In which this is the house that Jack built

If your four-year-old unexpectedly gets sick in the middle of preschool, you’ll bring him home and tuck him into bed.

And then chances are, he’s going to throw up all over the bed.

And then one of the longest weeks of your life will begin.

And then he’ll get his big sister sick, too.

And then it will be three days straight of never-ending medicine, fevers, baths, Word Girl instant streaming, and laundry.

And chances are, that will be the day that your big scary from-the-depths-of your-soul post about virginity publishes and suddenly rockets as close to “viral” as anything you’ve ever written before.

And then you’ll take the boy into the doctor and discover he has bronchitis and an ear infection and swollen glands.

And then you’ll tell your email to bugger off because you want to watch another episode of Doctor Who.

And then the baby will get sick.

And then you’ll dig out your old Ergo – Babywearing To The Rescue! – and thump her on your back.

And then you’ll go through 36 hours with thirty-pounds of sick baby on your back.

And then it will be a three-ring circus of round-the-clock barfing and coughing and scrubbing and disinfecting.

And then you’ll decide that nurses are severely underpaid and from now on, you’re pro-nurses unions, all the way.

And chances are, by now, it’s been six days since you’ve slept longer than an hour at a time.

And then you’ll start to look around your house and realise that you simply MUST organize the baby clothes situation.

And then you’ll drag every stitch of clothing out and organize it by sizes and pack it into boxes.

And then you’ll do another 18,374 loads of laundry and seriously pray for people who rely on laundromats when they’ve got sick children.

And then you’ll realise that the carpet smells of sick so you’ll cover your house in baking soda and then scrub for hours.

And then you’ll catch the baby nearly climbing out of her old teeth-marked thrice-used crib and have a sleep-disordered panic attack at the thought of her jumping out.

(Because she’s the kind of kid that would totally fling herself out of a crib.)

And then you’ll make your husband dismantle the crib and bring the toddler bed up from storage.

And then you’ll scrub more puke up out of the carpet and turn on an episode of Wild Kratts.

And then you’ll mention how you’d love to put your eldest into her own room and maybe we should do that this weekend.

And then you’ll spend your precious sleep time browsing paint colours and Pinterest bedrooms for little girls.

And then your husband will move all the furniture around on Saturday morning even though two of the three are still down for the count.

And then he’ll pull out the window casings because you’re married to an old-fashioned midwestern hard-worker who likes to do things the right way.

And next thing you know the carpet has been pulled and the ceiling retextured and the room painted.

And chances are that the sick baby won’t like her new toddler bed.

And you’ll begin to realise you are a foolish and sleep-deprived and housebound-crazy woman.

And you’ll kick yourself that you gave your husband a project to do when all you really wanted was someone to tell you to go to bed for a nap.

And then you’ll bath them all again and wash the sheets for the third time that very day.

And then you’ll remember its Superbowl Sunday and your American husband is diligently working instead of complaining about missing the game.

And then you’ll want to kiss him but you’re both too tired and stinky for that.

And then you’ll set up the new bedroom arrangement in a mad pre-bedtime panic to get it done.

And chances are the baby will barf all over her special little blankie.

And then you’ll have to wash both of them and then she won’t go to sleep for a good long time. (Neither will you. Ever.)

And then you’ll go to have a much-anticipated and cherished shower to celebrate making it to the end of another day.

And then you’ll discover there is no hot water.

Because, of course.

And then you’ll resign yourself to waiting until morning and fall into bed for another night of “Mumma, my need ya.”

And when you finally drag your tired self out of bed for the next shift in this never-ending week-of-a-day, you’ll discover the other one has been sick ALL OVER AGAIN.

And then you’ll seriously consider an exorcist.

And suddenly it will occur to you that you just dismantled the crib and for the first time in nearly seven years, there isn’t a baby here anymore.

And chances are, you’ll sit right down and cry and cry and cry about how they’re all growing up too fast.

And then suddenly you won’t mind the past week quite so much.



  • Juanita Dueck

    Oh Sarah. I laugh and I cry with you. You are crazy! And you are a mama who loves her kids! And you are a wife with a wonderful husband and all of it is more than enough and yet….you just need to go to sleep. If I was there, I would give you a 5 hour break to go lay down your tired head and blissfully dream of little girls’ rooms and sunnier days. As my mother always says, “this too shall pass. “

  • BrennaDA

    Our Lucy is just a month or two behind yours, and I realized this is the first time I’ve had my youngest be this old without being pregnant and I think we are done with our bio kids but what if we aren’t and just….yes.

  • Jessica

    And then you’ll call Jessica to share a glass of wine.

    • Sarah Bessey

      And appys. Don’t forget the foooooooood.

  • Maria

    my baby also puked on his special blankie this week. I’ve never seen him so heartbroken, dragging around a soggy, rinsed out blankie with sick still on it. Minus the renovations, it was a long week for us too. Hang in there.

  • Mandy

    I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you this week. I’ve been too self-absorbed. :(

  • Dixie Livingston

    Bless. Things I like:
    My kids watch the same shows as yours do…and mine are 12, 8.5 and 7. PBS is the best.
    The amount of laundry kids require is universally ridiculous…even more so when puke is involved.
    You’ve got a sweet hubby…well done choosing that one:)

    On a different note about being sad about the ‘growing up’ part. It is beautiful. Mine are not little (my 12 year old is an inch taller than I am) like that anymore. But it is all amazing. It does goes fast but see, I married a good one too. And as much as I adore my children, I sincerely miss the spontaneity of life when it was just me and him. I do look forward to when it’s like that again one day. I’m happy to wait until then. But on puke filled days, it’s sorta a nice glimmer to look forward to.

    I hope you are all well soon. Wild Kratz comes on here in 25 minutes…

  • Kelley Nikondeha

    no one describes every day life like you do, Sarah. So there’s a reason you’ll always be Emerging Mummy to me… But how can you write about a week of sickness and have me in tears at the end? Life is like that sometimes, and you say it true, you say it well. Love you.

  • Kathleen Quiring

    Oh goodness. Even when you write about everyday life (even the suckier parts of everyday life), your writing is just breathtakingly beautiful. I hope you all feel better soon!

  • Jessica Clemmer

    Ah, yes, the wild, horrendous, wonderful thing we call life. Every mama can feel your bone-tiredness as the read your words, I do believe. I can remember those kind of days. Mine are a bit older now… The good news…I have found…is that they get bigger and generally make it to a toilet, or at least trash can, before barfing. The bad news…I still mourn my crib. On a different and weird note, I believe I was wearing that very same shirt last week when I posted on Facebook about watching the Wild Kratts because I too had a sickie at home. We are never alone…even if we don’t know it. Hang in there…much grace to you!!

  • Linda Stoll

    ah … those were the days … and I can’t say I miss those endless scenarios one single bit.

    and now to figure out what you want to remember forever and what you hope will never come across your radar again …

  • J.R. Goudeau

    I agree with Kelley–you are a sharp observer of the small moments the rest of us throw away (all my favorite writers are). Also, Wild Kratts is the best! Hope you’re all feeling better this week!

  • Osheta Moore

    amazing post! My ten year old got sick in the middle of the night last week. Our washer is broken so I had to clean puke up at midnight and since my brain turns off after 9, I threw it in the washer completely forgetting I couldn’t just run a load in the morning. In the morning I remembered it was full of water that never drained (that’s how we found out it was truly broken last week), so for a day I had gross, vomit water sitting in my washer. The next morning, I finally worked up the courage to tackle it. With gloves on and my breath held, I pulled the dirty towels and sheets out of the washer, threw them into a febreeze scented trash bag, and tied it up. Then…. siphoned vomitous water out with an old water jug we take camping with us. Then, I sprayed everything with with Lysol, including myself and finally… I went to the laundromat. It was 30 degrees outside. A flurrying. I treated myself to a vanilla spice latte while the clothes dried. Siphoning vomit water always deserves a Starbucks splurge! Anyway, thanks for your prayers for us laundromat mommies. I hope we get our washer situation figured out soon and I hope you are all well and your daughter enjoys her new room.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, my gracious. Osheta – eshet chayil! Woman of valour! Lordy.

  • Krista

    Oh so sorry. That sounds like a week that you won’t laugh at … maybe ever. Here’s hoping that all your sickies feel better soon and you get a nap, pronto!

  • Vicki Judd

    I’m glad you wrote this. In 30 years, you won’t remember it. Your tinies will have tinies of their own and they’ll ask you what you did when you had weeks like this and you’ll pull up this file and say, “Read this.” And then you’ll both have a good cry and hope will resurface. You’re awesome.

  • Ashleigh Baker

    How can you write about puke and still give me goosebumps and make me cry? Sarah Bessey, I love you. Wish I were there to do a few loads of laundry for you.

    • Lisa-Jo Baker

      What Ashleigh said!

  • Jenn


  • Jessica Williams

    Yes, Yes, Yes, it has been this kind of winter!

  • KathleenBasi

    Oh, my goodness, Sarah…you make my complaints today feel so small-hearted.

  • Donna Pineau

    My baby is 24 and just moved not only out of my house for the first time since she entered my womb, but OUT OF THE STATE! Enjoy even the crappy part of them because it will be over before you know it.

    And second, LOVE the Pure Charity sticker on your Mac. You rock!

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    It’s hard to see in the moment how good it is to be needed so badly by a child. It was so hard to pull away our side crib when our son Ethan transitioned to his crib. I suddenly missed having him wake up in the middle of the night next to us. Gosh. Never thought I’d write THAT!

    I hope you’ll find some rest soon. Hang in there.

  • Judy

    Oh how you brought back memories(and I hope soon all this is just a memory for you, and better times are soon!)
    The comment on the youngest flinging herself out of the crib just made me catch my breath-you just described my youngest. And, at the ripe old age of 21, she phoned home late last week, “Mom, I’m so sick and I just need to come home for your cooking and to cuddle the dog…” so she dragged herself home from college and spent the weekend in a time-travel cocoon involving lots of couch time and hot tea. They never forget how we care for them when they are little bits. Praying sleep for you soon, in plentiful supply.

  • Amy Wright

    I love you, too. I just love, love, love you. Sending you healing. And, laundry detergent.

  • To Think Is To Create

    It’s that lack of sleep that sends us to crazytown so fast. I hate that you’re so far away today. I want to rescue you and send you off to a spa and make it all better when you get back home. Love you sweets. ::passes tea and cake and air fresheners::

  • Erin

    Hang in there, mama. Love and prayers for you and your family. Your realness speaks to me every single time I approach your blog.

  • Amanda Medlin

    Can I just say I love you?! I don’t comment nearly enough, but I read and love every single one of your posts. You are amazing and I hope that your family heals quickly and that you find time for that much needed nap. {{hugs}}

    • Sarah Bessey

      Thank you so much, Amanda! Love seeing your name here in my comment section.

  • Kelly @ Love Well

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe a little of both. Know the feeling?

    Praying for you, sweets.

  • Janae Maslowski

    Oh my, how I loved this.
    Thanks for the laughter.

  • Kirsten

    This too shall pass! I remember being right where you are. Mine are now 14, 10, and 9. It’s a wonderful thing when they can actually make it to the bathroom. Hang in there. :)

    • Sarah Bessey

      I long for that day, Kirsten. :-)

  • Korrine Britton

    I’m so glad you have the words I don’t! Faith, family, parenting, housekeeping (blech!), renovation, caring for others…it’s what we all “do” everyday (although maybe not in such a dramatic fashion) in this crazy thing called life.

    Thanks for being so transparent; your words are always so encouraging.

  • Sandy Trzcinski Cooper

    That last line made me cry…I’m so busy taking care of my 3 that I haven’t noticed none of them are babies any more. Oh my word…NONE OF THEM ARE BABIES ANY MORE!!!!!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Well, misery loves company, Sandy… 😀

  • SortaCrunchy

    How can you do this to me with all of my hormones and all of the feeeeelings? And I know how you can write coherently – not to mention beautifully – after a week like that. But also, praise God for the Ergo.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Seriously. The Ergo has saved my sanity more times than I can count with three littles.

  • K

    soul twin – I put my “not-supposed-to-make-it”, “you-should-consider-a-termination” baby into a big girl bed this weekend. Thanks for articulating my feelings that were, until now, just confused tears!

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    I’m terrified. I’ve been wanting babies for so long…but now I think I’d just like to look at them from afar. ; )

    • Sarah Bessey

      Inside of a hazmat suit, preferably, eh?

  • Kelly Wiggains

    I think you experienced every possible emotion and scenario of motherhood in one week. Woman of Valor!

    • Sarah Bessey

      I’ll receive that! 😉

  • Sara

    This is the sweetest thing I have read in a long time. My mother passed away in November. She left behind dozens of journals she kept to record her thoughts on life and raising kids. This post reminds me of something she would write. She was so good at recording those ordinary, crazy frustrating, sweet moments in our lives. She was always aware of how fast time flies. Reading those things things she wrote is the most precious gift I could ask for. In the years to come, I know your kids will appreciate you more than you could ever imagine!

    • Sarah Bessey

      That is a beautiful tribute to your mum, Sara. I love the idea of giving that gift to the tinies, too. I think that’s one of Brian’s favourite things about my blog, is the family record side of it.

  • pastordt

    The house that Jack built, indeed. With a vengeance! I had several weeks like that in those dim dark ages of having small children – and they are exhausting and terribly difficult and almost always coupled with all kinds of other interesting pressure-filled experiences. I just figured if my kids were going to be up all night puking, I might as well get that wallpaper hung, you know? Made perfect sense to me. Picture ladders, scissors, long narrow boxes filled with water, large folding tables and the sound of sick children filtering in exactly when you’re pushing that paper flush with the wall. Yeah. I get this. Half of it happens to us and half of it we create. All of it is crazy-making. . . and at the same time, quite wonderful. Thanks for writing it down for us all to enjoy.

    • Sarah Bessey

      ha! Diana, I hoped and hoped that someone would be as crazy as me in that and here you are! So glad I’n not the only one doing that kind of stuff during weeks of madness.

  • Dipunk

    This is such a perfect word picture story (and I love that it reads like, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). I miss my tinies! But not the sick. 😉 You are a great mama!

  • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

    oh i just want to give you a big hug. And also, I want to not complain anymore b/c I don’t think I’ve ever had a week like that with my boys. I’ve generally only ever had 1 sick at a time, and there are only 2 total, so there’s that bit as well. Way to redeem the nightmare-ish elements of that week!

    • Sarah Bessey

      There was this one time when all three got sick at once and I was home alone, and I just started to laugh hysterically. I may have been a bit crazy…. 😉

  • KellyW2010

    and in 18 years your lovely child will call home and relay the news of a norovirus outbreak at college and plaintively tell you that all she wants is her mommy. And you will tell her how much you love her.

    But when you hang up, you will BLESS the fact that you can’t drive 6 hours to clean up more sick.

    You will call the next day to find out the worst is over, and feel a wee bit guilty about feeling so grateful.

    • Sarah Bessey


  • anastasia @ eco-babyz

    Wow! Quite the week! We have those too and they seem lllooooonnng!

  • Alana G

    dang you had a busy week. hope the house is clear of the sickness. that always sucks having a sick child. i can remember my mom when i was sick and heck even now when i’m sick i still want my mom and i’m old enough to tend to myself LOL.

  • Leanne Penny

    I read this yesterday as my son and I were stuck behind a train, after picking him up from preschool, which he finally was healthy enough to go back to! We’ve had such a similar month, the sickness, the cleaning, the endless laundry.

    I fear the day he starts to climb from the crib.

    You’re one of the most lovely souls I’ve ever encountered, thank you for spilling your heart in this space.

  • Lisa Christiansen

    This made me laugh (and cry) and smile remembering those days. All I can say is, every milestone is really only a new chapter. We can always re-read the past chapters in our memories…but we can never relive them. What a gift for your family that you’ve written these memories down!

  • Karen @ My Party of Five

    I am certain that you and I have everything in common and should therefore become best friends. Just sayin’.

  • genepp

    OH MY GOODNESS! This is my exact life! I am so thankful that you wrote this! You are wonderful! Thank YOU!

  • Shannon Vandewarker

    I laughed at the line about your baby climbing out of the crib, because I have totally been there. Found my ten month old on the floor flat on his back. Not funny at the time, but good to know I’m not the only paranoid mama. Now he sleeps on a memory foam mattress on the floor. Whatever works! Thanks for your honesty and reminder of how quickly they grow up. Love your writing!