Weary & Bruised

After sleeping roughly fifty minutes, I woke to a sound that had me thinking wait, we don’t have a fish tank. In the darkness of our midnight room I leapt to Olive’s crib. She was choking on vomit. My hands became soaked with what felt like vaseline and applesauce. As I yelled for Luke to turn our lights on, I picked up our drenched babe and slapped her back repeatedly.

The lights came on and something akin to a jellyfish flew out of her mouth. For the next ten hours, she either screamed or became ill again. Turns out, she’s the 1.6% that has an allergic reaction to the flu shot. We have adhered to a delayed ala-Dr. Sears vaccination schedule with all our babes and with each stick of the needle I wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Betty reacted badly to the polio vaccine at a similar age, and also has an egg allergy. Maybe Olive has an egg allergy, too. I should have trusted my gut. My other girls never got the flu shot until they were done nursing. I’ve always gotten the shot for myself, but I was swayed with us volunteering at the elementary school. Swayed by the CDC and other mom’s advice.
The following poem was read at our wedding. It’s by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

I didn’t realize when a childhood best friend read this at our wedding seven years ago that I would come to repeat it’s lines by coffee pot’s brew or shower’s steam. The part about waking weary and bruised to the bone has echoed in my head lately.
After sleepless nights, we make sure backpacks are zipped and toast is buttered. We braid blonde hair and giggle on the way to school drop-off.
After sleepless nights, we sew a doll for a fast-approaching birthday girl and help an eager preschooler with a craft she’s excited about. We bake cupcakes for school parties and play dollhouse while our eyes fight dream-state.
And tonight, although sleep beckons, we’ll frost cupcakes and carve pumpkins. Like holidays, children can not wait.
Although Olive’s tummy itches in a vaccine-induced rash, she’s pretty much recovered. Halloween costumes hang in the sewing room, pumpkins sit on doorsteps and a cake needs frosting.
If you’d like a chance at a very adorable skirt, check out my giveaway here. Comments close tonight at 7:00.
My mind, though sleepy, is on poetry now. I wrote this poem [10.26.04 at 3 pm] while on bed rest with Olive’s oldest sister, Betty. One year ago, I was coming off bed rest and awaiting birth, a new babe, my favorite holiday
Little Goblin
only orange gourds
with butterfly kisses
scatter on grass
only contest scarecrows
with pumpkin smiles
whisper at roadside
only curly maple leaves
with amber-sap blessings
mosaic our doorstep
only chocolate spiders
with silk dream catchers
dance in dawn’s fog
only Evergreens silently sway
an autumn lullaby
as you wait to be born
but, still, no snow
across Ebey’s Prairie.


  • Beautiful poem, Jenn. How scary for you and Luke; how sad for little Olive. So glad she's feeling better.
    Lots of Halloween fun to you guys this weekend. 🙂

  • I love how you love Halloween (I'm ambivalent).
    And holy barfing jellyfishes, that is some scary stuff. Good job with the supermama instincts!

  • Yikes. We're vaccinating along the lines of Dr. Sears as well, and were totally on the fence about the flu shot this year (ended up doing it just before your post). Scary stuff. Instincts, instincts, instincts!!

    But alas, a beautiful, beautiful, down-to-the-bones post. One of the most beautiful I've ever read.

  • franny says:

    Wow Jen! Beautiful writing about the stuff of life, jellyfish and all. I”m glad that's over with! Say hi to Luke, give girls hugs from an old stranger. You are such an awesome mama!

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