Parental Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry (For Cleaning Up Your Vomit)


When you’re a parent, love means never having to say you’re sorry putting up with and cleaning some of the most disgusting things imaginable.
I know this to be true based on years of experience raising three kids.

And I also know that some of the most disgusting experiences can bring a silver lining. I learned this again last night at exactly 11:43 p.m. when my sleeping son screamed for me from his bedroom.

“I’m going to get sick…” was all I heard as I ran up the stairs, two steps at a time. But no Herculean effort could match the strength and speed of the stomach flu that was taking over his body.

And by the time I opened his door, the damage was done. It looked as though an Exorcism had just taken place. I’ll spare you the details but can share the list of casualties:

1. One lampshade.
2. The strings on his acoustic guitar.
3. The insides of his new Eddie Bauer slippers.

4. Pages 56-88 of his Spanish book.

5. One bedspread, two blankets, four pillows, one bed skirt, and a bed pad.
6. The light switch on the wall (fortunately I can do simple electrical work).
7. All contents of that drawer in his night stand with the junk he can’t throw away. Guess what? It’s all now thrown away.

The list continues.

Like any good parent, after cleaning up my son, I moved him into my bed and then I turned my attention to the above list. I ran a load of laundry. Then I focused on disinfecting his room — trying my best to keep my own gag reflexes from kicking in.

And by the time I crawled back into my bed, well after 2 a.m., I just looked at my son. Sleeping peacefully. Hair still wet from the sponge bath I gave him earlier.

I remembered when he was born. I remember falling in love with him. But the falling in love part was about the potential of future memories. Happy memories. Flying-kites-kind-of-memories. Memories that didn’t include using Lysol in his bedroom at midnight.

But that’s love, too. Isn’t it?

Maybe it’s the most basic kind of love. A love that says, “I will do anything for you. Including cleaning up your vomit in the middle of the night.”

As I looked at him, I thought about how mad and frustrated I had been with him over the last couple of days. Silly things. But things that I let get into my head. Things that caused me to act much like the child he was. And all I could think about was how impossible it was to stay mad at a moment like this.


Because I love this child. More than anything. Stomach bug and all.

He gets a love from me that is his and his alone. It’s a love that means I will step in, clean up, wipe, hold, rub, sit, worry and stay very close.

Just in case he needs me we need each other.

That’s a love I like.

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