From the archive: Controlled chaos all over my shirt

This is a post from December, 2005, that first appeared on my now-defunct blog, Today in the Life. The funny thing about reading this now is the idea that I had any kind of “control” over the chaos. Em … no. Coco was our white and brindle Staffordshire terrier (a.k.a. pit bull), who died in October, 2014. 

Lei just came into her playroom where I am trying to escape my parental responsibilities and made a sign I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t the sign for HOT, but she sounded like she was saying “hot.” I followed her into the living room.

White pit bull terrier
When Coco came to live with us in October of 2005, she had heartworm and was just not well. She was in the pound, a day away from being euthanized when a rescue group swooped in and delivered her to us. She was a handful, way more than I was ready for, but she got better and mellowed out eventually. We loved her dearly.

I still don’t know what she was trying to convey, but when I got into the living room I saw a big puddle, complete with surrounding splash, of watery dog vomit. I guess it’s time to feed Coco.

Coco hasn’t been fed yet this morning because I have to make her food for her. Yes, boiled ground chuck and instant white rice, because anything else gives her the runs. She eats better than three quarters of the world’s population.

But before I could make her food, I had to wipe up the mess. I grabbed a receiving blanket – our answer to towels of all kinds – and used it to absorb the foamy liquid, then added the blanket to the bag of puked-on stuff from last night. We’re not doing so well when it comes to keeping peristalsis heading downward.

Last night was one of those doozies that tops off a week of sick baby, bad sleep, walking on eggshells (due to crankiness of said sick baby), and the desperate yearning for a sense of control over my life.

Lei didn’t go to sleep when she was supposed to, and by 10:00 I had lost my patience with her. Joel took over trying to get her to sleep. But once again she proved herself able to outlast both of us.

Separated from her frazzled, touched-out and non-maternal-feeling mom, Lei dipped into her repertoire of blood-curdling screams. She doesn’t like to be separated from mom, no matter how mom is feeling. And Daddy doesn’t cut it.

I curled up on the couch with a pair of surprisingly ineffectual ear plugs and repeated to myself that she would soon fall asleep. Nobody can scream like that forever, right? Well, I was right. Lei couldn’t scream like that forever, so she upped the ante by vomiting all over Joel. I ran into the room when I heard him yell out a loud and unmistakable obscenity.

Lei immediately jumped from his arms into mine and then doused me in regurgitated juice, chamomile tea, soggy potato chips, undigested fruit snacks (wheat and dairy free!) and whatever else her stomach had been holding just moments before. I sat down on the floor.

Cleaning up after something like that is difficult because you don’t want to turn on the lights and in doing disturb the now very relaxed toddler resting in your soggy lap. We finally did turn on the light because I had the crazy idea that if I could sign to Lei about how important it is to go to sleep when Mommy says to go to sleep, her face would light up with understanding and she would sign back to me, “YES! SLEEP NOW! I LOVE MAMA!”

Well, that didn’t happen but I was happy that Lei actually maintained eye contact for the duration of my little lecture on how Mommy gets tired from waking up every three hours to give her bottles, change her diapers, put her on the potty and listen to her playing at night. So I’m hoping something got through.

This morning I’m trying to look at last night as simply part and parcel of life with my daughter, and accept that things are often out of my control. Yesterday at the health food store she selected, seemingly guided by intuition, two natural medicines that she does actually need, and put them into our cart while I chatted with the jazz vocalist who works there. Intriguing. I recall how I first knew I was pregnant with Lei : I felt her spirit inside me before I ever suspected I had conceived. This kid is different in a lot of ways, and ordinary expectations for an ordinary life just may not be part of the deal.

So we’ll throw all those puked-on clothes in the wash, get dressed and go our separate ways today. Joel is taking Lei with him to Guitar Center, and I’m getting together with Annie for coffee, then I’ll go look for a dress for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary. When we come back together later I’m sure I’ll be ready for more of the controlled chaos of family life.

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