Doing with what I don’t enjoy doing

or The one thing I don’t enjoy about being a parent

Warning: Part one of this post deals with a not so pleasant subject matter. Please do not read before eating.

Part One
Throw up, vomit, barf, hurle, puke, or kyle (a euphemism I coined in the mid-eighties after working at a day camp with a camper named Kyle, who threw up a lot). Cleaning up my children’s vomit is the one thing I really don’t enjoy. I don’t like the way it looks or smells.

My 4 yr old was sick last week, really sick. She tried to make it to the bathroom (and did for the second round) but didn’t quiet make it on the first try. We have very little carpeting in our home, which worked to my advantage for clean up.

I really can’t stand the smell that results from the act of vomiting. In fact, I almost start throwing up myself (like in the movie “Stand By Me“), as was the case last week.

I’ve found over the years that it’s best to clean up this kind of mess with a “Chip Clip” plugging my nose. It hurts a bit, but it works for me. The clip on my nose and a can of Lysol works pretty well for me. I don’t smell a thing and can take care of what needs to be cleaned up. My daughter was really brave and actually got a good laugh at me with my chip clip on my nose.

In the end, my daughter went back to sleep (after a bath) and I got to work on clean up. It was really quite yucky. The floor outside the bathroom and the bathroom itself do smell great, though.

Part Two
I admit, despite the crutch of the chip clip, I did alright with a situation that I can’t stand. As I was driving to work two days later (I only have a 12 minute commute and I tend to think really fast after two cups of coffee in the morning) I asked myself, “Why is it that when push comes to shove, I can muster enough gusto to deal with throw up, but still can’t deal with other things in life that smell a whole lot better?”

Perhaps it’s has to do with the necessity of a situation. With vomit on a floor you really have no choice but to clean it up. Other things like: staying up way too late, wanting to sleep in, putting off a conversation with someone about something serious, changes in careers, dealing with the reality of your kids not being “A plus” students, taking on a more healthier lifestyle…can all be put off for a while. Or, at least, that what I tell myself.

If we can delay dealing with issues we don’t like, then we do. Scratch that! If I can delay dealing with issues that I don’t like, then I do.

In truth, my approach needs to be more like dealing with vomit. If it’s on the floor, then it needs to be cleaned up.

I read a great quote from Avi Shulman years ago. I, of course, wrote it down:
“Until the pain of staying the same become greater than the pain of change, we will never change.”

12 thoughts on “Doing with what I don’t enjoy doing

  1. der ewige Jude

    Inertia in physics means that things that are at rest prefer to remain at rest unless energy is added to the system. Metaphysical inertia works the same way. It is up to us to add the learning or kavanah or intensity that will increase energy to our system. Just like raising our children, they aren’t going to learn to read and write on their own, we have to encourage them to practice and keep trying until finally they get hold of it and make it their own, but they need to have that initial nudging from us.

  2. Ari Kinsberg

    what is so bad about the smell of vomit? it is not any worse than a dirty diaper.

    the only thing i don’t like about vomit is that it is not contained the way a dirty diaper is. my son was sick during our vacation to israel this summer and threw up hourly for 5 day. repeatedly all over the apt., the car, in the street, etc.

  3. Neil Harris

    “The entire purpose of our existence is to overcome our negative traits”- atributed to the GRA

    “It is easier to learn all of shas then to correct one bad middah.”- R Yisrael Salanter

  4. Bob Miller

    Practical question:

    What can be done about vomit that lands on linoleum or carpeting on Shabbos?

    Is there some well-known halachic opinion on this?

  5. muse

    Excellent, post really.
    I always called my husband to deal with vomit when he was around, becuase I can gag from the smell. The kids joke about how whenever they said they had to throw up, I said: “Get abba.”
    never thought of clipping my nose.

  6. David in Yerushalayim

    Excellent post, that made me think.

    In terms of the analogy, we are motivated to clean up the vomit because we are viscerally disgusted by it, ’till the point where we need to hold our nose.

    Therefore, the mussar seforim focus our attention on the genus, degradation, of bad middos, so we’ll be motivated to cleanse them from our system.

  7. Neil Harris

    Rafi: “but why do we avoid dealing with those situations? “

    Simply because it’s the easier choice. Safety vs. Change

    Bob: thanks for the link.

    Muse: Necessity is the ima of invention.

    David: Very true, thanks for reading.

  8. RaggedyMom

    Nothing smells worse than the throw-up of little kids. I have learned that when push comes to shove, I am sadly the parent who says, “Ew!” while RaggedyDad is the parent who lifts the child onto himself (wearing machine wash undershirt or pjs) and has him/her throw up onto him vs. the bed, crib, carpet, couch. G-d bless him, but that is totally not for me!

  9. frumhouse

    Love the post! I too start gagging when I have to clean throw up or a particularly awful diaper. The chip clip idea is great!

    I too have heard that quote about being unwilling to change until staying the same is too painful. It seems to be human nature to resist change. We will endure awful situations for years because it is “safe and familiar.” We fear change.


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