping gifts and decorating a bit. We went to bed with our fingers crossed, excited for B’s big day.
But again, it was not to be. Liam woke us up an hour after we’d gone to bed, having his turn at the stomach illness. Again, we were up in the middle of the night, bathing Liam (5 baths in one night!), mopping the floor and laundering tons of bedding. In his case, the illness stretched out until morning, so instead of B waking us up excited and a little too early on his birthday (as is customary), Dan and I were just shuffling back to bed, well after the sun had come up, with our excited newly 6 year old put back to bed, just so we could rest for 1 hour.
Though my enthusiasm for B’s birthday was not diminished in the least, I struggled to have it shine through the haze of exhaustion that hung over later me that morning. My memory of him opening his presents is slightly befuddled by the fact that I hadn’t yet had coffee, but I remember how excited he was. I remember how well he took it when we explained that our celebratory plans for the day (a trip to the wave pool) would have to be rescheduled. He took it so well. He had actually already come to that conclusion on his own. There were no tears, no sad face. Just a quiet, unemotional, matter of fact, “I understand” that was more heartbreaking for how grown up it was.
And the rough start to the day didn’t end there. We bought the wrong squirt gun. It was the gift he had most been looking forward to, and though we got him a nice one, it was not the one he wanted. I got the wrong video game — it wouldn’t play on our console. (I feel like such a “MOM” … I didn’t know “Wii U” was a thing.) And through all of it, he was ok. A bit disappointed, but surprisingly ok.
From there, though, the day got better. He & Dan took a trip to the toy store to exchange the squirt gun (they were out of the one he really wanted, but at least he got to choose the replacement). We got to Skype with some of our family and got a surprise video message from others. He got messages and texts from (literally) around the world. Everyone got a long nap, Liam got three more baths, and B got to pick the movie for movie night. And, shockingly, everyone was well enough for a little bit of cake after dinner.
At the end of the night, Liam, who had not yet given B a gift (Mommy dropped the ball on that one because B had been sick all week), insisted on choosing a gift for B out of the things we already had in the house – which turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the day.
At the end of it all, B said, “I think this turned out to be a pretty good birthday after all.” I think that a higher compliment could not have been given.
Unfortunately, we went on to take turns being quite ill over the next week or so – it’s about 10 days after B’s birthday now, and we haven’t been well enough yet to take that trip to the wave pool, but we will soon. Regardless of how it was spent, B’s birthday was as important and as special as ever to me. It was not at all the day we had planned, but, on balance, it was a good day. I hope he felt celebrated. I feel astonished at his maturity and understanding. He is just so grown up.