It happens every summer, right around this time.
I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed and see all the families frolicking in the sun and surf, touring historical monuments, or taking in theme parks. Moms do yoga on the beach and go out for cocktails with their pals, then post pictures of the “much needed girls’ night!”
Or maybe they are having some awesome backyard barbecue, with all their friend and family. There’s inevitably a bouncy house or a water slide.
Everyone is having a grand old time of it.
And I am wondering why I suck so much at life.
Because I haven’t gone out with my girlfriends and my family hasn’t gone to the beach, not even once. We exhausted our finances going to a funeral and getting rabies.
I did post an adorable family photo from the emergency room on Facebook with the caption, “Saaayyy rabieeeesss!!” Because I’m ironic like that.
Ok, to be clear, we didn’t actually all get bat rabies. We had to undergo prophylactic treatment because we had a 2% chance of having been exposed to bat rabies when a bat flew through our house. It’s a long story and I’ve told it about 25 times over the past couple weeks, so I just can’t tell it again right now.
In a nutshel, it was an exponentially awful and expensive process due to an infinitesimally small risk. But when you have kids, you don’t fuck around with the 2% that might be rabid. Because that shit will kill you. No lie.
Due to spending our life savings (ok, our life savings was only $750, but still…) on the hospital copays and extensive follow up visits to treat our 2% chance of having bat rabies (no, I’m not bitter. . . not at all), we couldn’t afford that trip we had planned down to the Cape to go to the waterpark and eat twice our collective body weight in salt water taffy.
Life is full of disappointments, isn’t it?
But the good news is we are immune to rabies for at least the next year. Bam! What’s your super power?
I’ve been feeling a little sorry for us over the past couple weeks, since that stupid flying rodent found it’s way out of our bedroom eaves and into our lives. My husband has dubbed this “the summer of suck.” In addition to the above mentioned drama, the kids have also been particularly difficult and nasty with one another. Damn. It’s like they have rabies or something. The fighting in the car is particularly awful, and makes us not want to go out anywhere with them, but that is an entire blog post in and of itself.
After the first protracted night we spent in the ER waiting for our immunoglobulin and vaccines, we had to go back to the “Rabies Clinic” (Um, yes that is a thing) for three subsequent booster shots. The clinic is in the basement of our local children’s hospital.
The fact that we are getting treated as a family at a children’s hospital has its perks. Like the nurses are super sweet and gentle. They have playdoh, storybooks, and stickers at the ready to give the kids. I bet they would have given me stickers and a story too, if I had asked. They were that nice.
They also made a big deal about how awesome my kids were about getting their shots. And to be honest, my heart did swell with pride because both Jack, 8, and Emily, 3, were amazingly cooperative and mellow about the whole thing. Which is surprising. I have probably the most high strung, anxious and rigid son, and my daughter is three, so it goes without saying she is not yet tame. They didn’t fight, and were supportive of one another. As the four of us sat, waiting together I had a moment of “Aw, look at us doing something as a family and getting along!” I’m not sure what it says about my parenting skills that the best my family has gotten along all summer was at the children’s hospital. Maybe it’s because we were being supervised. Whatevs.
Neither of them cried, not once. Which is more than I can say for their mom.
The other thing about getting treated as a family at a children’s hospital is you get a crash course in realizing how crazy lucky and blessed you are.
As we were in the waiting room on our first follow up appointment, I saw a nurse run past with one of those big, forensic cameras. Because I am a social worker, I know she was probably going to photograph some poor child who had been beaten, attacked, bit by a dog, or sexually abused. I know this because I’ve been to those shindigs with clients before, and they are no fun. And because I am a social worker, and I am cynical and jaded, those last two sentences can roll off my tongue and I don’t even bat an eye.
But being in that waiting room with my own children casually playing nearby made me realize just how disturbing that other scenario is, and just how good I have it.
Then, as we were waiting for the valet to bring our car around, a woman rolled up with a child in a wheelchair who was connected to all manner of tubes. After they passed by us, Jack asked me what was up with all those wires on that guy.
With my heart in my throat I told Jack that we were really lucky because there are some families who have to come to this hospital for much more serious reasons than us. I explained that child probably needed that stuff to help keep him healthy, and that his body worked differently than Jack’s, which is why he needed the wheelchair.
And I realized that rabies shots were probably the best possible reason we could have for spending out Saturday morning at the children’s hospital.
Realizations aside, it hasn’t been the best summer. I had big plans this summer to take the kids on exciting outings, do different day trips, and at least get to the beach once. No where on that bucket list did I intend to spend close to $2000 getting painful vaccinations and going to mourn the loss of my grandfather. Now summer is almost over and I just want to fill the proverbial bucket with wine and call it a day.
So, I took the kids out to get them a reward for being so brave and positive about the rabies. Jack chose a Harry Potter wand that was redonkulously expensive. Emily chose a package of fairy princess crowns. They trotted out to the car, super happy with their purchases, and for once they weren’t fighting.
As we all buckled up and drove off from the toy store, I peeked at the kids in the rearview mirror. Emily had one of her crowns on and Jack was waving his wand around. I contemplated capturing the moment in a photo for the newsfeed. And for once, I wasn’t being ironic. It’s the little moments. The little times when everyone is getting along and nothing big is happening. Those are the times I like the best.
“You guys happy?” I asked.
“Yes!” They both replied.
“Sorry you got rabies, guys,” I said. They knew me well enough to know I was joking.
“Mama,” Jack said, “We didn’t actually get rabies.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I said.
Silver linings and such.