First deployment baby illness: survived!

When Aria was crying non-stop this morning, over and over again I thought about blasting on Facebook – “Help! Someone rescue me for a few hours! I’ll pay you!”

I was tired. We’d been up most of the night. I had the shadow of big projects for work hanging over my head. She was begging me to let her nurse. Pleading with every ounce of her fevered, teething, viral-infected soul. But I had nothing left to give.

When I’d pictured this weekend, I’d pictured Aria happily playing with puzzles at the nature center while I type of a kick-butt program for our summer New Teacher Orientation. Every five or ten minutes, she would crawl back to me to check in. We’d play together for a while, laugh a little, and then back to work.

It’s funny. There’s this part of me that gets stupidly nostalgic about the last deployment where I worked pretty much all the time. 12-14 hour days plus the commute more often than I could ever count.

That’s the part of me that has endless passion for what I do in education. It’s the part of me that gets on real well with DH, because he’s just as vulnerable to work-hero syndrome. It’s why he likes deploying – six months of absolute purity of purpose.

What I forget about those seven months the last time was how half a life I was living. I must have fallen asleep to “The Host” more than two dozen times. It was dark, frequently empty, and endlessly lonely.

It was that obsessive professional that wanted an out today.

But, deep within me rose the song of a more beautiful Jessica. Jessica the mother. Jessica the human. This aria, the song of my inner self, kept me grounded in the day as it was.

I embraced the cuddles and the tears. I found ways of distracting Aria so she would forget her pain for a while. I took Aria for a walk. I got her soup from Panera that failed to truly entice her.

At the end of the day, she fought more than ever before to not have to sleep in her crib. I held her and calmed her multiple times. Then finally I just rocked her and talked to her. Told her to let me know when she was ready. Told her it was no big deal. She was feeling better. She didn’t need cuddles all night. She’d sleep better in her own space.

After a couple of attempts, finally she relaxed a little. I set her down. She seemed ready. This time she only cried her normal minute or two, then drifted to sleep. We both grew up a little in that moment.

Oddly, at the end of this long, sick day, I feel really happy. I feel like this weekend was some of the best bonding time Aria and I have had.

And now, with Aria tucked away in her crib, the laundry running, the dishes done, the toys picked up, and lunches packed for tomorrow.

Now, now I will write my kick-butt New Teacher Orientation program!

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