My Kids Learned to Fend for Themselves While I Cleaned the Bathroom
I squeezed my hands into yellow rubber gloves and headed for the toilet. Glamorous.
After leaving this gruesome chore for far too many
weeks months, I shut myself in the basement bathroom and told the kids I wasn’t coming out until it was clean.
I avoid rubber gloves, raw meat and cleaning toilets. The minute my hands are inaccessible is the exact moment that my children need me. (You know, Murphy’s Law again.)
In the newborn years and especially in the newborn-AND-a-toddler years, time is of the essence.
In the newborn-AND-a-toddler years, Momma is always watching. Always on high alert. Ready to jump up and fly across the room to catch a falling child, grab an angry kid-hand before it strikes, catch a falling plate of spaghetti or grab a cup of milk before it splashes all over the kitchen.
Society scoffs at helicopter parents. We judge them and think, “Ha…they should be giving their kids more space.” and “How are their children ever going be independent?”
It’s a different story when the kids are tiny and you are the one responsible all day long, all night long and all week long.
The moment a new momma is handed her first baby she is responsible. The feeding, sleeping, safety, emotional well-being and intellectual development of a teeny tiny person are her responsibility. Hopefully Dad is there to help but Mom is usually the one bearing the emotional weight of it around the clock.
When my son was born the heaviness of the responsibility hit me full-on. I would tell myself “Women do this all the time all over the world. Suck it up. You’re the mother now. Relax.” When my daughter came along I revved up into an even higher gear, this time bouncing back and forth between the two like a ping-pong ball, trying (often failing) to meet their pressing needs simultaneously.
When my arms were elbow-deep in the toilet this morning, I realized something.
The kids called: “Momma, can you please get me a snack?” “Mommy, find my soother!” I kept saying, “You can do it! I’ll help you in a second!” After a few minutes of this, they stopped asking. It got very, very quiet. I peeked out of the bathroom.
My 2-year-old daughter was helping my 5-year-old son do up the zipper on his Superman costume.
My son found his own shiny red cape and velcro belt in the costume basket.
My daughter dug around under the blanket and popped her own soother in her mouth.
My son was at the sink, washing strawberries and cutting off the green parts with a kitchen knife for his little sister.
They were just fine. They were a little more independent than they had been the day before.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the day to day-ness of parenting that I don’t notice when things shift a little. Difficult behaviours or patterns that drive me crazy for weeks or months mysteriously disappear overnight and replace themselves with something new.
The changes come a bit at a time, maybe even when I’m just cleaning the bathroom.
*This story was first posted on The Purple Fig.
Fear and Bumbos
High Alert! Breaking News! Yesterday new parents around North America were tweeting, facebooking and texting in a panic. No, it was not a child abduction or abuse case. No, it was not a report on children being mistreated, starved or locked in a basement. It was just another Bumbo recall.
Before I had Brother B I marched out and bought a brand-new green Bumbo. That’s what you do now when you have a baby: buy expensive plastic things that will make you a good parent. The Bumbo helps your baby sit up before they can sit alone. The typical baby uses it for about 3.5 hours over the course of a few weeks. In 2007 a “recall” was issued because too many parents were using the Bumbo on the table or counter. Babies were falling out. Duh. The “recall” involved putting a sticker on the Bumbo that basically said, “Don’t
be an idiot put the Bumbo on the table.”
Every since I was young it has bothered me that you need a license to have a dog or cat but anybody can have a baby.
The latest recall of 4 million Bumbos is due to a few injuries. A couple of parents left their child in the Bumbo (either on a table or off). The children wriggled around, fell out, and banged their heads. They got hurt. A no-brainer. Not a reason to cause a panic and give new mothers yet one more thing to worry about.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Bring out the helmets and the bubblewrap. Close the curtains, lock the doors and keep those children safe!
- Bumbo recall a parental failure (o.canada.com)
A love I can’t begin to describe
Just when I think I am unable to love any more, I do.
Little A has been “walking” for months by holding onto hands. Anyone’s hands will do: mine, D’s, Brother B’s (which is adorable!). Around Mother’s Day she gathered up her courage and walked from person to person. This week she got brave. D’s parents are visiting and everyone was sitting in the living room. I was banging and crashing in the kitchen by myself when I heard “Mah-Mah? Mahhhhh-Mah?” Then, “thump, thump, thump, thump” as her tiny body and delighted face peeked around the corner. She ran to me with that look that people have when they’ve returned from a long journey and first see a loved one. It was the longest journey she had ever taken. Her shining eyes said, “You are everything to me. Thank you. Thank you for being up in the night with me for months and months. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for being my Mah-mah.”
If you are struggling with a new baby and trying to find yourself in the crazy new world of motherhood, hang on. Your reward is coming, sooner than you think. Blessings.
Do not look forward to a night away with your spouse (Murphy’s Law #1)
I’ve learned this the HARD way. My parents were booked weeks in advance to come and stay with the kiddies for a night while D and I went away (somewhere, anywhere!). I looked forward to that night like you would not believe. Little A was around 8 months old, had stopped nursing and was still up in the night, about a million times. Brother B was still yelling out at least once in the middle of the night, waking up Little A again. A real gong show. We were in the trenches of not-sleeping-baby, not-sleeping-preschooler and not-sleeping-parents. I lived for that night away. Lo and behold, as the day approaches, Grandma gets sick. Murphy’s Law. Anyone else?