Midnight Drives and Intuition


Star darkness.

“Look honey, up there, at the stars,” I said. I could hear the Puget Sound lapping less than 50 feet away from the cabin, as I loaded the wheelbarrow full of my haphazardly packed items. Did I really need to bring home this pillow? Could it be sacrificed the Gods of State Parks and Midnight Ear Infections?

I knocked on the cabin next to me, “Dad? Dad? He’s sick, can you help.”

The mismatched trio. One headlamp. One wheelbarrow. A purse, and some extra bags, holding hands up the long steep and winding hill to the car.

“I’ll text when I get home. I might stop at a hospital along the way if he doesn’t go to sleep. I was afraid this was going to happen.”

Four days earlier I had taken Potamus in for a chest cold checkup. Doc said that it’d clear up on its own in the next few days, and if it didn’t, come back in. I had gone because this was exactly what I was worried about: the midnight drive home from camping. I guess no amount of interventions can influence karma, the Universe, or the way things are supposed to be?

I pulled out of the state park into the island darkness. No GPS to guide me. No daylight to illuminate landmarks. A wing and a prayer. The evening too far goneĀ for evenĀ Coast to Coast radio.

Everything smelled like garlic, and puke, and dribbles of urine. There was coughing, and choking, and my panicked “are you okay? tell me you’re okay,” as I hurtled 70 miles per hour down the freeway, coming to a screeching halt at the fortuitous rest area. New change of clothes. The thought: in nine months this will be my new normal. The zombie-like decision making, where I’m so tired I’m not even mad (which says a lot, because I’m often awoken like a bear), and all I can think is “please be okay.”

Where did this motherhood strength come from? Was it always there? Was it bestowed when he was born, like a gift from the Good Fairies?

I admire Boof, who didn’t freak out, when I unexpectedly barged into the bedroom at 6am and said, “I’ve been driving since 4. I need a shower and to sleep. Can you sit in the car with him. He finally fell asleep after puking.”

Eventually we dozed together, the babe and I. And now we’re heading to the doctor…

When Women Don’t have your Back

Not that it’s a good day to have a sick kid, but today has been especially rough so far. We had been at daycare for less than 5 minutes when Potamus barfed. While it was probably in response to swallowing a bunch of snot, thanks to him being congested, and not something worse like the stomach flu, but I still didn’t want to chance it. Also, my kid just BARFED, how would I feel to keep him in school knowing he really wasn’t feeling well? I called Boof to see if he could drive out to pick our sick kiddo up, but his phone was off or dead and so I made the second best plan I could think of…bringing my kiddo to work for awhile to get things situated.

My co-teacher was cool with covering the class for me in the afternoon, so I prepped the classroom for the presentation, all with kid in tow. He’s hovering between feeling crummy and being impish. He was shy with some people and gave others fist bumps. And then when my students showed up he crawled around like a maniac, but as soon as class started he was annoying and I left.

But what happened before that was hard for me to understand. Our speaker is a community educator from Planned Parenthood. She teaches teens about sex and relationships and STDs. And she was a few minutes late to the class (annoying to me already) and then when I told her that I was going to have to leave, she said,

“So I’m going to be here alone?”

“Um, yeah. My kid barfed. I don’t have childcare.”

“So, that’s not okay. We aren’t substitute teachers. We need to have someone here. Isn’t there anybody else who could cover for you?”

“Um, no. Everyone else is in meetings. I’m the teacher today and I don’t have coverage.”

“Well, what would you have done if he was sick and I wasn’t presenting?”

“I would have cancelled the class. Would you like me to cancel the class today? Or do you want me to introduce you, and get them situated? They’re really good kids (it’s fucking college after all lady) and they’ll be respectful. You can even let them out early if you want.”

I guess I was taken aback by the exchange. Did she expect me to sit there with my whining sick kid to “monitor” the situation? We’re on a college campus, not in a high school, and I wasn’t expecting her to be my “substitute teacher.” While I can see that she might be nervous about the responsibilities of running a class, she’s a community educator who supposedly likes working with teens…I don’t get it. It’s not like I was leaving my class (of 16 students, FYI) with some random person who doesn’t know how to teach students. Also, she’s a woman, and a sex and relationship educator, doesn’t she understand that I am sitting there in this tricky situation WITH MY CHILD. Did she honestly think that I was ditching out on work to have a fun happy hour filled booztravaganza? I like my job. I’d rather be teaching and talking about STDS and birth control than cleaning cracker crumbs off my couch with a crabby 2 year old, ya know? It’s not like I called in sick passive aggressively from home, or emailed to say I wasn’t coming. I still came in, with a sick kid. Clearly I’m not making shit up, ya know?

At 9:30, after trying to sit through some of her presentation, with my kid crawling around, she finally said “okay, you can go whenever you want,” and I did leave…but was annoyed all the while. It’s a position I don’t want to be in. I wanted my husband to be able to take my kid so I could work. I wanted my kid to be healthy. But he wasn’t. And I’d rather have cancelled class, but since it happened 30 minutes before class, that wasn’t really an option. I just wish she would have been more understanding in the moment, though maybe that’s asking for too much from a guest speaker. But maybe I hoped for more from a fellow woman?