I still remember the most heartbreaking thing that I have ever experienced as a parent, and yes, it involves vomit (a lot of parenting stories do. We’re kind of like a frat in that way.)
It was roughly 1AM (because kids never do anything during the day. They wait until you’re asleep.) I was sound asleep. Like so asleep I probably had the pillow lines on my face. Sleeping hard.
We had just been in Avery’s room to put her back to sleep, so needless to say, I wasn’t in the best mood. She starting stirring again, making little noises in the monitor. Not enough to wake me up, but just enough to prevent me from falling back asleep (kind of her, huh?)
Finally, I couldn’t handle it. I walked into her room, and rather harshly said, “Avery, you need to go to s….” Before I could finish my word, I smelled that overwhelming odor that I knew all too well.
I turned on the light and there was throw up everywhere. Walls, floors, crib, stuffed animals, hair, everywhere. And she was eating solid food now, so it wasn’t milk throw up, it was food throw up (again, very much like a frat in that way.)
She had it caked in her hair, and as I bent over her crib to get her up to change her, she looked at me, and with a single tear rolling down her cheek (of course) she said, in her high-pitched little voice:
“Daddy, I need help.”
Yup. My heart fell through the bottom of my feet. It was the most frustrating moment, (hello, i’m cleaning up vomit at 1AM) and yet one of the most tender moments I’ve ever experienced as a parent. She was relying completely on me. She was completely helpless. If I didn’t clean her up, she would wallow in that stink for God knows how long.
I try not to over-spiritualize too much, but it taught me a lot about Jesus, the vomit night did. It taught me that I am helpless. That Jesus looks on me with the same kind of compassionate love that I had for my daughter that night. I wasn’t mad at her for puking again. I wasn’t mad at her for making a mess. Whatever frustration or tension I had melted when she looked at me and said, “Daddy, I need help.”
I feel like maybe I should say that to God more. Daddy, I need help. I feel like maybe far too often, I think I have it together and figured out, when in reality, I’m just a sweaty mess, covered in my own vomit. And the only thing capable of cleaning me up is Dad. I could try myself, but I’d just make it worse. His hands are the the only ones that can get me truly clean. His hands are the only ones that can truly restore me. His hands are the only ones that can pick me up, clean me off, look me in the eyes, and say, “I got you. Let’s clean you up.”