Vomit: the Little-Known Cure for Melancholia

I’d like to thank the Founding Fathers for reminding me that when powerful, smart people get together to work on stuff, it is possible for them to accomplish awesome things like forming a new nation and inspiring the world (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Congress).

Our 4th was very low-key and felt underwhelming since it was on a Wednesday.  I tried to think of it as having two Thursdays and Fridays with a short weekend in between, but it ended up feeling more like Monday and less like Thursday.   We had made tiny plans to make the day special: steak on the grill and legal (boring according to Jimmy, the pyromaniac) fireworks at twilight; setting up the sprinkler in the back yard and running through it to beat the heat.

Nothing quite went the way we thought it would. The sprinkler idea didn’t work so well, so we power washed the back porch and gave a few spiders a really bad day before setting up the water table for Daniel to play with (which he loved).  No nap for Daniel (boo) but a nap for me (awesome!) meant that we were running behind with our evening routine.  Instead of steaks on the grill, we had steaks cooked in olive oil and butter in my trusty cast iron pan (I feel very French when I use it for steaks.  I’m back in a quaint bistro in Paris, eating steak and pomme frites). I had briefly considered making a festive dessert – maybe a pie or custard of some sort – but Daniel was happy to eat chocolate ice cream.  The sun hadn’t set yet when we shot off fireworks, but it didn’t matter to Daniel.  After he was tucked in and it was dark, Jimmy and I walked down our driveway to watch the good (illegal) fireworks our neighbors were shooting off.

Daniel and the water table

It was a perfectly nice day, but I felt unsettled and a touch melancholy all day because I couldn’t get in the groove of celebrating when we would return to the real world the next day (holidays should never be in the middle of the week).  I kept promising Jimmy that next year, we’ll have the big fireworks again and will have a larger celebration.  The 4th of July is his favorite holiday like Halloween is mine.  I realized that too often this year when faced with a special occasion or holiday, we haven’t had the energy to approach it like we normally would and “next year” has become our official refrain.

The truth is that I’m tired.  We’re tired.  It’s an all-encompassing exhaustion and ennui rolled up into a tidy little package.  I used to love to cook and entertain, but after 2 years of family illness, death, work and family stress, school and those damned carpet beetles, I simply don’t have the energy.   It feels like our lives have been living us instead of us living them.

I was looking forward to the end of June because it would signal the end of an insanely busy six months.  Jimmy and I have had many chats about all the work we want to do around the house and the plans we have, and it’s a lot, but it will feel great to feel like we are doing something productive and making our house look like a home again.

But once the end of June came, I felt blah and overwhelmed by all that we want to do and whether we would accomplish it.  It also felt a little like a few days after Christmas when you realize all the fun has ended and now you are left with mundane daily life and resuming everything you had put off for the fun stuff. As a result, all last week I felt melancholy.

Cue Saturday.

Saturday I heard Daniel cough, gag and start to cry over the monitor.  I grabbed my glasses and went to see what was going on.  I opened the door and said, “Oh my God.” My poor, pitiful boy was sitting on the edge of his bed while vomit was everywhere.  And in case you are wondering, vomited raspberries make a room look like a crime scene.  His stuffed animals looked like they had been massacred.  His green blanket had spots of fuchsia on it.  I gingerly took his hand, closed his door to let Jimmy deal with it and cleaned up Daniel.

That vomiting session was followed by several more.  Looks like we had been given the weekend gift of a stomach virus!  The washing machine hummed all day.  Jimmy walked around with a stressed look on his face, trying to stay ahead of the next vomiting session while I kept Daniel entertained and cuddled in between folding laundry and putting it away.  By the end of the day, Daniel’s bedroom, the living room and the kitchen had been scrubbed out of necessity.

Poor, sick little boy rests on the couch.

I may never want to smell applesauce or yogurt ever again. Or hot dogs or chicken noodle soup.

The virus continued its Sherman’s March through my household, inflicting me late Sunday and Jimmy today.  The house is messy again but oddly, the melancholia is gone. Maybe it’s because we had to accept that while a vomit-filled weekend was not at all what we had in mind, we dealt with it and cleaned furiously.  We moved with a purpose we hadn’t had or been able to have in a long time, and it felt good to fold clothes and scrub floors.  Maybe we will be able to find the energy to do everything we’ve planned. Maybe I’ll open up the 2012 Southern Living Christmas book collecting dust on a shelf and plan a dinner party with simple food like coffee-infused beef wellington and souflees.

It might be a little too early to tell, but I certainly didn’t expect to feel this content after a weekend spent scrubbing vomit. Who knew?



  1. Oh my! That is a little known cure! I’m so sorry you all had to go through that. It sounds awful. I hope this week is exceedingly vomit free and that the melancholia stays away.

  2. I suppose that’s one way to rid oneself of melancholia; a bit of a reminder that, hey, it could be worse and some cleaning and scrubbing and fresh laundry all rolled into one.

    The best parenting moment of my life, thus far, has been teaching Lucky how to vomit into a bucket. I wish I was kidding, but I’m really not.

  3. I think, unfortunately, I know how you feel. There’s no room for thought vomit when there’s real vomit to scrub.

    And sometimes life has a way of giving you forced down time … even if it wasn’t what you had originally planned.

    Here’s hoping that next year brings you a different, and better, kind of fireworks!

    (And, because Blogger won’t let me “reply” any more now that I switched commenting formats, YES, I think that the chard pie would work without crust!) Thanks for the comment love!

  4. Oh no!! Not raspberries!! I think I am still traumatized by the raspberry/blueberry/strawberry or “Satan’s Fruit Salad” incident of ’08… Maeve is now very accomplished at puking into mixing bowls – she has her own special pink melamine one that is used only for that 🙂

    Need to see you guys soon!! Sorry I haven’t emailed… at 4 months, we’re finally climbing out of the baby dark hole. Can’t wait for you to meet him – dinner at our house in the next couple of weeks?

  5. Oh, my. Ick on the crime scene!

    I’m sorry for the travails, but I have to admit I got a chuckle out of how you turn a phrase and write so wryly about it.

    Hope all is well today.

  6. Oh, those damn carpet beetles! I’d almost forgotten about them. Sigh. I can relate to the ennui. Maybe sometimes hard/extremely unpleasant physical work is a good thing

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