The call came in at 10:30pm. No one calls me that late, so I instantly knew something must be wrong. “Hey mom, I have a little problem..” It was my son. My slumbering stomach ground into CRM (Code Red Mode) and I stumbled into the bathroom to grab the bottle of Pepto Bismol. I needed to act fast to blunt the effects of PSD–Parental Stress Disorder.
My first attack of PSD hit when I was a brand new mom out at my first, post birth, engagement; newborn baby in tow. All of the officer’s wives had been invited to the XO’s house for a luncheon. Our husbands were about to deploy and this was a social, as well as informational, get together. The XO is second in command on a Navy ship, and his home was just this side of a museum. His lovely wife had collectibles from all over the world displayed in each elegant room.
My new, adorable baby and I were the center of attention, and as such were given premium seating in a gorgeous, white wing back chair. As the meeting got under way, I began to feed my precious pumpkin her bottle. Every so often I would look up and meet with a tender glance from one of the other wives. I felt so happy, so proud, so content, so…wet?
It took me about a minute to interpret what I was witnessing. Formula was bubbling- no, gushing, out of my baby’s mouth, oozing over her dress, cascading over my arm and puddling on the fabric of this beautifully upholstered chair. I was frozen in dizzying horror, stuck in a time loop, locked in a catatonic state, my mental fog shattered when I heard a voice urgently squawking “CINDY! Your baby is vomiting!”
But there I sat, still staring at this event as if I was a disconnected by-stander. It was like witnessing a killer whale give birth at Sea World..it’s unsettling and gross , yet fascinating and… ”CINDY! What’s the matter with your baby!?” I stared in the direction of the questioner..”hey lady! “ I wanted to shout back, “I just delivered Shamu here a few weeks ago, how do I know what’s wrong with her?”
Parenting is not for the faint of heart, and projectile vomiting is the least of it. I could never have imagined the stress I’d encounter worrying over blotchy moles, botched exams, busted windows, bent fenders and broken hearts. There is a vulnerability like nothing else in life that comes with being a mother..that’s simply the way it is.
It was just a few years ago that I was finally able to shave the roughest edges off my PSD. One of my grown children was going through a particularly rough time and I was making myself sick with worry. I remember very clearly getting on my knees and audibly telling God that I needed him to take over. I had to almost ceremonially unclench my grip and visualize myself handing all four of my kids to him. That was a real turning point in my life. I only wish I hadn’t waited as long as I did to finally whisper “your will, not mine, be done!” My PSD is pretty well controlled now that I’m in my fifties, my only weakness is still my stomach- but there’s medication for that so it’s all good.
My son’s call that night was about a spider infestation he discovered in his short term rental. Once I realized there hadn’t been a car accident, my stomach stopped grinding and growling. Of course when I fell back asleep I dreamt about him being bitten to bits by a tsunami of black widows…so I guess my subconscious mind was still grappling with the whole buggy situation…
Hmmm, now that I think about it, that was a pretty horrendous dream…I’d better google the possible side-effects of too much Pepto…