It was my fortieth birthday.
I started to feel ill during dinner. I had thought it was just the rich dessert. But, by 5 am the next morning, I knew it was the stomach flu. My husband had woken up at 4 to catch a very early flight for a business trip.
And, I was alone with a four year old and a two year old. A stay at home mom, I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have a boss I needed to call, at least.
I went downstairs around 7, after having my head in the toilet for the better half of three hours. I attempted to make my girls breakfast. I was halfway through pouring the Cheerios when I had my head in the sink. I cleaned myself up and continued with the task of pouring juice and Cheerios.
Then again, I was sick. I almost made it to the toilet.
My girls stood by, holding hands and watching me clean up my mess.
“Mamma. why you make wah-duh on the floor?” asked my two year old.
“Yeah, Mommy, why do you keep doing that?” my four year old demanded.
“I must have caught that bug you ladies had last week,” I said weakly.
“A caderpillar bug?” asked my sweet two year old.
“NOT a caterpillar,” corrected my four year old sternly. “Mamma’s sick.”
I explained to my girls they would have to pour their own cereal as the sight of food made me violently ill.
I sauntered off to rest on the couch. I heard my girls rambling about in the kitchen, banging cupboard doors and opening drawers. Minutes later, they approached the couch carrying a cutting board in their hands.
“Here ya go, Mamma.”
On the cutting board was a plastic tea cup or two full of water, some crackers and an icy cold wet washcloth they promptly threw on my forehead.
“Mamma sick. We take care of Mamma.”
The rest of the day, I lay on the couch and allowed myself be tended to by two little toddler nurses. They fussed over me, tucking me in with various baby blankets and pillows. Occasionally I had a doll thermometer shoved in my ear and I know a crayon was somehow involved in the mix. But, I had what I needed: water, scraps of food and the love of two little girls, intent of making me feel better. What can get better than that?