Make no mistake, I would die for Shelby, and not in the figurative way that it sounds like. I would literally take my own life if it meant keeping her healthy and happy. There was only one other person that deserved that, and well, I couldn't save her, no matter how much I tried.
With that said, Shelby is sick today. It's hard for me to be overly concerned about it when she just says "My stomach feels weird" and wants to lie down. I mean, she looks pitiful, but god knows I've seen much, much worse than an upset stomach.
Then she runs to the bathroom and heaves for 5 minutes. Switch. Flipped.
I suddenly know what it felt like for Megan on days Shelby stayed home from school because of this. It's fucking terrifying to see your "baby" being so miserable. I watched Megan herself do this exact same thing, daily, for 30 minutes as soon as she woke up and started her coughing routine. I held her hair and got her water to sip and did everything I could to make her feel better, but it was different. Megan was an adult, and she had been in this routine for long before I met her, so it wasn't a shock. It's uncommon for Shelby to be sick, so when it happens, as it does with all kids, it's a much bigger deal, and my mind starts racing with all the terminal diagnoses it could be, when really, she's just got an upset stomach.
Intellectually, I know what to do. I go right back to the routine I had with Megan with the hair holding, water, and comfort. What I don't have, or at least haven't developed yet, is the motherly instinct of what to tell her to make her feel better. Mommy had been there, done that, and always came out of the morning shittyness with a smile. She was able to make Shelby smile just the same when she was sick.
That's just the beginning. There are so many other things that we did the "traditional" way. I was the breadwinner, protector, wilderness guide, nightly and weekend entertainment provider, disciplinarian, and driver. Megan was a housewife. She did so many more things than cooking, cleaning, getting Shelby to school, kissing boo-boos, throwing birthday parties, dealing with my dumb ass, and generally being the nucleus of the family. Therein lies the problem. She did so much that I have no clue what all she did. The fact that she did it while she herself was sick is one hell of a goddamned testament.
Now I have to take on that role, and ladies, let me tell you, you deserve a metric shit ton of respect. I had to learn how to braid hair, RSVP to birthday parties, plan play dates, cook a dinner that she'll actually eat (she's not big on brussels sprouts, but at least she likes steak), and kiss boo-boos rather than telling her to "walk it off". I have so much more to learn. There's no way that Shelby is not going to be awesome, a tomboy, and drive all the boys nuts, given the circumstances, but dear lord, am I terrified of those teenage years.
Back to holding hair after her nap.