Of course those words preceded the child vomiting across the living room and down the hall. My cry of anger and frustration came out in the noisy rise and fall of my “AwwwwwWWWW!!!!” and my husband also immediately made a wry face but just as quickly made a move towards it.

Years of practice controlling my irritation in this sort of situation used to keep my response like this on the inside, but I’ve gotten out of practice because that virtue isn’t often needed right now. Pregnant, not sleeping well, 9 kids constantly needing me, homeschooling 10-12 hours a day, I’m at a spiritually weak place. But I almost didn’t sound irritated as I released an angry breath and said to him, “No, it’s ok. I’ll get some towels.”

The room was mostly clean when I finally knelt to scrub the vomit from the rug. Of course, being on your hands and knees is the way to start to pray, and as I realized my Morning Offering had covered this moment by offering my “joys and sufferings of this day”, I decided to offer it more intentionally for a friend in need. After all, why waste a good opportunity to unite my little trials with the sufferings of Christ? And once I thought of it that way, I could instantly see that this was not suffering. Not even close. The resentment, frustration, anger fell away. Thoughtfully, methodically, I dipped the rag into the cleaning bucket and scrubbed away all the filth. My years of working on my interior life gave me the fruit to just accept the cross of that moment.

“Mom, I threw up in the toilet.”

Those words should have been music to my ears. Finally, after 18 years of kids, someone didn’t start the stomach flu by throwing up over the side of their bed all over the floor in the middle of the night. But I saw his face and instantly said, “Go do it again.” He made it as far as the living room.

Years ago, the stomach flu used to take me by surprise. How could we be sick again? We eat nutritious food and wear our coats outside and wash our hands and we homeschool for goodness sake! so where are we catching germs from? But I’ve realized now that those thoughts are pointless. We are sick again because there is sin in the world. I could start a finger-pointing contest an octopus would lose about who brought this on us, but that doesn’t get vomit off the carpet, couch and floor.

Across the year, I stock up on flu season supplies and keep a stash handy for the day when this will happen. If we know something is bound to happen, let’s plan for it. I keep these supplies grouped together on the top shelf of the pantry so that they are hard to reach and easy to find. For the most part, the kids are not allowed to use them for anything but sickness.

Pantry supplies for flu season:
Basin for beside the bed
Ginger ale/rehydration drink
Soda crackers
Chicken soup

Cleaning supplies:
Bleach based spray cleaner
Upholstery and rug cleaner
Baking soda or ground coffee to deodorize
Towels and rags

I usually don’t use meds for the flu, but I do have Digize essential oil to help with stomach aches.
The secret here is not the list; it’s in being prepared for the inevitable. Preparation allows us to be present to the person who needs us and for the task at hand. Sad to say, it took me a long time to figure that out.