I have to tell this story – but it truly isn’t mine to tell. This happened while I was spending time with my mother and my new niece. I was so glad to be able to come. It is such a pleasure to be home. To be where people speak my language and chat with me on the plane or in a line. To eat pizza and bagels, to be able to hold an incredibly cute Julia Jenna – who is already smiling at 3 weeks of age. I forgot my camera but, rest assured, she is gorgeous. I got to read a book or two, eat meals in peace and spend real time with my sister and mom, just hanging out, without 3 kids nipping at my heels. Of course, all of this was only due to the fact that André, hand in hand with the French government and culture, was taking care of things at home.
The kids were allowed to go into after school care for the week, free of charge, and, at work, his management was fine with him taking some hours off this week and working a bit more next week. I am grateful we are living in a country so supportive of families. I told him not to really worry about the house or chores - the only thing I wanted to come home to was children that were alive.
Next time, I’ll need to be more specific.
Monday night he fed the kids beans for dinner. He had dumped the beans and water into the crockpot for several hours and served them soft and yummy. A few hours later he, Callie and Zander all woke up vomiting. Turns out that cooking beans until they are soft does not break down their proteins. If you don’t boil them, they are poisonous. Griffin’s incredibly rapid digestive system was on his side this time – seems he pooped it all out before things got toxic. For as long as I can remember, whenever the kids ask what is for dinner I answer by saying, “Poison” This time – it really was!
The same day André was attempting to handle terribly sick kids and calling a doctor to make a 3am house call (yes they do that in France), I was entering doctor’s offices with my mother. The first thing you see is a large sign telling you, in large letters, that: “Co-pays must be paid in full before any treatment is given.” I was noticing how the office had an administrative assistant and at least 3 nurses. What a contrast to the offices in France! I call a service to make the appointment but once I arrive the only staff is the doctor. He weighs me, takes my blood pressure, checks me out, deals with the paperwork, collects the money, writes the prescriptions and then moves along to the next patient. While I was with my mom, someone came in the room to remind her it was a new year, and she would have to meet her deductible! (Keep in mind she has great insurance). On the other hand her nurse, Marty, chatted and talked with my mom for hours. She’s funny, bright and says “Golly Day!” when she’s surprised. (She also describes the more troublesome patients as ‘ornery’ which is my new word of the week) I know her care and love will be with my mother while I’m in France, and that kind of love and attention is not easy to come by.
Meanwhile in France, the emergency doctor arrived, took a cursory glance around and proclaimed there was no need to worry. Since it was not infectious, and André didn’t want to miss work, everyone even went school the next day. Of course André called me to tell the tale, feeling terribly guilty.
I can see why he felt guilty, and I would have too (even though I would have done the same thing – who knew beans needed to be boiled?) but I was surprised by how many emotional reactions I had to this occurrence. Part of me saw the humorous side, part was sorry it had happened and wishing I could have been there to help, another part grateful I was lucky enough to miss out on the puke parade, then there was that small poisonous part of me feeling jealous that he was the one who got to take care of them in their hour of need. I hate this ‘jealous’ feeling – I wish I could make it go away! I am so lucky to have André – and I know it. Who, in this day and age, or any day and age really, has such a supportive husband? It is a great comfort to me to know that my kids are in his (admittedly lethal) hands. When I talked to Zander on the phone the next day, he didn’t even mention the incident and told me Daddie was taking great care of them all. And the fact is, he was, and he is, and he always has and he always does. When they were sick and scared, Daddie was there for them. He has been there for all three of them from the day they were born. Of course, they have me to count on and love – but my children are so blessed to have a father who plays with them, cuddles them, reads to them and truly knows them – in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. (OK, I know that’s a wedding thing – but maybe we should start applying it to children too!) If they are doing something crazy – he knows about it. We make decisions about them together and he helps me be a better parent. I expect we will both be around to see them grow up but it is a great comfort to me to know that, if anything ever did happen to me, my partner would be capable of doing both the fun and the not-so-fun parts of parenting. I know it is wonderful for my kids to have this kind of a dad. But there is that little, small, selfish part of me that sometimes wants to be the favorite or the only one who can make them feel better, who is the center of their tiny universe. Kind of like how I hesitate to show people my best recipes – I like to be the only one who makes those brownies…. Still, I know the kids are OK when I am here – since he is with them – and that’s good. But why does a part of me want them NOT to be ok??? Can I puke this out? I guess I really like to feel needed, essential, absolutely necessary and I sometimes think that If they need him, it means they don’t need me as much. I mean, if they can get along just fine without me, what’s the point of me being around? I know, logically, this is insanity. To this day I still need both my mom and dad, right? Knowing this doesn’t seem to make that feeling leave though… I wonder if talking about it is a good thing or if I should keep that part of me deeply hidden? I guess I will go with the Harry Potter philosophy. I’m not sure what book it is in, but it is where Harry is saying he is just like Voldemort and Dumbledore says it’s not what you are given that counts – but the choices you make. I have chosen so far not to let my occasional jealousy get between the kids and André. I hope to keep it that way!
I love you infinitely bear – thank you for the birthday gift! Goodbye 33!