Grateful for Guilt

Please. Stop. Pooping.

I have been asking everyone in my house this for six days. At some point at the end of last week, the stomach bug hit our house. It started with my husband. We immediately quarantined both myself and the baby to try and keep both of us healthy. I even sent the baby to grandma’s house to keep him healthy. But it didn’t work; Logan got sick too.

Our schedule went like this:
He eats. He poops while eating. I change him so he doesn’t get a rash. He screams because he already has a rash. I forget that I was feeding him. He continues screaming because he’s hungry. I finish feeding him. He poops again while trying to burp him. I change him so his rash doesn’t get worse. He spits up because I laid him down before he could burp. I leave his diaper off so he can air out to heal the rash. There’s spit up curdled in his hair. He pees on me. I stick him in the bath. He pees in the tub. I dry him off and get him diapered up and dressed. He spits up again. I put him in his activity chair. He explosion poops. I clean him up and get him settled. I try to remove the poop stain from his activity chair. He starts screaming because it’s time to eat again. Repeat every three hours…..

I’ll admit, it sucked.
The first few days, I was also taking care of Johnathan who was pretty much down for the count. I know I laid down at night but I don’t really remember sleeping. Wednesday was probably one of the worst days, in terms of just pure exhaustion. I even had my mom here helping me for part of the day once Johnathan was well enough to go back to work and I was still at the end of my rope.

At one point during the day I texted Johnathan and said, “This is, exhausting.” I was over it. I was starting to get bitter. I was mad that he had gone back to work and wasn’t there helping me or hearing the baby scream. I was mad that I had to do laundry in the midst of all of that. I was mad that, even though I never got sick, I was just so exhausted. When he got home from work, I handed the baby over to him and decided to run an errand on my own. I needed 10 minutes alone – away from the screaming and the poop.

As I was pulling out of the driveway, I noticed several of our neighbors out in their driveways looking up into the sky over our house. As I turned onto our street I saw what they saw – an enormous pillar of smoke. It was coming from a few houses behind us. I rolled down the window and talked to a few of the neighbors as I left the neighborhood. No one knew much other than there was a big fire up the road.

I called our neighbor who lived behind us to make sure they were safe. She assured me they were and told me she could see flames from her kitchen. The small house next to them – one that had been on our road for as long as I’ve lived in this town – was engulfed in flames.

From the front of our neighborhood you could see about four firetrucks, three cop cars, and an ambulance. I don’t know how long the fire had been going but the flames were pretty big – a good 20-30 feet in the air. A few of our neighbors went to check out the situation and said there was absolutely nothing left of the house that once stood there – it was complete ashes.

I ran my quick errand to the grocery store in complete silence. I couldn’t get the image of that pillar of smoke out of my head. I could still see the orange glow from the flames in my rearview mirror. I had never met this family that lived nearby. I don’t know if they had children. There was a trampoline in the yard that had been there for years. It could’ve been theirs? Maybe it belonged to their grandchildren? The only thing I knew was now they had nothing.

The day before Thanksgiving, this family’s home went up in smoke. All while I sat safely in mine complaining about how hard my day had been. I suddenly felt incredibly guilty.

The thing is, my day was hard. Their tragedy doesn’t invalidate my own pain. But their experience did allow me to have some perspective. The roof over their head completely vanished in one night. Their home – the memories, the safety, their livelihood – was gone. They didn’t know what tomorrow would hold.

Did my house still need to be disinfected again? Yes. But at least I still had a house to clean. Did I have a difficult routine of diaper changes and spit up to return home to? Yes. But at least I knew what I was going to be heading home to. Did I suddenly feel guilty for sitting in my house festering in my own anger all day? Yes. But I am so grateful for that guilt.

I am grateful to have a home that is still full of germs. I am grateful to have a bed I’ve barely slept in this week. I’m grateful I can afford diapers my son can poop in 100 times a day. That guilt is a reminder of all the things I have to be grateful for. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the guilt.

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