At approximately 12:45pm today I was scrubbing the kiddie cart attached to the grocery cart at Target. Both kids were in the car eating gummie bears. They had not yet eaten lunch. I was hunched over the cart, my backside hanging all too closely to the traffic in the Target parking lot, and I realized that I had only eaten a piece of toast with peanut butter on it, a cheese stick, and a cup of coffee this morning. No wonder the heat was getting to me. If you think me a thoughtful Target shopper for cleaning up my cart after using it, then I want you to hold that thought in your brain while you read the rest. Perhaps you will think well of me for another 60 seconds until you get to the end.
We traveled to Texas this weekend for my Grannie's 90th birthday celebration. It was a great time! It's been far too long since I'd seen my Grannie, aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins' offspring. A good time was had by all. Some highlights are below:
After renting a car in Dallas, we began a journey down to Mabank, Texas that ended with Sean puking all over the back seat of the rental car: chunks of hotdog and strawberries mingled with the smell of stomach acid, and the car was not a place you wanted to be. We stopped on the side of the road (but a mile from my aunt and uncle's lake house), stripped Sean down to nothing, pulled out suitcases from the back of the car, and got Sean clean clothes. He whimpered while we dressed him, and his favorite part of this mishap was getting to ride in the front seat on Tom's lap for the rest of the 1 mile trip.
Tom: I feel sick to my stomach now.
me: Don't do it! Stop breathing it in! We can not all get sick in the rental car!
Upon arriving at the house and seeing his cousins, Sean forgot all about his puking-in-the-rental-car-scene and ran off to play. We never saw a lick of illness from him again.
The next day Susie and I rode the jet ski across the enormous lake, Susie was screaming at the top of her lungs, clutching my middle while I rev'd the engine.
me: We are going 14 miles per hour.
Saturday night we had a skit put on by the 4th generation Agniel/Herbert grandkids called "Cinderella at the Farm" and it was inspired by a budding actress in our family, Abigail Barni. She has a glowing future ahead of her in creating stories and theatre, and she gathered many cousins to play the different parts in the skit. When I asked my nephew, Theo, if he wanted to join in, he had some specific things to say about his role.
Theo: (knowing the title had Cinderella in it) I want to be one of the mice.
I had to search my brain for the mice in Cinderella, but I quickly picked up what he was talking about.
me: Okay, that sounds great!
Theo: But I don't want to be Gus Gus. I just don't want to be the fat one.
Throughout the weekend, the lake house had a constant din from all the kids running around, and there was action happening in every room. We had food and drinks out at all hours of the day, and my favorite scene involved looking at the island in the kitchen filled with rows upon rows of red plastic cups, each marked with a family member's name on it. Given that our party approached 60 people, we needed a lot of cups. You could find groups of people talking around the kitchen table, the patio out back, the deck on the water, lounging on couches, or helping the little kids play bingo, corn hole, decorate cookies, or play pool.
As part of the celebration for Grannie's 90th, we put on a "This is Your Life" skit and had a slideshow with tons of pictures. There were cupcakes that were delicious (thank you, Katie!), happy birthday was sung, and there were presents for Grannie. Yet through all of the merriment and re-connecting with family, our little Audrey was cranky. Her usual gentle demeanor was replaced with whining and crying. Her usual easy going attitude and quick smile was replaced with a constant "no" and shake of her head for anyone who touched her and a quick scream when she didn't get her way. This was not the personality we see at home. I chalked it up to the huge molars coming in on both sides of her bottom gums.
Tom and I didn't get much sleep. Partially I'm proud of that, because we had two great nights of hanging out with cousins around the hotel after kids were asleep. But as I crawled into bed around 12:30pm each night, I was woken only an hour or so later by a crying, screaming Audrey who could not be consoled. She ran a low-grade fever, and she fought me every time I tried cramming Orajel in her mouth.
This morning, I called the doctor to get her an appointment, and after getting off the phone with the nurse, I looked at Audrey's hands and feet. What had seemed like little mosquito bites and a terrible diaper rash had turned in Leprosy. She had huge lesion-looking welts all over her hands, feet, toes, and some cropping up around her mouth. I got increasingly concerned and was grateful for our doctor appointment. As I relayed to the pediatric nurse all of Audrey's symptoms from the weekend, I explained about her teeth coming in, how we alternated between tylenol and ibuprofen every 3 hours, and how she still seemed to be in pain. I then explained that she had these lesions showing up around her hands, feet and mouth that seemed to explode this morning.
nurse: Have you ever heard of hand, foot, and mouth virus?
nurse: She has it.
I paused. Weren't we supposed to see the doctor? How could she diagnose that so easily?
Sean: Mama, can I have a drink of Audrey's water?
nurse: Nope. No sharing. She's very contagious.
My heart sank to my stomach. Not only had I allowed Sean to finish Audrey's milk this morning, but we had just come back from a fun-filled-60-person-family-reunion! Audrey could have infected anyone and everyone! I felt awful.
So it wasn't until I had both kids strapped into the kiddie cart at Target and we were headed through the aisles that I realized something. I probably should not have this child out and about! I quickly did my shopping, making sure to keep Audrey only in the cart and nowhere else. However, her leprosy-hand-foot-mouth disease seemed to flare under the fluorescent lights, and I felt that every single mother could see them from miles around. I was endangering everyone! I moved as quickly as I could, feeding the kids cheese sticks, grapes, and milk in the store. After piling most all the groceries in the cart, only needing two more items, Sean began melting down. I became desperate and walked towards the candy.
me: (speaking quietly and forcefully) Sean! If you stop whining and crying, I will get you a special treat.
He stopped and looked up at me with tears in his eyes.
Sean: What kind of special treat, Mama?
me: Well... (I perused the candy aisle) I will get you.... gummie bears. But you must -
Sean: (whining) Can I hold them??
me: If you stop whining, then yes, you can hold them.
At the checkout, my eyes searched the candy shelves again and I put a Mounds bar in the cart for me. My mothering knowledge of feeding my kids healthy food, or less than that, feeding my kids something substantial before feeding them candy completely fell away. I couldn't get out of the store fast enough, but not before I had something to comfort myself with. Something to promise both them and me that we would be rewarded for making it through. I could feel Big Brother aka the CDC watching me through hidden cameras, judging me for having a child with hand-foot-and-mouth-leprosy OUT IN PUBLIC. Who does that?? Me. That's who. And I buy gummie bears and a candy bar. I have hit rock bottom.
And that, my friends, is why I was scrubbing the kiddie cart at Target on a nearly empty stomach. And that's why my two kids ate gummie bears for lunch. And that is why after completing this post, this hand-foot-and-mouth-leprosy mother will reward herself with a candy bar.