My friends that don’t have (or don’t yet have) kids often talk about all of the things they don’t-think-they-could-slash-wouldn’t-want-to-handle that typically come along with having kids. These things very often include such items as:
Being puked on.
Being peed on.
Being pooped on.
Getting no sleep.
Pushing a baby out.
The list can go on…
I always tell them not to worry about this stuff. There is something that clicks in when you become a mom that allows you to handle even the most unsavory of situations with a level of poise that you didn’t even know you could have on no sleep and a diet of cold leftovers that you ate off of your kids’ plates in between washing their hands and trying to unscrew the caps from their sippy cups so you can put them into the dishwasher. (Two things: #1 You feel guilty about putting said sippy cups into the dishwasher because they are plastic and you know that there are secret hidden poisons that can leach out of the plastics and get even worse when put into the dishwasher. Ridding the house of all plastics and possibly even the dishwasher and microwave has crossed your mind, but then you remember that your husband would never let you go that far. #2 How is it that those darn sippy cup caps get on there so tight that you have to channel all of your strength and use a silicon potholder to increase your grip and be able to open them? Every. single. time.)
Princess Rapunzel has asthma. It flares up most when she has a cold and typically turns her cold into croup which has been known to keep the poor little princess up all night long. I remember our first time with croup. The first time that you hear that distinct croup cough coming out of your child, you immediately go into panicked parent mode and will more than likely end up in the ER. Croup has sent us to the ER either three or four times at this point and now we are complete experts and can handle it on our own like champs. So croup came to visit a couple of nights ago. I was in bed and heard PR cry on the monitor. When I got to her room and asked her what was wrong, she just continued to cry. I was in the midst of asking her to use her words to explain the problem to me when I heard it. Unmistakable. I grabbed her out of bed and ran outside into the cold while yelling downstairs to the Original Boo who was unsuspectingly watching TV. There I was, barefoot on the porch in below-freezing weather with poor PR coughing, crying and puking on my shoulder. It’s these moments when I somehow know exactly what to do next and am completely unphased by my freezing toes and my gross shoulder, that I realize there is no denying that I’m a mom. Through and through.
PR was much better after the nebulizer treatment that OB set up for her. I gave her a bath, which was somehow the third bath that I’d given in the last twelve hours. And if you haven’t kept up with this blog so far, I only have two kids. Who gives three baths in less than a day? Only a mom (well, maybe a nurse). I considered the time of night and carefully unzipped my puked-on hoodie, deeming myself ok to go to bed and shower in the morning. That’s some mom logic right there. When we got PR settled back into bed, my mommy senses were on high alert and kept me up for another hour to make sure that if I heard any distress on her monitor, I could leap into action at record speeds.
I’m not sure what, if anything, can truly prepare someone for parenthood. Mainly because it’s a 24/7 job with no vacation or sick time. Not even personal days or paid time off! I babysat a lot in high school and definitely had plenty of experience with kids. One of the families that I regularly babysat for had two girls and then added a baby boy to the mix. I remember the first time that I watched all three, they warned me that baby boy had reflux and said that he was likely to spit up or puke a lot. The minute that he was done with his first bottle, he was projectile vomiting across the room straight into the fireplace. I had thought that I’d prepared for this by having a burp cloth with me, but prepared I was not. The right amount of preparedness for that situation would have been to have that place tarped down like I was expecting Dexter. (Alright parents – please be more specific with your babysitter if your child has this problem. Make sure that they really know what to expect. Post a YouTube video to their Facebook wall or something.) Then there was the time that I was working for a brand new family that had three boys, ages four, two and two months. I was changing the baby when the older boys ran into their bedroom, slammed the door and locked me out. That was fun. Or the time that I set popcorn on fire in the microwave one New Year’s Eve. Everything turned out fine and to be fair, it’s really hard to find a sitter that is willing to give up their NYE night to watch your kids, so what’s a little smoke in exchange for a night out with no kids? I had more run-ins with puking, a poop in the bathtub, a mouse in the bathtub, a dog that I let out and then forgot about… So while I managed to survive all of these situations and come out relatively unscathed (all children and pets survived as well), there was never the level of calm under pressure that you have once you are actually caring for your own kids.
So if you are thinking about snotty noses and tummy aches and are afraid that you won’t know what to do to make it better, you’re forgetting one thing. What makes everything better is Mom (and Dad). In the worst of situations, your kids just want you. And you’ll be there, knowing exactly what to do next and thinking, “Yup, I’m a mom.”