Last week was a tough one at the Hollingsworth house. Hugh Michael struggled with a fever and stomach bug. Haley got a minor cold. Their maladies put the first real test on my wife’s and my ability to execute full man-to-man defense. We had our hands full.
And I learned just what being a dad is all about.
Tuesday night, I was sleeping in my son’s room, just to give him company as he struggled to sleep. Around 5am I heard Hugh Michael begin to hack and cough…then came the unmistakable sound of vomit. Chunks hitting the bed and floor. Gross! The mac and cheese just didn’t look as good as it did the night before.
He cried. I went into overdrive. Simultaneously stripping sheets, cleaning up Hugh Michael and offering comfort. Poor fellow, he was shaking like a leaf. Within an hour, we were back sound asleep.
A short while later Hugh Michael was hacking and coughing again…and this time he was walking across the room, across the area rug and headed straight for the chair I was sitting in. As he convulsed forward with the unmistakable posture of a college freshman headed for the toilet after a long night out, I cupped my hands and pressed forward.
Lucky me. I caught what remained of Hugh Michael’s mac and cheese. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be a human catch basin for vomit. But I was too stunned to be grossed out…just one more day in the life of being a dad.
And believe it or not, this biological horror was matched just three days later.
On Friday, Hugh Michael spent the day with me in the office. Haley was still feeling badly and my wife just didn’t have it in her to take care of two sick kids. So, back to man-to-man defense we went.
All was well until Hugh Michael told me that his stomach hurt and that he had a poopie diaper. It was nearing the end of the day and I told him we would pack up and head home.
I scooped Hugh Michael up in my arms and we headed for the exit. I walked from my office to the reception area and into the lobby. And that’s when one of the folks in my office yelled…”GROSS!!!” Of course, I’m thinking, “You haven’t seen gross until you’ve held half-digested mac and cheese in your hands.”
Then I turned around. The path I had just walked was marked by a trail of very liquid poop. GROSS!!!
Back into my office we went. I laid Bubba on the floor and opened his diaper. That’s when I experienced a sight and smell that still sticks with me days later.
His diaper was full of a poopie that was the color, smell and consistency of mustard-based BBQ sauce. Disgusting does not even come close to describing it. We fought our way through it, but wow!
At home that night, I reflected on the week. I’ve had lots of great and interesting experiences as a dad over the last two and a half years. But twice in one week I set aside dignity and any sense of self to take on some disgusting, but equally loving tasks.
And that’s what being a dad is all about. Doing whatever it takes for your kids…even if that means never being able to look at mac and cheese or BBQ sauce again!