A mom of a daughter and two sons, I once harbored grand delusions of escaping one of parenthood's most feared events. That the lockers in our elementary school combined with my fervent prayers to please, God, please let me avoid this single milestone, just might be enough to keep the malady at bay.
But in June, my dreams were shattered when our household was exposed to lice. LIIIICE.
One minute, we were toweling off the kids after bath time, reveling in the emotional high of our picnic dinner and Christmas-card-worthy photo shoot at a nearby park (photos I can never look at again because LIIIICE). The next, I was breathing into a paper bag and scouring the stores for shampoos, combs, scissors and hair clips. The boys were buzzed to the scalp. Our poor girl sobbed as I chopped her beautiful brown hair from past her shoulders to chin length. I called the pediatrician's office three times in one day to confess botching the pre-treatment directions and to explore the maximum length of time a head can absorb pesticides before too many brain cells are compromised.
That first weekend, I spent 15 hours over a day and a half pulling at the strands on my daughter's head, reeking in my own stink and sobbing on the phone with my mother because I didn't know what I was doing and I WANT MY MOMMY.
I think part of the reason it took me so long was my unwillingness to be "all in" with the task at hand. It's not like I expected a lice fairy to glide into my home and say, "Don't worry, love, I've got this," but...maybe? After all, God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites. Jesus fed thousands people with five loaves and two fish. Miracles happen, is what I'm saying.
Luke was an option, but he was already overwhelmed with deep cleaning the house, and besides, he had done his fair share -- pulling the boys from their beds at one o'clock in the morning after Another Sighting to shave them in the tub, agreeing that the fewer heads we had to worry about, the better. That was just as fun as it sounds!
The only way to get these effing bugs out of my child's head was to do it myself.
So I did.
Eventually I mastered my technique and was able to check her head in three hours. Now I feel like the Chuck Norris of head lice. I'd add this skill to my resume if it weren't so disgusting. And Indy-area peeps? If you encounter A Sighting and aren't sure where to turn? You've got a friend.
The first couple of days were all-consuming with runs to the store, stripping the house and combing through heads, but after finishing me and Kara off with a hot air treatment, life returned to normal. One vacation day, one missed soccer practice and that was it. I checked our girl's head every two to three days, either dry hair strand by strand or with a conditioner/comb combo. I called the parents of all the kids we'd played with recently and the children's ministry director at church to explain the situation (not embarrassing at all, especially with moms you don't know that well!). We replaced our dying vacuum cleaner and dryer to handle the extra cleaning. I barked at my kids to keep their heads off the floor in public places and scratched my own for a good two months AFTER we were deemed lice free. (And maybe still today, gaaah LIIIICE.) All while we went about our bidness.
So I learned two things from this dramatic and also sitcom-style debacle:
1) Momastery was right: I can do hard things. As the oldest of five and one of four daughters, I vividly remember dealing with lice as a kid. Those letters from school sent my mother into a frenzy of stripping beds, bagging stuffed animals and dousing my head with entire bottles of product. (#thickhair) (#sorrymom) She was my hero, and never in a million years did I believe I could handle the same situation with any amount of dignity or grace. But I did handle it. I summited my personal Everest and lived to tell the tale.
2) I can live with crisis. I can deal with an issue that shakes me to the core while also realizing that I will not die, and this too shall pass. It hasn't always felt that way over the years, as I've adjusted to career transitions, family matters and an overall feeling of not knowing my place in the world, but this time, I looked fear in the eye and tackled it LIKE A BOSS.
Damn right, Chuck Norris.