When they're sick, when I'm sick, too, it always goes this way.
I cradle them, my arms something solid and dependable when everything else feels out of control. Because throwing up is unsettling for anyone, but surely frightening for a little person.
And as I hold their little body to mine, or two bodies as it went this past weekend, the reassurance I know they feel in my arms also transfers to me.
I like to think I am a good patient, in general, but when the threat of Exorcist puking is upon me, I get foetal. Teary and panicked.
It's almost like a little panic attack. Almost.
But the days are gone when I can languish in panicked despair. And being a family means when one spews, all spew, and so it is almost always the case that I am called on to be carer whilst also being the patient.
This last weekend I had the misfortune of being stuck in gastro limbo - that awul period of time when you know it's coming but it's not here yet and the waiting is excruciating. It went on for most of the day and in the confusion, my mind played host to the competing compulsions to eat a burger AND stick my fingers down my throat.
Each time I was called upon to be someone other than the patient, I initially fretted. What if I threw up on a small, convalescing head? Or a breastfeeding baby? But each time, the responsibility of being someone's mother was enough to alter the moment. My breathing slowed, my heart rate following suit and this purpose was a balm to the quease and unease.
Being a mother, being needed, will tear me apart a little each day. But in the moments when I am feeling anxiously Angie, being needed as someone's mother is ultimately what saves me.
And so this past weekend, I found myself feeling overwhelmed by these three. Struck with the knowledge that they have centred me and given me a focus that has changed my life and soothed my troubled mind.
As I held my babes, sick and sorrowful though we all were, I understood that this has been my greatest accomplishment. Nothing I do will be as profound or important. Profound and important things are still to come. I will do them and I will feel them but this, this is something else.
And it always goes this way.