Someone woke me up at 6:24, which honestly isn’t bad for this particular someone. He probably waited as long as he could, but his Nyquil-addled mother had forgotten to put a pull-up on him last night, and this morning he had a tiny accident that he was eager to keep from becoming a big accident.
So I stumbled into his room and we stumbled together into the bathroom and then everything was better except for the fact that now we were both unalterably AWAKE.
“Mommy,” he said, looking at me seriously, “We have to clean the house. Mommy, Daddy, and Eamon made a mess this week.”
Inwardly, I groaned. I had said these words last night right before he went to sleep, in that Nyquil-induced haze. I figured if I took it just before his bedtime, it would kick in right after I put him down, but I severely underestimated its power and its ability to make me hallucinate that I would get a great night of sleep and wake up fully well, refreshed, and ready to take on the world. Instead, I barely slept (again) and woke up ready to shuffle blearily from room to room muttering that we really need more tissues.
It all began Monday when a plague came to settle in our house. Eamon fell first with a runny nose and cough. On Tuesday my throat started to hurt and the air molecules kept pricking and burning my skin. By Wednesday Aaron was coughing and feeling terrible. By Thursday, Eamon had almost completely recovered and literally ran circles around both of us while we coughed and sneezed and passed the tissue box back and forth. The dishes and the dirty laundry piled higher and higher because it took all our collective energy just to make Eamon dinner and put him to bed.
Then Friday, aka last night, Aaron had to go to Alexandria for the night for work. And we both groaned, because the last thing he wanted was long car ride in traffic, and the last thing I wanted was to be left alone with a half-sized human dynamo while I just wanted to crawl under the covers and curl up with my box of tissues.
I always fear that the days when I am weakest—sick and by myself—are the days that Eamon will decide to throw non-stop temper-tantrums or tear apart the house. But I really should know better by now. Last night, he graciously accepted that Mommy was too tired to deal with dinner and acquiesced to dinner at Red Robin. He ate the chicken off my salad, MC-ed imaginary conversations between the 12 different dinosaurs we had brought with us, and afterwards we went to the mall play area outside of Macy’s so that I could sit and let the other kids tire him out as he ran around. Then we went home, I took the probably ill-advised Nyquil, and he went to bed and slept peacefully all night.
This morning, after the first burst of drama, we helped me stay committed to what would have been a laughable goal of cleaning the house to any adult…but he’s a kid and takes these things seriously. Eamon helped me load the clothes into the washing machine. He helped me take the clothes out of the dryer. When I washed the dishes, he stood on his stool beside me and handed each dirty dish to me. I taught him how to turn on the dishwasher, and we went outside to take out the trash together.
We haven’t stopped moving—Eamon because he’s always been a child-sized bundle of energy, and me because I fear inertia: if I stop moving, I might not start again. We wander from room-to-room, putting away clothes, tidying here or there.
I’m not saying it’s been perfect. At one point, after we tidied the den, he took a pack of cards and threw them into the air so they blanketed the ground. He immediately heard my gasp and saw my look of horror. “Oh no, mommy,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’ll cooperate. Here, I pick up cards.” And he picked them all up and put them on a TV tray.
“I cooperated, mommy,” he told me again. “I am a superhero.”
And I threw my arms around him and told him that yes, yes he was.