If you ever see a mom who doesn’t have freshly shaved legs and armpits, don’t judge. She probably hasn’t been able to shower in peace for like, three years. Because that’s what happens when you have kids. You can’t ever get A MOMENT’S PEACE, not even in the shower. And sometimes, it’s either conditioner or shaving, but not both.
I remember the day we brought Monkey home from the hospital. The storming undercurrent of hormones finally overtook my fragile mental existence and I literally LOST it when I tried to go take a shower, because the baby wanted to eat for like, the 7th time in two hours. I just stood in the doorway to the kitchen, sobbing, my shoulders shaking. My husband was sitting on the couch, cradling the newborn, watching me with a terrified expression on his face probably because he was thinking, “Crap, now I’ve got to figure out how to take care of this thing by myself because my wife has gone batsh*t crazy.” All because I just wanted to take a shower.
In the last two weeks, I’ve made a vow to try not to “lose my sh*t” so much. I’ve been seeing this phrase used on a lot of mom blogs lately to aptly describe the feeling when you’re about to go out of your mind, explode into rage, or in general, are at your wit’s end. I like it.
Two weeks ago I was trying to make cookies with Monkey, but Bean wasn’t sleeping for me. So in the process of running between the kitchen and her bedroom trying to coax her back to sleep (total fail, BTW) I burned a sheet of cookies. Then I spilled an entire bag of butterscotch chips on the floor. After which I burned my hand really badly on the hot cookie sheet. I really lost my sh*t. And then Monkey got really scared because I was yelling and she started screaming crying and saying “Mama, stop it, mama stop it!” I realized I didn’t want to be scaring my kids like that and I vowed to stop losing my sh*t.
Coincidentally, around the same time I picked up this great book by Amy Wilson — When Did I Get Like This? The Screamer, The Worrier, The Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget-Buyer & Other Mothers I Swore I’d Never Be — that my neighbor/friend/fellow mom recommended. This book was like therapy. In it she talks about how she was a screamer, and now she’s a reformed screamer because she realized that she was scaring her kids. Plus they were starting to ignore her screaming because they had gotten used to. That really ticked her off. So she decided to stop losing her sh*t. After her extensive research and reading about parenting, she distilled what she learned down to the following, which I now have taped to my fridge:
Lower my voice instead of raise it.
Model flexibility rather than impatience.
Embrace my child rather than my frustration.
ANYWAY, back to being hairy and not having a moment’s peace to shower. We are in a transition period in our house. Bean is in that in-between period where instead of waking up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. to eat and then going back to sleep, she’s waking up at the undesirable time of 6:15 or 6:30. She’s not quite making it to 7 a.m. which would be preferred. Plus when she wakes up at 6:15 or 6:30 she doesn’t go back to sleep after I feed her. Which means, she’s not waking up early enough for me to shower and get ready after I feed her, or before. And Monkey, for whatever reason — probably because she can sense the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates or something, she’s very sensitive like that — has been waking up before 7 a.m. for the last week as well, instead of 7:15 or 7:30 a.m. which is typical for her. And this is not good because I really need to shower people! I mean, I know I work from home, but I do take SOME pride in my appearance and general removal of body hair.
So yesterday Bean wakes up at 6:25. I feed her and make a valiant effort to coax her back to sleep so that I can shower, because I know she’s not going to be happy if I leave her in the crib awake for more than five minutes. And I know she’s not going to be happy if I lay her on my bathroom floor either. She’ll cry just as loudly plus she’ll be in danger of rolling over and getting stuck underneath the toilet. I jiggle and rock and lay her down, only to have her wide awake and rolling around in her crib as soon as I walk out the door. Damn. It’s now 6:50. I turn on the shower just in time to hear Bean start to express her dissatisfaction with being left alone. I’ve only managed to rinse the shampoo out of my hair and start to condition when Monkey walks into my bathroom announcing that she has to go potty.
Not a problem. This is totally doable because Monkey can now pull her bottoms off and use a stool to get herself up and on the toilet. In fact, she often insists that we let her go to the bathroom by herself. Plus, she sleeps in a pull-up, so it’s no big deal if she has an accident while I’m in the shower.
I instruct Monkey to go get her stool. She comes back and I start to lead her through the steps of pulling down her pajamas when she stops me.
“Mama, I need a wipe.”
“A wipe? What do you need a wipe for? You only need a wipe for poopy.”
“Monkey — what do you need a wipe for?”
I crack the shower door to prevent flooding the bathroom and look at her. She stares back at me.
“What’s going on? What do you need a wipe for,” I ask again for the third time, starting to get a little irritated now because she’s not answering me and for the love of God I am trying to hurry up in the shower because I can hear Bean over the baby monitor expressing extreme dissatisfaction.
“What IS dis?” Monkey points down to her foot.
I look. Oh in the name of all things holy and sacred.
“Monkey! That’s poop! How did you get poop on your foot!
The red lights on the monitor are now brilliantly lit up and Bean is on her way to a complete meltdown.
A million conflicting thoughts are running through my head as the shower door is now gaping open, water pouring everywhere. I consider losing my sh*t, but don’t. Monkey clearly didn’t do this on purpose. She doesn’t look happy. She’s not grinning deviously. I remember the tips on my fridge. I am staring at Monkey trying to figure out what to do. I wonder if I could walk her through how to wipe the poop off her foot, but dismiss the idea before I’ve even completely thought it. That scenario would only result in her then having poop all over her hands, arms and legs.
I momentarily consider whether I could finish my shower, but there’s no way. Monkey has a HUGE chunk of poop on her foot and I don’t trust her to stay in the bathroom, even if I explicitly tell her to. Plus, I don’t want even more poop tracked around my bathroom than there already is. Oh. And eww. It smells. Bad.
There’s just no way around it. I have to abandon my shower. With conditioner still in my hair. I come out of the shower and further inspect the mess. She has somehow got her pull-up wedged halfway up her butt cheek. I’m not sure if she pooped in her sleep? Or woke up and started to poop and then tried to remove her pull-up to finish on the toilet and the poop fell out. I have no idea. I do know, however, that I can now see poop on her other foot too. Ugh. I wipe the biggest chunk off.
“STAY HERE. DO NOT MOVE,” I say in my most stern voice.
I dash naked and dripping down the hall to the other bathroom for the toddler wipes, STILL NOT LOSING MY SH*T BUT REALLY WANTING TO, and realizing that I just instructed Monkey to walk down this very carpeted hallway, from my carpeted bedroom, to get the stool, with poop on BOTH of her feet. I am on the lookout for more chunks of poop. Our carpet is beige with brown spots. I don’t have my contacts in or glasses on. I am PRAYING that I’m not about to step in poop.
The other bathroom offers further clues. Several pieces of poop scattered on the floor. At this point I throw my hands up in the air and beg, WHY, GOD, WHY? Okay, not really. I just grab the toddler wipes, run into Bean’s room where she is in a full wail, open her shade, shove the nuk in her mouth and run back to my bathroom. I start cleaning the chunks of poop off Monkey’s feet. Except I can’t properly clean her.
I throw her in the shower with me. I give her a full body scrub down and examine every inch for more signs of poop, all the while wondering if there are tiny pieces of fecal matter on my hallway carpet and “how on earth am I going to clean that!?” Thank God I don’t see poop anywhere else on her body. No seriously, thank you. At least now she has the sense to understand that poop is disgusting and didn’t start finger painting with it.
I wrap her up in a towel and inform her to sit on the bathroom floor until I’m done. Meanwhile, I frantically wash the conditioner out of my hair and run some soap over my own body. Damn, Bean is not impressed by my flimsy effort to appease her with the nuk and has moved on to stage 3 — the “I’ve been crying so hard now for so long that I am hyperventilating because you are never going to come back for me, and for surely I am going to die” stage. I run out of the shower again — at this point the entire bathroom has been flooded — and I run to pick her up and inspect the rest of the collateral damage. Obviously, I’m still naked and dripping. Two spots of poop on Monkey’s bed. Two spots of poop on her bedroom carpet. I squint at the hallway again and am 99% certain she didn’t track poop prints down the hall and between the bedrooms. I have no idea how she didn’t.
BUT, through all of it, I DID NOT LOSE MY SH*T. I do admit though, that when I was trying to squirt the three-quarters empty bottle of Fantastik on the bathroom floor, after trying to squirt the three-quarters empty bottle of Resolve carpet cleaner on Monkey’s bedroom carpet, while STILL naked, I did mutter some choice words about the ridiculousness that is trying to get those damn cleaners to work when there is still enough solution in the bottle that it SHOULD work, yet all it does is spew bubbles in the most imbecile, inefficient and frustrating way. What is UP with that!? At that point though, Monkey and Bean were safe in another room and didn’t hear my slight rant.
BUT I DID NOT LOSE MY SH*T!