Parenting is HARD. If I had to go back and tell my pre-parent self anything about parenting it would be that it is so freaking hard. It’s also incredibly gross and unbelievably exhausting. I’ve been a parent for over 13 years and I’ve definitely had my share of “Oh My God did that really just happen?” parenting moments. Now that my children are growing older I’ve found less of these moments and more “Oh My God this is pure hell” moments. Big kids, big problems, right?
Anyway, on a recent date night with my husband we took some time to reminisce about those parenting stories of ours that seemed so awful at the time but have begun to pale in comparison to what we foresee is ahead of us. And we laughed and laughed…
In order of occurrence:
1. That time when my first daughter flipped out at Chili’s. My husband and I love to eat out. We somehow convinced ourselves that having a child would not limit this habit of ours in any way. We saw people with children out all of the time. We were going to be amazing parents and our kid was going to be super cool and calm. It was NOT going to be an issue. So one night when my daughter was about three months old we decided, on impulse, to stop for dinner at a Chili’s on our way home from somewhere. The baby was sleeping soundly in her carseat and had just fallen asleep within the last ten minutes. We decided on Chili’s because we could just get drinks and apps if necessary and still feel as if we had a decent dinner. We got her into the restaurant and placed her carseat gently into the booth without issue. We ordered and began to relax. Then…she woke up. Long story short, I had three sips of my heavenly mixed drink (I had JUST stopped nursing and was so excited to have a drink) and we had our food packaged to go. We had to pitch our voices over the ungodly screams coming from our precious daughter’s lungs to get the check and finally get out of there. We were mortified, defeated, and drove home in silence (because she had of course fallen back to sleep in the car) both contemplating the end to life as we knew it.
2. That time my entire family had the stomach virus. One winter my oldest daughter (who was about 18 months old) started vomiting. I’ve been through several stages of parenting and the worst time to have a child vomit is when she’s a toddler. They always cry, vomit right where they may be standing, and get it all over every piece of clothing and strand of hair they may have, every time they vomit. By day two of this flu my husband had begun to vomit as well. This of course sent him straight to bed moaning that he was going to die. I, of course, kept managing our little one, desperately trying to keep her fever down as well as any fluids. On day three I began to vomit. I was violently ill AND I had a very sick toddler. She would vomit, I would vomit right along with her and then I would clean it all up. By day four I decided that the baby needed to be seen by a doctor. Of course it was Sunday and I was told to get her to the Yale Children’s ER. My husband was functional by this point and he drove us. My poor little baby was so hot with fever and so limp from dehydration I barely acknowledged my own sickness at this point. They took one look at her and pulled her into triage to give her an IV and get the fluids going. After what seemed like hours our pediatrician found us. After checking on my improving baby she took a hard look at me. “Have you talked to your OB this week?” Um, no. Why?. “Well, you’re pregnant, have a fever, and I doubt you’ve eaten or drank much of anything for a few days.” Oh yeah, I thought. I’m pregnant. I truly and honestly had forgotten.
3. That time I fell down the stairs pregnant. My third baby was a scheduled c-section. During the couple of days leading up to my scheduled date, I threw a birthday party for my middle daughter and then ran around taking care of every little detail I could think of since I was about to leave my two older children with my husband for several days. Hugely pregnant, I washed countless loads of laundry, stripped and changed beds, vacuumed and dusted the house, cooked, and wrote out lists and instructions. Around 10 pm the night before going to the hospital I found myself lugging the last load of laundry down my basement stairs. My husband called for me stopping me in my tracks. I answered his question and then, forgetting I was on the stairs, took a step. I remember this next moment in slow motion. I screamed, I threw the laundry basket desperately trying to grab on to the handrail, and I fell…hard…on my butt. My husband found me sitting in a puddle on the basement floor crying, covered in dirty laundry, convinced that I was about to birth the baby right there on that filthy floor. That puddle I was sitting in? Amniotic fluid? Nope. Pee. I had no contractions or sign of labor despite this horrific fall. I couldn’t believe it. I stayed up all night waiting for the contractions to come ruining my last night of potential sleep before bringing home a newborn. During my hospital stay the nurses kept asking me about my level of pain from the incision. My incision felt fine but I kept complaining about my sore tail bone and bruised elbow–completely forgetting about my tumble down the stairs.
4. That time we got “The Lice”. I could write an entire post about lice. Yes it is as awful as you can imagine. Yep, I never thought it could happen to me. After several WEEKS of constant laundry, combing, and crying I finally admitted defeat to the little jerks and dragged us all into one of those places that looks like a hair salon but is actually filled with lovely people picking dozens and dozens of bugs and eggs out of children’s hair at the cost of hundreds of dollars. It’s worth every cent. Take away? Hugs spread bugs (and little girls LOVE to hug each other). Also, keep your kids a little dirty because lice LOVE clean hair. It’s been several years and I still don’t have the emotional strength to rehash any more of this particular saga. Maybe someday…once the involuntary shivers at the sight of anything brown on my kids’ scalps stop.
5. That time my daughter threw up Chicken McNuggets in the car thirty minutes into a five hour drive. Sorry but this one is another story filled with vomit. A few years ago my family decided to head to Washington, DC for a long weekend. We decided to take this trip rather last minute so we did not take the Friday before off from work. After my husband got home from work we packed the car, put the kids in pajamas, took them to McDonald’s for a treat, and got on the road. I-95 was ugly according to Google Maps so we headed up to the parkway. It quickly got dark as the kids happily munched on their delicious horrible food. Then we hit Greenwich. For those of you not familiar with the Merritt Parkway in Greenwich the road winds around extreme curves. The speed limit even drops to 50 MPH because of these sharp bends in the road. Now imagine my children in the back of my car, in the pitch dark (no lights on the parkway) as the car rocks back and forth on these curves. Disaster. My youngest daughter quietly said, “Mommy…I don’t feel well” before enacting a scene from the exorcist all over herself, her special blanket, her beloved Elmo doll, her carseat, and the floor around her carseat. My husband (being a quick thinker) took the closest next exit which happened to be the Greenwich rest area. I then spent the next twenty minutes cleaning up my kid, her items, and her entire side of the car with the very few napkins we happened to find in the glove compartment because this rest area was “green” and there was not one freaking paper towel or napkin in the entire place. Not one. I ended up washing Elmo off in the sink and then dried him under the hand dryer. I did the same with my daughter’s clothes since the back of the car was packed so tightly I would have had to remove everything to get into the suitcase with her spare clothes in it. I dumped her back into her carseat and we got back on the road. Oh…the smell. With every mile we traveled that night the smell of the vomit seemed to get stronger. Since it was February, opening the windows for any length of time froze us solid. My older kids gagged and whined. The baby slept soundly. We FINALLY arrived at our hotel around midnight and neither my husband nor I wanted to even THINK about dealing with the residual vomit in the car. We closed up the car and went to bed. I’ll let you imagine what we faced (and smelled) in our car come morning. Our first stop on our lovely weekend away was a local grocery store to purchase Lysol wipes and air freshener. I also had to hunt down the hotel’s laundry room to deal with her vomit encrusted coat.
So there you have it. Parenting is messy, exhausting, and filled with unexpected drama and mishaps. I’ve realized that finding a way to laugh through some of it (or at least after the crisis has past) is the best way to manage. In the end I think I’m stronger for it (at least my stomach is) and they’re most definitely worth it.