Monday, March 9, 2015

How Not to Visit Portland

It’s tax season, time for us to impose on friends to relieve my husband of familial duties for the weekend.  It’s a win-win: Tony gets time to work even more insane hours than usual, exercise when he wants, and eat what he wants (leftovers, usually, but I imagine sometimes that others are like me and will just binge on chocolate when given the opportunity), while we get to travel, re-confirm to ourselves that we can handle life on our own for short bursts of time, and see some of the people we love most in the world who happen to live far away.


When Charles was small, this meant trips to the beach to visit grandparents and one big trip to Phoenix to visit a good friend there.  When she moved back to the PNW, we started making yearly trips to Portland.  These visits always involve children’s museums or the zoo, events like a monster truck show, copious amounts of ice cream, and cartoons.  My kids LOVE it, and I have a great time staying up late and chatting with my friend.


We left town on Friday around 11 am and made decent time to Portland, considering that we had to stop every half an hour for someone to pee.  When we arrived, the air was balmy and we took a nice walk to a local park where the big boys ran wild and Freddie played in the swing.  We ate pizza for dinner and after the boys were in bed, my friend and I settled in with a couple bottles of wine and some Girl Scout cookies.  Heaven.


That is, until the next morning, when I was awakened by vomit.  If you have kids, then you know that sometimes kids vomit and it’s nothing.  They bounce back, everything is wonderful, and away we go.  Other times, they keep barfing.  And barfing.  And barfing.  We stuck it out until late afternoon, but Jamie just wasn’t getting any better.  After all the laundry had cycled through, I packed up the car and headed home.


Am I making this sound like it was no big deal?  IT WAS A BIG DEAL.  There was no trip to the zoo.  Poor Charles, who was feeling fine, played Wii (which he adorably calls “le Wii,” like it’s French or something) all day and then begged to stay in Portland another night so we could go to a park and run around and play (there are awesome parks in Portland).  The weather was gorgeous, at least ten degrees warmer than in Mount Vernon, and the poor kid knew he was being cheated out of fun outdoor time.  Jamie puked an insane amount of fluid all over himself, the floor, the couch, the bed… My poor friend, who doesn’t have kids, nearly got the sympathy barfs.  AND she had to wash her couch cushions, which is no easy feat.


When we left, we hit such bad traffic that it took us an hour and a half just to get to Washington (should have been 20 minutes).  Freddie was screaming and Jamie threw up AGAIN all over himself and his car seat (not for the first time, I was so thankful that we have a seat protector under the car seats).  We were out of clean clothes, so I wrapped him in a blanket and zipped his jacket around him and kept going.  Charles and I ate leftover pizza during the drive and Freddie only got to get out to eat and be changed when we stopped (which we did frequently, because Jamie kept puking and everyone had to pee all the time).  I reminded myself that everyone was alive and that the accident that shut down I-5 in Portland probably claimed lives; we were making it home with ours intact and I was so thankful for that.  Count your blessings, Amelia.  They’re huge.


I’ve mentioned before that I turn into sort of an unfeeling zombie in crisis situations.  I have to.  If I get emotional or freak out, all hope is lost.  I had no one to help me, no one to count on.  I had to take care of all my boys and get us home in one piece, so I just shut down my emotions and prayed that we would make it home without any problems.  It’s effective to turn off feelings in this way, but I find that the more I have to do it, the harder it is to turn them back on.  I have a hard time feeling sympathy for my sick or uncomfortable kids.  I have a hard time feeling sympathy for my husband, whose weekend was also ruined.  In a way, I feel like even more essential pieces of my psyche are being nibbled away by these kids.  What will it take to get them to adulthood.  Will there be anything left of me?


It’s part of why I write, I guess.  This is a place to put those emotions, to see what I’m feeling and then edit those feelings until I’m satisfied. 


Jamie is home from daycare today, which means that after an hour or so at work, we are home to nap for the rest of the day.  I won’t pretend to be too disappointed since I got maybe two hours of sleep last night.  I’m allergic to something growing in Portland and the allergy attack weakened my immune system enough for me to catch a cold.  Between Freddie screaming for two hours last night, my croupy cough keeping me up, and Jamie getting up at 5:30 am because he was hungry, I’m pretty exhausted.  Still, I’d give up the nap if I could somehow make it possible for Tony to have one. 


There, sympathy.  It’s coming back.  Maybe I’ll be all right.

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