"Mommy," my four-year-old daughter whispers.
I open my eyelids to a squint, defying both the force of gravity and sleep-deprivation. "What," I whisper back.
"My nose is bleeding again."
I let out a heavy sigh and glance over at my sleeping husband. What does a mom have to do to become the parent who is deemed unworthy of handling these disruptions?
All four of my children can sniff me out from the deepest, darkest closets of the house. It’s no surprise they’ll also make an extra effort to blindly feel their way around a dark room and fumble around the perimeter of the bed in order to get one inch from my face and whisper sweet nothings about wet beds and bloody noses.
I look at my daughter and then glance once again at my sleeping husband, his face peaceful and serene. I stick my tongue out at him because I’m very mature like that—but, deep down, I know he’s not the one to blame. “Just wake me up so I can help,” he’ll always say to me after I’ve given a full recap of my terrible, no good, very sleepless night. Rather than take him up on his generous offer, I lift my tired body from the bed, accepting the fact I am the chosen one. The baby would wake up soon, anyway—I could bet my Starbucks Reward Stars on it.
I usually make an extra effort to not look at the time during all of these night shifts. Knowing often makes it that much more brutal and I'd rather pretend my children come to my bedside at reasonable hours. But this time, in a lapse of better judgment, I turn over my phone and look.
After a moment of cursing the darkness, I follow the nose-bleeder out of the bedroom. Flipping the bathroom light on, I’m prepared for my daughter to look like Leonardo DiCaprio did after eating the raw liver of a bison in “The Revenant.” In case you haven't experienced nighttime nosebleeds with children, this is what they look like when they think they've been smearing snot away from their drippy nostrils all night.
"Well, that's not so bad," I begin to comment on the minimal amount of blood on her nose, until she interrupts me with a strong sneeze into her bunny. This, in turn, causes the bunny to look like it has eaten the raw liver of a bison. I run some tissue under the faucet, wipe my daughter's face, and retrieve the bunny from her hands for a quick rinse. According to my past consultations with Dr. Google Search on the topic of “what to do when my kid has a nosebleed,” this is the point when I should probably sit her on top of the toilet and pinch the lower half of her nose firmly for ten minutes. Instead, I place a towel on her pillow, instruct her to lie down on her back, kiss her forehead, and shuffle my way back to bed—bound and determined not to waste another minute (and certainly not ten minutes) of sweet sleep. As I walk past my slumbering husband, I allow myself a brief moment to contemplate smothering him with a pillow. I decide against it and collapse into bed, allowing my muscles to melt, one-by-one, into a relaxed state.
Right on cue, as if he senses my state of peace, the baby lets out a whine that quickly escalates into a full-blown cry of abandonment.
Somebody owes me their Starbucks Reward Stars.
"Can I have some of your dwink pwease, Mommy?" The children waste no time in the morning putting in their breakfast orders and trying to mooch off anything I'm trying to consume.
"I love how you asked so nicely and said 'please.' That was sweet." I continue stirring the pineapple juice and coconut La Croix in a cute, little glass. "But no, you may not."
"But I want some," the predictable rebuttal oozes from her mouth for as long as the breath in her lungs will allow.
"It's Mommy's drink." I drop a straw in the glass and slurp up the tropical flavors. But really, it's always been a little bit more than just a drink to me.
It's a little bit of fancy sitting by my side while I pour beverages and serve up made-to-order sandwiches (two open-faced PB and honeys and one folded in half, one with a side of raw carrots and two with a side of pretzels).
The drink is a little refresher for my soul after the laundry is smell-checked, rewashed, switched, fluffed and then fluffed one—ok, two more times for good measure.
It's always waiting on me, perched on the bathroom countertop as I wipe the newly potty-trained bottom and wash my hands—because that’s definitely poop, not chocolate.
Like an elegant bride juxtaposed in front of decrepit, run-down barn, my beach-inspired drink is a ray of bubbly sunshine poised amongst the pigsty that vaguely resembles my living room. It beckons me to take a moment to stop and relax.
"Just one tiny, wittle sip, pwease" my toddler persists.
I lower my cup and concede to share, because it seems my kryptonite is little children who use their manners.
In the past year, my husband has become very disciplined with running. I admire him for it. The only time you can find me running is when I'm sprinting through the house and hurdling over furniture to get to the cookies I forgot were in the oven. He, on the other hand, runs to stay healthy.
He wakes up before anyone else, runs for about 30-45 minutes, and returns to the house with a healthy dose of endorphins zipping through his body. In contrast, I can be found sporting the remainder of yesterday's eye makeup on my face, with a baby attached to my right hip, while pouring off-brand fruit loops into plastic Solo cups—because time available for washing dishes is practically non-existent (not that I’m really trying hard to make time for it in the first place).
"Kate had a nosebleed last night," I inform my husband, who is still panting from his morning run.
"Man, that stinks," he responds. “I wonder why that keeps happening.”
“She’s probably just picking her nose too much,” I shrug it off. My husband nods his head in agreement as he tosses his sweaty towel over his shoulder and heads down the hall for a shower.
"And I almost smothered you with a pillow," I whisper into my cup as I purse my lips around the straw and sip up some more bubbly sunshine.
"Mommy, why do we still not have chocolate milk?" My son stands at the refrigerator, clearly disappointed with his other beverage options.
"You'll be fine," I reassure him about the chocolate milk deficit while simultaneously reassuring myself about my current season of life.
One day this season of sleep deprivation and diapers and helpless little babes needing my assistance with the simplest of tasks will ease itself right into the next season. One day I’ll look around me and have pre-teens pestering me to buy make-up, asking why they don’t have something like all the other kids, resolving in their adolescent minds that their mother doesn’t understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. I can see the tears and angst and slamming of doors in my mind’s eye already.
A blink breaks my far-off gaze into the future and returns me back to the present moment, with my fancy drink still by my side. I lift my glass, toasting to the future version of me, and press the edge of the glass to my lips.
“I’ll be fine.”
Guest post written by Alicia Boyce. Alicia is the wife of one awesome husband and the mom of four well-traveled kids. When she isn’t drinking her thrice reheated cup of coffee while homeschooling, she’s taking photos and writing about her quirky, expat life on Instagram. She’s co-founder of the blog, Taking Route—an online community for expat women “taking root while on route,” as well as the co-host of the Taking Route Podcast.
Photo by Emily Gnetz.
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