late night gratitude & some pee

Our hot water heater has been broken since last Tuesday. UGH! Paul tried one thing, then the other, but no luck, and no hot water. Finally the company agreed to send a new one—hooray! still under warrantee!—but then came the weekend and the new heater sat in a Charlotte Fed Ex warehouse for two days. We started giving the kids baths in a plastic tub on the living room floor. Ah, the novelty of taking a bath while watching tv.

The new one arrived yesterday. Saint Paul took this morning off from work to crawl under the bathhouse and install it. The kids and I took an hour-long bath, I mean, we got out all the oils, bubbles, potions, ducks, whales, submersible wind-up divers, candles, and fancy soaps we could find. It was fantastic. Nothing like deprivation to make one appreciate the little things in life.

Which made me remember this: a few nights ago (before the lack of baths and laundry, thank goodness), Luc, sleeping beside me, peed in the bed. Peed in *my* bed. Oh, the parental joy of waking up to sopping sheets and a a sticky little boy. Yuck, stinky pee smell, getting up in the night, loads of laundry the next day…. but, strangely, I lay there in the dark feeling incredibly grateful for him being there.

Weird. But….

I recently found out that an acquaintance of mine’s beautiful, three year old daughter, Lena, has cancer. They’re in the hospital all this week for chemo. Did I mention that Luc is three? So there I was, in the wet bed, in the dark, and I thought, I am so glad he’s here, healthy as a horse, peeing on me. Nothing like the remembrance of how temporary and fragile it all is, to make one appreciate something as seemingly unappreciable as a little bedwetting. But it really is true—if I were to lose Luc, I would be laying there in my dry, clean bed, willing to give anything just to get him back, for a little while, pee and all.

Which made me think this: I don’t want Luc (or Sophie, or Paul) to have to be gone for me to appreciate him. Everything, every infuriating detail of him, would be so profoundly precious to me, if he woke up one day with cancer and I had to face the very real possibility of losing him. Why should he have to leave to receive that much generosity of love? What if I could treat him that well while we’re together?

Can I really be that kind?

So I got up and took care of the wet bed and the wet boy with surprising gentleness (for me, the midnight Grump Queen) and I felt truly grateful to have the chance, because it’s how I would feel if I miraculously got him back, like a hot bath, after losing him.

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