As my children get older this parenting gig is starting to give me a little more breathing room. They play together for long periods without fighting, and without needing me to be right there all the time. I spend most of my time with them reading out loud, making three meals and as many snacks for them to inhale, and supervising cleanup. Occasionally I have to break up a fight. This leaves me with several moments of the day when I can begin to see that I may actually get to things I’ve been ignoring for several years now. All this is just in time of course for me to find out that there is another on the way and I will soon be back in the thick of diapers and breast feeding, not that I’m quite done with either of those at this point, and sleepless nights. I appreciate the perspective that this time is giving me though. I now know that there does come a time when it gets easier to be a mom, and when the routine changes, and when things slow down in a way, and I can look forward to it through the days when it seems overwhelming. Days like the Technicolor puke day of a year ago. If you had told me I was pregnant that day, I may have cried, for a long time.
We were living in Vancouver. The Genius husband was working nights and the kids never saw him so I was parenting solo. For some reason he was gone in the morning that day as well and had forgotten his caffeinated peppermints on the kitchen table. Why he ever brought them in from the car remains a mystery. Three of these mints have as much caffeine in them as one cup of coffee. The Boy, then three, got into the kitchen before I did and rapidly consumed at least twenty of them at once and dissolved several into a cup of old tea that he then drank from. I didn’t know about this when he went upstairs to play with the neighbor’s son. (We traded childcare so we could do basic things like shower, laundry, dinner, though the kids all liked being upstairs way more than being downstairs with me, I guess I’m less fun.) I was preparing to get into the shower with the Girl, then 1, when I found the caffeine bombs on the table, and in the tea. I had no idea how many he had eaten, because I didn’t know how full the tin was before he emptied it. A second later my friend upstairs brought him down and said, “He told me he was sick and needed to throw up but it looks like he just spit food on his shirt.”
She had just fed him blueberry juice and cereal. Still hoping to get a shower, mistake number one, I took the Boy and the Girl in with me as he was covered in food and complaining about being cold and she just needed to be near me. But the shower wasn't working to warm him up. He continued to whine about being cold. So I got him out and wrapped him in a towel leaving the Girl in the tub with the water. At that exact moment he projectile vomited blueberry juice all over the bathroom floor. Taking a moment to be glad I wrapped him in a blue towel, I threw it over the vomit and mopped it into the corner. He was shivering and clammy so I ran, still naked and soaking wet, to the bedroom on the other end of the house to find him some warm clothes. As I was digging in the drawer for some pants I heard, “MOM, the Girl pooed!" I ran back with a shirt in my hand to see the Girl standing at the edge of the tub screaming as she tried to get away from the giant log that was floating toward her.
There I was, naked and soaking wet, vomit in a corner of the bathroom on the floor, poo in the bathtub and a child who may have severely poisoned himself shivering on a stool.
Anyone who has parented for a while knows that this story is going to get worse before it gets better, which it did.
I pulled the Girl out of the bathtub and stick her on her potty in case she had any more business to do.
Then I fished the poo out of the bathtub and put it in the toilet. I'm pretty sure I used toilet paper so I didn't touch it directly, but I really don't remember. While I was draining and rinsing the tub and the toys, making a mental note to disinfect everything later, the Boy reminded me that he was cold and I finally remembered to put the shirt I fetched for him on.
Of course, just as I turned back to the tub I heard him gagging, and turned back just in time to be on the receiving end of another blast of bright purple Technicolor puke.
So I took off his now dirty shirt and ran back to the bedroom to find him another one. Still naked I might add, now with vomit.
Upon returning I discovered that the Girl had wondered off of her potty and decided that the floor in the kitchen under her high chair is an ideal place to pee. There goes another towel.
We all got in the not yet disinfected tub again to shower off the pee, poo and vomit covering us all.
We managed to get out this time before anyone pooed or vomited, hurray!
Got the the kids dry, the Girl diapered, though she'd done all the damage she could, and finally wrapped a towel around myself.
Got the Boy dressed, while trying to get him hydrated a little, and put him in bed.
Called Aaron to find out how many caffeine bombs were in the tin.
Called poison control.
Listened the man at poison control exclaim, “He ate how many?”
Started to really panic until he explained that the vomiting is a good sign; he probably got most of it out of him that way.
Hung up and checked on the Boy, who was sleeping.
Put on clothes.
Started to clean up pee in the kitchen and vomit in the bathroom.
Started a load of laundry.
Ran back to answer the phone. Poison control called back to check on his status.
They kept calling until he woke up and I could describe his condition to them. They were awesome.
Finished cleaning the bathroom floor.
Put clothes on the Girl.
Answered the phone again; no he’s not awake yet.
Called the Genius husband to tell him how his son was doing.
Ate breakfast, at last.
Held the now awake Boy in my lap and checked him for signs of clamminess, excessive energy (definitely not), nausea, etc.
Told poison control that he was no longer sweating and that he asked for something to eat.
Sighed in relief as they said, "He'll probably be fine."
Collapsed in an exhausted puddle in the rocker to think about how funny this story will be when it’s retold. You know, in a year or too, when the horror has worn off.
These are the kinds of days we get to survive in order to rate all the others against and say, "Yeah, that wasn't so bad. No one vomited on me today and I got to handle everything wearing clothes. Good day."
So, tell me your worst parenting day so far.