I don’t know what it is about motherhood that makes us instinctively catch our child’s vomit in our hands when they are throwing up. It just happens. And for me, it now happens during my son’s class parties. It’s like a party foul, but with toddlers.
Let me set the scene.
My husband and I took our son to his class winter party, and all was going well. It was held in the big playroom at school. There was a bounce house, snacks on snacks, and Disney music playing in the background. It had all the elements of a good class party. I’m getting to know the other parents since I am the chair of the parent committee this year, so the chit chat feels less awkward and more comfortable. My son had a great time bouncing away in the bounce house. We were all smiles.
Then all of a sudden…
My son jumped out of the bounce house and started having a coughing fit. His entire classroom had been sick the last few weeks before the party so you could hear a chorus of coughs throughout the party. But I know my son’s individual cough from experience, and I could tell it was a bad fit from getting too worked up in the bounce house. My husband seemed to calm him down, and they were playing with Legos with a couple of other kids. I walked over to see if he needed any water, and before I had a chance to think about what was happening, my son was vomiting in the middle of the playroom, and I was catching it in my hands.
At the time of the vom-incident, it seemed to be coming out in slow motion. Somehow I went from standing up to kneeling without realizing it, and I had caught his vomit. It was a pro mom move, and my husband noticed right away and ran to grab napkins. Then, my son’s teachers swarmed in to help and had the wipes available to clean him up.
My first instinctual thought was, oh my God, everyone is going to judge us. There is nothing more embarrassing to a germaphobe than to have something completely unsanitary happen in front of a large group of people. My husband and I gave each other one look and knew without saying a word that we needed to leave. But as I was looking around, I didn’t see looks of judgment. I saw looks of complete empathy like they either had gone through it before or knew it was inevitably going to happen to them someday. We still hightailed it out of there (after I washed my hands of course), but were thankful that there were no looks of judgment.
Now that I have entered the catching-my-child’s-vomit-in-my-hands phase of motherhood, I will make sure to not pass on judgment if this happens to another parent. Because we have been there. Also, at least he didn’t vomit in the bounce house.