caroline holzberger

Keepin' it real about motherhood, Jesus, life, and everything in between.

Ah, There’s Nothing Like the Smell of Lysol in the Morning

(The following blog is neither for the faint of heart, nor the weak of stomach – its content may be gross and uncouth – friend, consider yourself warned!) 🙂

So the title of my blog this time was actually my facebook status the other day. After this statement I also said “Hmm…is that the title of a country song?” I think it should be. Country songs are so often about sad, lonely, depressing and unfortunate life events. And my house has been full of those over the past five days.

My sweet, adorable, yet very precocious baby girl went to church last Saturday night and brought home a smile, some love from God and his servants, and last but not least…a stomach virus. Lovely.

Now, before I begin, I must say that Ryan and I have been very blessed in our six years of being parents. We have never, and I mean never, had a stomach virus rip through our house like this one. We now know how blessed we were. Key word – were. Don’t get me wrong…we have had our fair share of scary and disgusting childhood illness moments – Jacob’s (at 13 months old) asthma type symptoms getting so scary that his lips and hands were turning blue because his sweet little body wasn’t getting enough oxygen – Benjamin (at age 18 months) getting a hold of the wrong sippy cup and drinking five ounces of regular milk, despite his severe dairy allergy. Yes, we called 911 and yes his face was so swollen it barely looked like him….and I won’t even try to count the number of “throwing down” episodes my kids have done in a bathtub full of toys….not cool.

Now, we have had a stomach bug or two or five in our home over the years. Abigail just had a bad one on Halloween of this year and missed Trick or Treating. Such a shame, she would have been a sweet little lamb.  And I managed to get a bad bug with every single pregnancy. Yep, every single one. There’s nothing quite like hugging that porcelain throne with a big ol’ preggo belly.

But nothing, and I mean nothing could have prepared us for this. Like I mentioned before, our sweet Abigail brought it home. And whether she did or not, we can blame it on her because she’s the baby and doesn’t know any better. But, she really did bring it home and whoa nelly, it hit her Sunday afternoon when we tried to put her down for her nap. She was in there for a while and was a little mad about missing out on the party. Often the girl goes down without a hitch, but then there are some times when she is just plain mad about having to leave everyone to go do this nap thing…and she lets us hear all about it. And then again, there is this time, when she was simply covered in throw up.

Poor baby. Poor daddy. Let me tell you…I am married to one amazing man. Things like this don’t phase him near like they do me. I can just about barely handle it. Barely. I take kid duty and he has clean up. He totally drew the short straw on this one, trust me. I honestly thank God that a major “incident” like this hasn’t happened when he was out of town or something. Not sure what I’d do. Actually, I have a pretty good idea. I’m pretty sure I’d consider closing the room up, locking it and just selling the house. Honey – I’ll forward you our new address.

So, we cleaned the sweet girl up and I loved on her for a while. She was pretty traumatized by the whole thing. Poor baby, she’s not even two years old yet and so she doesn’t understand at all when her body does this to her. She looks at us with the most pitiful look. You know the look. The one that says “Mama, what is going on? Why is this happening? Make it stop!”

But, stop it did not. In fact, we had round two just a couple hours later. Repeat clean up roles. Repeat loving on her sweet self. Only now, we are down to only one clean crib sheet. Mayday, mayday, mayday.

So, that was Sunday. And then Monday came and thankfully, it was fairly tolerable. We stuck to the whole brat diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) and things went pretty well. Jacob was at school all day and my folks came to get Benjamin to play at their house for a while, so he wouldn’t get “infected”. So, sweet sister friend and I got a lot of “cuggle” time. I hate to say it, but that is a perk. If someone was looking for a silver lining here, which sometimes as a parent, you just kinda need, the extra “cuggle” time is it. At least with our kids…when they get sick, they sure are super cuddly. So, Abigail and I snuggled up under a blanket (to be burned at a later date) and watched TV together. That is, until she fell asleep on me…for three and a half hours. That’s right. Poor thing. And poor Mama. When she woke up, I had a serious cramp in my shoulder, couldn’t feel my left arm and was about to pee my pants.

Then came Tuesday and things were beginning to look up. I was starting to think we were in the clear. (ha.) But, after naptime, our sweet Benjamin, who is usually only sitting still when eating a snack or zoned in on a favorite show…sluggishly slumped down on the couch and said “Mama, my belly hurts.” Uh oh.

Within hours, he was pale as a sheet and sprawled out on the couch not moving at all. He just flat out looked awful. I tried to make him as comfortable as I could. I sat next to him and stroked his sweet hair and thought about how sad it is when our “joy boy” is sick. The whole mood of the house changes. I thought also about how I’d hoped he and Jacob hadn’t played too closely together that afternoon after school. Darn me for wanting them to share. Then, a whole ‘nother thought crossed my mind. Oh no…the kid had spaghetti for lunch. Uugghh. That was not going to be pretty. But, I must say, in true “middle child” fashion…our sweet Benjamin was the only child to neither throw up nor “threw down” ( I despise the “d” word). Isn’t that sweet of him? Always wanting to please everyone. Never wanting to put anyone out. I sure thought so.

Especially since that very same Tuesday evening after Benjamin had so sweetly crashed on the couch, Ryan and I were watching a little TV together and we heard that all too familiar sound coming from Abigail’s bed…again. You know the sound. And Ryan and I just looked at each other. Again? Really?!? Yes, friends, again. (and again and again actually) Poor sister friend was back in it for round three (and ultimately, rounds four and five). I guess she is a lot like her mother – anything worth doin’ is worth over-doin’.

So, now here we are to Wednesday morning. I had been up with a dry-heavin’ Miss Abigail until almost 1am. And then come about 2:30am, sweet Benjamin called for me and just needed me to love on him. He kept saying “I’m sorry Mama, I just love you so much. I don’t want to be sick anymore. I don’t like this.” Poor thing. So, when 7am rolled around, I sleepily shuffled into the living room to see how Ryan was doing with getting Jacob ready for school. I came in, only to find pale little Jacob, my darling oldest child…tucked up in a ball on the couch. Not dressed for school. Not eating his breakfast. Not looking like himself at all. “What’s wrong, buddy?” “Mama, I don’t feel good, my belly hurts.” Now, in my head I am screaming…”Noooooooooo!”

I took Abigail to the doctor at 9am and Ryan stayed back with the boys – Benjamin, who hadn’t emerged from his bed yet, and Jacob who just lied there motionless and pale on the couch. When Abigail and I returned home at 10:45 or so, we found that Benjamin had awakened and was feeling “Fine, mama!!” (Thank you my sweet middle child) and Jacob literally had not moved. I rubbed his head for a bit and then tried to strategize on how we could best rope off this entire half of the house for fumigation. And then it happened. Jacob joined his sister he loves so dear in the throw up club. Ugh, no secret handshake or password to get in for this club. Anyone’s invited. Especially if your last name is Holzberger, apparently. So…once again, I took kid duty and Ryan tried to salvage what was left of our couch. Fortunately, he is nothing if not a great cleaner.

Wednesday wound down with Jacob still looking like death warmed over…Benjamin asking for spaghetti again (Ya right, kid…fat chance) and Abigail seeming to become a bit more like herself. Bedtime came and we all went to our own beds. The day was done. Or so we thought. I will spare you the details, but let me just say that Ryan and I have always allowed our kids the occasional “special night” if they were scared or sick or something and just need a night in our bed. It doesn’t happen that often, hence the name “special night”. This night, however turned out to be not so special. Well, at least it wasn’t throw up. But, it was throw down. Will our mattress ever be the same, we wonder? Only time will tell.

So, that brings us to Thursday. D-day. The “d” of course stands for disinfect. My sweet parents went to the store for me and got more hand sanitizer, a bottle of bleach, Clorox wipes, Lysol spray and more trash bags. Trash bags, you ask? Trust me, you do not want to know. And I, not being the “clean” one in our marriage, by nature, became one that day. I was systematic. I was organized. I was thorough. I was borderline fanatical. I wiped everything down. And I mean everything. The light switches, the door knobs, the remotes, the phones, the popular places to grab every single drawer in every single room, the toys…shoot, even the children if they stayed still long enough…everything.  I quarantined the kids to the living room with hardly any toys but an endless supply of Dora, Diego and Tom and Jerry on TV. All the while, I think my poor washer was conspiring with the dryer to start a coo and give up on me out of sheer exhaustion. At one point I actually wondered if there was enough Lysol spray in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area to rid my house of the puke/poop smell.

If anyone had eavesdropped on my conversation with my kids that day, they might have thought I was some kind of weirdo mom…

“Do not hug your sister!”
“No sharing!!”
“Mama isn’t making anyone lunch today! You only get crackers!”
“Are you sure you haven’t touched anyone?!”
“No mama kisses, baby, sorry!”
“No, you may not have any vegetables!”
“No playing with toys, we are watching TV all day!”
No one is allowed to help mama clean up these toys!”
“No, you may not help your sister get up!”
“Yes, yes…we can watch this movie over…again!”
“Nobody touches anybody!!!!!”
“I told you yesterday and I’ll tell you today, your only choice for food is crackers!”
and after all that…”Trust me, kids…mama knows what’s best for you!”

Lovely isn’t it?? Boy, I sure would have been sorry perhaps if there had been a CPS person listening in through the windows. Although if they touched those windows before the “big clean” at 2pm Thursday, they’d have been sorry too!

Isn’t it amazing how all bets are off in certain situations? Like today…my kids watched more TV today alone than they have all week combined. I was encouraging absolutely no displays of affection toward their siblings. And, to top it all off…I did all the picking up of toys for them! Mother of the year right here ladies and gents. 🙂

But, I was honestly in survival mode. I knew we were approaching the 48 hour mark with Abigail, again. Which is when we thought we were home free on Tuesday. Stupd, stupid us.

At all costs today, I was determined to get all these “yuckies” out of my house. Was I beyond tired? Yes. Do my hands need a healing lotion like never before thanks to all the hand sanitizer? Yes. Have I thrown away clothing this week that could very well have been used again by someone. Yes, yes and yes again. But, it doesn’t matter.

I want my house clean. I want my kids well.

The more I’ve thought about it (and I say this humbly – but even more so, teasingly)…I don’t ever think I’ve been more like Jesus than I was that day. I mean it. He takes up residence in our hearts, and maybe this isn’t true for you, but for me…when He got here, I’m thinking He looked around a bit and wished He would have bought stock in Lysol. Trust me, friend…it was a dirty place. Full of greed, and selfishness…dripping with pride, fear and materialism and there was some funky anger, self-pity, and insecurity breeding under the furniture. And don’t even ask where the carpet stains came from, they’ve been there since college. And no matter how hard I tried to clean it myself – no matter how hard I still try to clean it myself – I don’t have the right supplies. I’m wiping counters with a dirty, dry rag and I’m just spraying air freshener all around. I may be able to mask the smell for a little while with some annoyingly named scent like vanilla blossom fields C’mon, seriously? but trust me, I ain’t killing the germs.

Again, this just may not apply to you, but, for me, I know that Jesus has been forced to use more severe tactics in cleaning up my heart at times. I’m convinced that for a while there, He had a hazmat suit with my name on it. I also believe that He has allowed the enemy a visit or two. Ya see…the enemy pretends to want to clean, but all the while, trudging in sin on his shoes and leaving a trail of mucky worldliness behind him. I also believe that He has allowed me to let a few rooms get quite a bit dirtier than He would have preferred. Why would he do that? In order to show me just how amazing He is at cleaning. And then there have been times, like this past year…when he has just flat out allowed for scary things like black mold to grow so I could see how by Him ripping out the carpet and stripping the wallpaper, He alone could make this place even more beautiful than I had ever imagined.

The thing is…I can relate to my kids. Every one of them, actually. Like Jacob, sometimes I just feel like lying still, not moving at all, and waiting for this thing to pass. I tell myself it will, and I’m in complete denial that this will hit me hard. Other times, I feel like Benjamin and cry out to God, “I’m sorry Daddy, I love you so much, but I don’t want this anymore! I don’t like this!”…feeling like I want to be strong, but I am not quite sure how to be. And surely I have felt like Miss Abigail – scared, confused, and not at all sure what is happening to me, over and over and over. I look up to heaven with that same scared look and say “Please, daddy, just make it stop!”

Sin is dirty. And the thing is, Jesus is perfect. So, can you imagine what He thinks each day when he looks at His dwelling place, our hearts? I’m thinking it ain’t pretty. But, He gets to work. And although it may sound harsh, He is being a great parent…

“No sharing with the world and its ways!”
“No, you can’t clean this up on your own!”
“Your only choice for food is me – the bread of life”

He has our best interest at heart. And while we may not understand it, we, too, can trust that our Father knows what’s best for us. He wants us to be well more than we know. But He knows we can’t do it on our own, try as we might.

But, friend, the great news is that we daily have the opportunity to offer up to Him a willing heart. It is always easier to give a patient their medicine when they are willing to take it. I want to be willing. Don’t you?

Was this last year of my medical drama fun? Did I “deserve” to have to live that way? Do I know why I had to have such extensive “cleaning” done? No, no and no.

But…did He know the best way for my heart to get a bit cleaner? Was this time worth it, sitting back and trusting in His cleaning process? Has He shown himself faithful to stick by me when I keep dirtying His place up? Yes, yes and yes.

Friend, it’s simple…

He wants His house clean. He wants His kids well.

How do I know?? Well, He told me….

Proverbs 18:12 “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”

Psalm 86:11 “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

Psalm 51:10  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Proverbs 15:14 “The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.”

Proverbs 3:3 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Psalm 40:8 “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Psalm 73:1  “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.”

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Proverbs 20:9 “who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?”

Not me, friend…not me. So, offer yourself up to Him. Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it again the day after that. Then repeat. He will never tire of cleaning. Which is good, because we will never be fully clean, until we see him face to face. Until then…be thankful for the smell of Lysol in your life.

And for the record…we have a couch for sale and also a queen mattress, if you’re interested. Anyone? Anyone? Ya, I didn’t think so.

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