Friday, July 12, 2013

A TINY Glimpse of Hell

We all have fears.  Fear of heights.  Fear of death.  Fear of public speaking.  Fear of spiders.  Fear of small, enclosed spaces.  The list goes on.

As a mother, I have my own set of "mommy fears." They almost all involve harm to my children in some form or another.  Some of my fears involve harm to me or my husband which would then result in emotional harm to my children.  Some of my fears are worse than others.  Some are terrible, unspeakable tragedies that befall thousands of families every year.  Some are nonsense, but fears nonetheless.

This week one of my greatest, nonsensical fears came to pass.

This week my family got...LICE.

I am tempted to stop my blog right here because there are just no words for this.  No.  Words.  But I'll do my best because it's important that I continue my quest at keeping it real.  

This was no ordinary weekend.  This was the weekend after the 4th of July.  This was a weekend in which we had company...dear friends of ours who come every year for the 4th of July.  The same dear friends who were here in February when my oldest daughter got the flu...the only time in the existence of our family that we have dealt with the flu.  These wonderful friends came back...again...even though the most ridiculous things happen when they come.  Somehow they still love us enough to enter crazy.  

We had had a great weekend.  A longer than usual visit with them as the 4th fell on a Thursday and they took Friday off of work.  We got 4 whole days with them!  Such fun!  We don't see each other for months at a time, so 4 days with them was something I had eagerly anticipated!  We had a picnic in the park.  We watched fireworks.  We swam.  The kids slept all over the floor in sleeping bags.  We grilled.  We watched movies.  We talked and chatted and laughed until Saturday night.

Saturday night.  When I got a tiny glimpse of Hell.  Saturday night.  When my nonsensical fear was no longer a fear, but a reality.  Saturday night.  When the "itching" of the last two days suddenly made perfect sense.  Saturday night.  Loathe.  

My friend, Terri, and I were marching the littles off to bed that night discussing the movie we were going to watch and plans for the next day after church.  As I was brushing the last head of kid hair after bath time, I started noticing some strange bite marks on the back of Daughter #1's neck.  "Do those itch?" I asked.  "Yes.  And so does my head," she said.  My mind quickly jogged back in time to my own shower earlier in the day when I scrubbed my hair, not once, but twice, because my scalp seemed so...itchy.  My neck had been itchy as well.  I attributed all of this to lots of ponytails, time in the sun, sweat, water.  Whatever.  Because I was NOT going to let my mind go a nonsensical fear.  No way.  But here I was standing in the bathroom with #1 at 10:30 on Saturday night, holding my breath as I parted the top of her hair.  And there they were.  Those demon bugs.  The ones that have met me only in my nightmares.  #1 had lice.  Horror.  

I rushed to get Terri to confirm this tragedy.  She did.  I then burst into the bedroom where Daughter #2, Daughter #3 and their friend (we'll call her F1 for simplicity's sake) were tucked away in sleeping bags.  "WHOSE HEAD ITCHES?!?!"  One hand after another lifted high in the air while other hands scratched away making me wonder if there would be any flesh left on any of their scalps come morning.  "Everyone to the bathroom NOW!"  If I thought #1 having lice was horror, I'm not sure what word I can use to describe my feelings when I found Satan's little helpers crawling around on #2 and F1.  Panic?  Terror?  Disgust?  Dread?  Fear?  I can't really conjure up a word at this point.  Let's just say I was FREAKING OUT!

Out the door I went, thankful that we have a 24 hour pharmacy within a mile of our house.  For all I knew these bugs could have been living with us for a week, but now that I knew they were here they had to be decimated.  Immediately.  After spending a small fortune at Walgreens (keep in mind we had 10 heads to treat.  Ten Heads!  Tragic.) I came home to begin a very long night of hair combing and scalp examination.  In my absence, the very helpful children had gathered every pillow, blanket, sleeping bag, comforter, sheet, hat, scarf, outfit, towel, etc. they could find.  If hair had touched it, if hair was capable of touching it, I demanded it be added to the pile.

We will now take a moment to discuss Lice Laundry as it deserves it's own segment.  It's own paragraph.  It's own zip code!  Lice Laundry will be in Hell.  There will be a special room in Hell where people will be required, by Satan himself, to do Lice Laundry.  I can't begin to get you to wrap your brain around the sheer AMOUNT of laundry I am talking about.  We had 10 people who had been living in this house for 3 days.  We had used EVERY towel we own for bathing.  We had used EVERY beach towel we own for swimming.  We had used EVERY bed for sleeping.  EVERY pillow for lounging.  Extra linens from the closet for picnicking, throw blankets for snuggling, you name it, our heads had been on it.  We own 9 comforters (don't even ask me why...this is a problem in excess that I will now be looking further into) and 4 sleeping bags.  We had used them.  ALL.  

And then there are the unlaunderable (just go with it), inanimate objects that overflow from every nook and cranny of this not-so-little house.  These would be the stuffed animals.  I don't know if my children have an strange, over-abundance of affection to offer, but apparently we own EVERY stuffed animal EVER created for them to love on and fawn over.  They were coming down the stairs in the hundreds, possibly thousands.  I am sure of it.  Black trash bags filled with potential lice-carrying hellions everywhere.  

And the lice treating began.  One little head at a time.  We started with Daughter #4 who is only 1 year old.  Bless her, she didn't have a clue what was going on.  It was 11 PM.  She was still out of bed.  There was a pile of clothes (ideal for jumping in!) spread out over the entire downstairs.  And mommy was yelling.  A lot.  #4 was being dowsed in some kind of stink that she wasn't allowed to eat or touch.  Confusion ensued.

Daughter #3 next.  Then #2.  F1.  Each sent to bed as we were now well into tomorrow.  As we sat #1 down to begin the combing process, it became apparent that this is where the havoc began.  Surely.  As I was wiping out each combful of these demon thieves who were stealing my sleep, my joy, my daughter's blood, I was freaking out.  Silently.  Behind her where she couldn't see my silent screaming.  And where my friend was trying to silent reason with me, reminding me that my freaking out was not helpful for an 8 year old at 2 am.  Noted.

We went to bed at 4 am.  After 10 heads had been treated.  After I had put a tiny, minuscule dent in the Lice Laundry (Yes, it will continue to be capitalized out of sheer respect for it's magnitude...think national monument, mountain, small get the idea.)  We curled up on beds of nothing.  No sheets, no blankets, no pillows.  Go ahead, shed a tear for us.  It was a sad, sad 3.5 seconds of sleep after which we woke to do the very tasks that would consume my next 5 days: head checking and Lice Laundry.

I will spare you the details of the next 5 days, the monotonous torture that was my life.  I started to slip into the depths of lice-covered despair with every head check, every nit pulled out and flushed down the toilet.  5 days of what felt like prison, trapped in my own house with nowhere to go, not wanting to chance sending Satan's little minions to the heads of other unsuspecting hosts.  5 days of misery with tiny glimpses of light and love.  My glimpses of light and love came in the form of people. 

This brings us to the more uplifting portion of our segment.  This is where we will give thanks to the brave men and women who sacrificed time and chanced personal head-hygiene to help this desperate mother of 4 in her hour of need.  This goes out to my heroes.

Terri: Had I been you, visiting friends when lice chaos ensued with a myriad of daughters and more hair than humanly imaginable, I would have packed up our belongings in black trash bags, given you an air hug from the door and bid you adieu.  But you stayed.  You survived on lack of sleep and very little nourishment (did we even eat?) to help me comb and comb and comb.  You solidified your position (as if it needed any more solidity) as one of the dearest friends a girl could ask for as you even combed through my hair at 3 am.  You have endured more text messages this week than AT&T should allow and listened to my endless hours of whining.  You are an amazing friend.

George (Terri's husband): Thank you for vacuuming carpet, spraying cars and furniture with lice spray, dashing to Walgreens at a moment's notice for more spray and bobby pins and milk and baby butt cream (Note: Baby butt cream was completely unrelated to was milk.)  Thank you for being at my beck and call even though I'm not your wife.  Thank you for enduring my freaking out and the craziness that comes with a house full of lice-covered females.

Suzanne (my neighbor / 24 hour on-call school nurse who was on a trip with family this week): Thank you for letting me use your washing machine/dryer to wash pillows and comforters while you were away.  Thank you for responding to the 2,417 phone calls and text messages, the endless lice questions, and being yet another source reminding me that it'll be ok and that we aren't the dirtiest people on the face of the earth for having lice.  Thank you for all of your reassuring words and your endless knowledge of all things medical.  I wish I had a 1/16 of your's so smart.

Patricia (our women's leader at church):  Thank you for coming to my rescue after my 18th freakout on Monday night.  Thank you for going to the store for Cetaphil and chocolate (the Twix bars you brought served as two of my meals this week.  No judging.)  Thank you for helping me treat heads even though the method was...weird...and rock a baby and entertain my children as I...wait for it...combed through hair and did Lice Laundry.

Donna (a sweet woman from church):  Thank you for taking our friendship to a new level as you sat in my kitchen at midnight and went through my hair since I can't see the top of my own head.  There are few "church people" that have been on this level of real with me.  Congratulations.  I will now call you every time disaster strikes.  

Lisa D. (another sweet woman from church): Thank you for moving the Tuesday night gathering at my house to your house on very short notice.  Exposing a houseful of women to lice was not my intention when these meetings began.  It's interesting that our study is on the book "Unglued."  Coincidence?  I think not.  

Lisa F. (we have a lot of sweet women at church):  You know why I love you.  That's all I'm gonna say.  

Thank you to a kind friend who reminded me that lice don't care about our SocioEconomic Status.  This helped keep my vanity in check.

The Hubs: Thank you for staying in Estrogenville + Lice this week.  Thank you for continuing to hug me and for not shaving the childrens' heads.  Thank you for helping with late night vacuuming and stripping/remaking beds.  Thank you for coming home early to help with dishes and cleaning and letting me take a shower in peace and quiet.  Thank you for helping with bedtime while I...combed through hair.  Thank you for living in crazy awesome with me.  You're my favorite.

Well there you have it folks.  This was my week.  I learned how much laundry can actually be done in 5 days if you skip meals, sleep and interaction with the other human beings in your house.  I learned how many hairs are on each of my childrens' heads.  I learned that I can conquer my nonsensical fears.  Here's to hoping that I am not forced to overcome anymore anytime soon (i.e. driving across bridges over large bodies of water, finding/drinking a fly in my coffee, shopping without coupons.)

Oh and if you think lice are no longer on my Nonsensical Fears list, you are right.  They have moved up a notch and now hold a position on my Actual Fears list as they are truly a tiny glimpse into Hell...where there will be lice.  Just one more reason not to go there.    

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Failure At Awesomeness

I love Facebook, and I hate Facebook.  It is a source of constant addiction for me.  But I have decided that it is also the 21st Century version of "keeping up with the Jones'..." (which is ironic since that's the name of my husband's maternal side of the family...sigh.)  I realized this when a friend of mine called and commented on how clean my house always is.  My thought: Have you seen my house lately?  Are you losing eyesight?  Should we contact an Optometrist?  Who is this?  Do you even have the right number?  I went on to explain the great lengths I go to to only publish pictures where you can't see the PILES of clothes, toys, dishes, bills, trash, etc. in the background.  Most of the time I angle the camera in such a way just so you can't see all of that.  I have even been known to shove the pile to the other end of the table just to give the illusion that my table is clean.  I think most people do that...maybe not to the extremes I go to, but to some degree.  We don't want anyone to see our mess.  We want to "publish" a perfect life.  We want the world to see our awesomeness.  Plain and simple.  If my 707 Facebook "friends" think I'm awesome, it must be true.  Right?  Wrong.

Since this whole blog is dedicated to laying it out there, to being real, let's do it.  It's my life in a fishbowl.  And let me tell you, I need a plecostomus!  Ya know, a sucker fish.  The ones that thrive in the murky water of a fishbowl.  The ones that you put in with your goldfish whose tank you never clean in hopes that they will eat all the algae and other freakish nastiness that has grown on the sides of the tank.  I need one of those.  Because...

I am FAILING at awesomeness.  I mean, I am miserably failing.

Let's start with the house.  Ok, seriously people, how many times can I step over the exact same stuff and not just bend down and pick it up?  Apparently for weeks.  I have been standing on the same Baby Animals book while I brush my teeth and do my makeup for at least a week.  Unless my toes learn to read, I don't think it's going to do me much good down there.  

About a month ago I brought our basket of cleaning supplies up to our bathroom....because, well, the bathroom should be cleaned at least twice a year.  That particular day I put the basket in the bathtub to keep the chemicals out of a one year old's reach.  They are still there.  It's been a month.  A MONTH.  I know The Hubs is wondering if this is the new designated cleaning supply spot.  And has the bathroom been cleaned?  Nope.  I guess the cleaning supplies don't do it themselves.  Dang!   

We can go right on from the bathroom to our bedroom.  Why did I EVER think I needed that many pillows on the bed.  Honestly.  There must be 42 of them, and they are everywhere.  And do you think they ever make it to the bed?  Nope.  Unless company is coming.  And the cedar chest at the end of the bed is intended to be decorative.  Maybe my laziness didn't get the memo.  The top of the cedar chest now serves as a dresser, a shoe stand, a coat rack, and a holder of anything left on my bed when I crawl into it at night.   

Downstairs we go.  The only reason my dishes get done is because my husband usually does them.  I live in a constant state of 367 loads of laundry.  I can't get my act together enough to make it to the grocery store for everything I need, so I usually end up going at least four times in any given week. 

I have weeds in my backyard that are taller than my children.  One of said children is almost 9 (and her mother is 6 feet tall) so you can figure out how tall the weeds are.  I found my mother and my next door neighbor back there pulling some of the weeds the other day.  My neighbors are pulling my weeds.  For real.  It's bad.

I have taken my crabby baby to the store two days in a row now in a shirt and a diaper.  Why?  Because I get so busy running errands that I forget that occasionally her diaper needs to be changed.  So eventually the soaking wet pants have to come off.  And then there is the "bruise" that is covering her entire thigh.  It's actually a stain from frozen blueberries that got past her mouth and melted next to her leg, but to get it off would require a bath and who has time for that?!?!  

I live in workout clothes and a ponytail because I figure if I put them on my body I may just magically appear at the gym.  On the days that I do make it there, it's really just to watch tv while I saunter on the treadmill, because thank you, Jesus, it is so peaceful with my headphones in my ears!  And there is childcare.  Can I get an AMEN??

I have been sneaking dark chocolate for the past week...until my husband found the wrapper.  I "nicely" explained that every 28 days or so I get chocolate in celebration that we are NOT having another baby.  So. Back. Off.

I have piles of books that would help me improve my life or something but I don't read any of them because every time I do I wake up with the book on my face.  And speaking of reading, I can't finish a book to save my life.  Not always because I fall asleep but sometimes because I get 2 chapters in and then start another one.  I used to finish things.  Is ADD contagious?  I'm pretty sure I caught it.

We had to give our goldfish to the neighbors because we never fed them and that seemed mean.  Now we have 2 hermit crabs.  Did you know that you can actually go 2 weeks without feeding them and they will still live?  It's fascinating.  Our dog and cat on the other hand like to be fed on occasion.  It usually happens every 2nd or 3rd day when I realize that I can see their ribs through their fur and the dog is whining to get into the shower to drink the water left on the floor.  The worst part is that when I tell the kids to feed them, their response is usually, "we already fed them this week!"  That is what I have actually instilled in my children about taking care of living creatures, you guys.  The awesomeness continues to another generation.

I found my baby sucking on a tube of toothpaste today.  

I fed my 4 year old Target popcorn and an Icee for lunch.

And the climax of my awesomeness demise happened this morning.  When I forgot to pick up my friend's daughter for school.  Yep.  She's a Senior in High School.  It's kind of an important week to be there.  I forgot her.  Left her sitting by her front door wondering if the preacher's wife has any brain cells left at all.  Her fiancĂ© left work to come get her for Heaven's sake.  Awesomeness Fail.

As I was lamenting today about how bad I am at life right now, the Lord reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

All I have to say is the next Marvel movie better be about me and Jesus because if my weakness gives Him more power, The Avengers better watch out!  Jesus' got my back!

So there you have it.  From one awesomeless mom to another, tomorrow is another day to let Jesus do His thang!  Cause I sure can't pull it off myself!