Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Privacy Goeth Before the Fall

I have finally given up on the idea of ever again being able to pee by myself.  Luxuries like privacy while pooping are for people who have neither children nor animals.  I don’t even bother closing the door anymore.  Seriously, what’s the point?

My daughter, Iris, regards the entire house as her domain and anything that happens in it is her business.  Even in the bathroom. 

“Moooooom? What are you dooooing?” she hollers as she runs down the hall towards where I am sitting, indisposed and vulnerable.

“What do you think I’m doing?” I respond.  For the record, sarcasm is completely lost on a three-year-old. 

Iris strides in, unabashed, and stands in front of me, her hands on her hips, “Are you peeing or are you pooping?”

What I want to do at this point is bang my head against the nearest wall.  But, as I am currently taking care of business and cannot reach the nearest wall with my head, the best I can do is cover my face with my hands and start laughing, a little hysterically.

“Mommy? Why are you laughing?” Iris starts laughing, too.  “Is this funny?”

“No, sweetie,” I answer, still laughing, “It isn’t funny at all.”

It’s even better when she wants give me a hug while I am on the toilet. 

Or, when she turns around, hides her eyes like she has seen the head ripped off her favorite My Little Pony toy and screeches, “I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT!  I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOUR PEE!”  (For the record, the proper response to this last one is to say, “Well, good, I don’t want you looking.”  This will have no effect.)

So, I thought I had finally let go of the last shred of my former, privacy-guarding, non-mom identity on the day I had to jump up off the commode and scuttle down the hall with my pants still around my ankles because our puppy, Penny, had grabbed Iris’s most beloved Pink Bunny stuffed toy.  I had to waddle-chase Penny around the family room, trying not to trip over my pants, but unable to get them off because I was in motion, while Iris wailed like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse had just knocked on our front door and asked for a cup of brimstone.  This was followed by 30 minutes of sitting on the floor comforting a snotty, crying child who was heartbroken because, basically, her stuffed toy had been slobbered on a little.  And then I finally pulled up my pants.

But no.  No.  Even at that all-time-low, I hadn’t truly given up my affection for solitude.

Because, I still had the shower.

The delightful shower.  The magnificent stall where hot water could cascade over me like my own, private waterfall.  My own, private, quiet, kid-free zone of awesomeness.  Sure, sometimes I only had six minutes and I had to wash just those parts of me that were likely to smell, never mind being able to treat myself to extravagances like shaving my legs or washing my hair, but they were MY six minutes all by myself without an audience and I relished them.  I relished them like a person whose been shipwrecked on a tropical, deserted island must relish air conditioning and human company.

And then I went and ruined it. 

Oh yeah, it was me who ruined it.  I really have no one to blame but myself.  See, there was this one day when Iris and I were both just scuddy, covered in sunblock and bug spray and sweat and sand from playing in the sandbox in the backyard.  And I had to get myself clean.  And I had to give Iris a bath.  And, when I looked at the clock, I realized that I could either give Iris a bath or give me a shower, but not both.  So – brilliant solution! – I decided to let Iris get in the shower with me.

In the past, Iris has hated the shower.  There have been times when we were on vacation and didn’t have access to a bathtub, and washing Iris in the shower resulted in tears and recriminations from a very, very unhappy three year old.  That day I decided I could just power through the unpleasantness if it meant that we could both get clean.  I geared myself up; I loaded for bear; and…..

Iris loved it.

Like loved it loved it. 

Like a-dog-discovering-the-joy-of-rolling-in-goose-poop loved it

Like she wanted to stay in the shower and play in the water after we were done.

Like she wouldn’t get out before I had dried off, gotten dressed, and dried my hair,  And, even then, I had to beg.

Now, every time I say I need to get cleaned up, this is what happens:

“Mommy!  Can I get in the shower with you?!!?!?!??!??!????” and Iris jumps up with a big grin on her face and starts running for my bathroom before I even answer.  “I’m getting a fresh, clean towel for meeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

It has now been two and a half weeks since I’ve been in any part of my bathroom alone.  Which, all by itself, would be bad enough.  But, what makes it worse is that, well, three-year-olds don’t have much of a filter between what they think and what they say. 

Yesterday, while I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair (the upside to having company in the shower is getting to do things like, you know, washing my hair), I felt a small finger poking into the admittedly ample flesh of my butt cheek.  Startled, I turned around, hastily, “Iris!  What are you doing?!?”

She looked up at me, thoughtful, “You sure do have a big butt, Mommy.”

“Ummmm…” caught off-guard, I struggled to find actual words with which to respond.

Still deep in thought, Iris continued, “My butt is little.  Your butt is very, VERY big.”   

“Well,” I fought to swallow my mortally wounded pride, “when you grow up big like me, your butt will be bigger, too.”

Iris wrinkled her nose, “No, Mommy.  My butt will never be as big as yours.”

Oh, well.  I probably didn't need all that self-esteem, anyway.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Moms Don't Get Sick Days

Do you want to know the difference between being sick before you're a parent and being sick after you're a parent?


Either way, you’re sick.

Only, after you become a parent, even if you're projectile vomiting like the girl from The Exorcist, or having diarrhea like your bowel wants to impress Old Faithful, you still have to take care of the child.

Have a bad cold?  Are your sinuses so congested you think they may explode out the front of your face?  Coughing so hard you're pretty sure your lungs are coming up next?  Too bad.  You still have to take care of the child.


What's that you say?

You say your spouse will take care of the child while you're ill?


You don’t get it?  Think about it.  I’ll give you a minute.

Still don’t get it?

Okay.  I can’t believe I have to explain this. 

If you're sick, your spouse will also get sick.  Then both of you are vomiting, coughing, moaning, congested, feeling like you’ve been run over by an eighteen wheeler carrying a load of hogs, and.........you still have to take care of the child.

Don't believe me?

Let me tell you a little story....

When my daughter, Iris, was fifteen or sixteen months old, she got the stomach flu.  I would tell you how pitiful it is when a toddler is vomiting, but that's not the point of this story (seriously, it was SO pitiful...the poor thing didn't understand what was happening and didn’t realize that she needed to put your face down to throw up or you’ll choke, and there was a lot of crying while we tried to teach her proper vomiting form and....*blink* wait...yeah....not the point. I'll stop.)

The point is that Iris got better.

And then I got worse.  A lot worse.  I woke up at three in the morning feeling nauseated and spent much of the next three hours in the bathroom.  Have you ever felt so awful you just wanted to lie on the cool tile of the bathroom floor and not move for the next forever?  Yeah?  Me, too!
Except Iris had a bad dream and woke up crying.  Guess who had to get up off the bathroom floor and soothe her back to sleep? 

Thankfully, my husband, Quinten, stayed home from work that day so he could take care of me and Iris.  Before she woke up in the morning, he ran to the store and got all those things you need when you have the stomach flu: Gatorade, Jell-O, popsicles, saltines, Sprite, chicken noodle soup. Then when she got up, he dealt with all things Iris so I could take care of myself.

I slept between trips to the bathroom, took small sips of Sprite when I felt like I could, and sacked out on the couch in front of endless episodes of House Hunters and Property Brothers while Quinten kept Iris busy.

This lasted for exactly six and a half hours.

Then Quinten, who had been standing in the family room holding Iris and asking me if I needed more Sprite, suddenly and wordlessly put Iris on the floor and ran for the bathroom.

After which, I had to get up off the couch so he could lie down. Because, even if I was feeling like utter shit, someone still had to take care of Iris and I was elected due to the fact that I was the one who was the least sick.  By which I mean I was able to stand without reflexively throwing up.

I had to just suck it up and start taking care of Iris despite the fact that I was working at the same operating speed and capacity as your average zombie.  Quinten got to start moaning, watching bad reality television, and making unplanned and frequent trips to the by-then overused bathroom.

I was the one who had to fix Iris lunch, sit with her while she ate it, and encourage her to eat more when she got distracted (which was often because, at that age, she had the attention span of a mosquito), all while the mere sight of food made me feel nauseated. 

I was the one who had to coax a very tired Iris up the stairs to get her to go down for a nap.  Upping the degree of difficulty?  The fact that Iris was entirely unconvinced that she needed a nap.  Ever.

I was also the one who had to get Iris up and change her poopy diaper (ever try changing a stinking near-blowout while nauseated?  It is exactly as bad as you’re thinking it is).

This was followed by me running to the bathroom several times in the middle of a game of hide-and-go-peek (which is a combination of hide and seek and peek-a-boo that involved Iris throwing blankets over her head and yelling "FIND ME MOMMY!!!!" as loud as she could).   

Now, imagine that from Iris's perspective. I felt semi-okay when we started. Iris hid under the blanket, I pretended I couldn't see the mound of blanket in the middle of the floor, then Iris flings the blanket off her head and I point to her, acting surprised, saying "there she is!" in a voice that was as enthusiastic as I could manage while simultaneously feeling like I might hurl. Iris hid under the blanket again, and I realized just then that I needed to get to the toilet right that second. So, while Iris was still hiding, I had to get up and sprint for the bathroom. Just as I got there, Iris flung the blanket off her head and.....Mommy was GONE!  "Mama?" she whimpered. I could hear her from the bathroom. "Mama?!?" the whimpering became more frantic, “MAMA??!?!??"  And, I swear I meant to call out to her that I was in the bathroom, but I was a little otherwise engaged at the time. "MAAAAAAMMMMMMAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!" By the time I got back to the family room, Iris was in a full-blown, can't-catch-your-breath sobbing fit.

I picked her up and hugged her to me and rocked her and, just as she was starting to calm down, I had to put her down and get to the bathroom again.

It took me a good thirty minutes to calm her down.  After that, I just had to take her to the bathroom with me, but, hey....  And if you were wondering if it's possible to comfort a toddler while sitting on a toilet?  Why, yes.  Yes, it is.

And, somehow, while powering through all that, I managed to keep Quinten comfortable, figure out (ugh) dinner, feed Iris, give her a bath, and get her down for the night. And, instead of crawling into my nice, warm bed and surrendering to the oblivion I so desperately wanted? I went back downstairs and took care of Quinten some more.

Oh, wait…you think it was bad because Iris was so young?  You think it gets better when your child gets older???  Really?  Seriously? 

You're so funny. 

You see, right now, I am sick.  I have a summer cold that leaves me feeling a little like a dragonfly squished on the windshield of a racecar.  Yesterday, while Quinten had to take advantage of the fact that, for the first time in ten days, it was not raining and mow the lawn, I thought I’d put on a movie for Iris and kind of sack out on the couch.  Not perfect, but it would do, right?  I’d get some much-needed rest and Iris would be entertained, right? 


Iris only understands “Mommy doesn’t feel very well” for four minutes at a stretch.  The rest of yesterday, Iris used me as a jungle gym, slide, and trampoline.  In that order.  Then, I was required to color, do puzzles, play princess, and read stories.  Not to mention the two and a half minutes where Iris was actually playing by herself and I dozed off only to be awoken by a child’s face one inch from my nose while she yelled, “I NEED TO GO PPPPOOOOOTTTTTTTYYYYY!!” and I had to haul my scratchy-throated, stuffy-nosed, groggy self off the couch to accompany Iris to the potty (because no one should ever trust a three-year-old to wipe themselves adequately after pooping). 

And I haven’t even gotten to the part about walking the puppy, playing with the puppy, keeping Iris from loving on the puppy too hard, keeping the puppy from treating Iris like a chew toy, and fixing meals.  By the time Quinten came back inside, I had decided that the only solution was, by sheer force of will, to just not be sick anymore.  Because Moms don’t get sick days.

I’m not telling you any of this in order to make you feel sorry for me (although if you wanted to feel sorry for me, I wouldn’t tell you no), or to gross you out.  I’m telling you this is to warn you....if you want to get sick, do it before you have a child.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Unhelpful Things People Say to Mothers: Part One In What Will Probably Be an Infinite Series

There I was, at the pool with my three-year-old daughter, Iris.  Iris was in the middle of a kicking, shrieking, flailing, snotty-faced tantrum that would rival the head-twisting-pea-soup-spitting scenes in The Exorcist.  All over a snow cone. 

Or, more correctly, over a foul concoction of melted ice, bright red syrup in a flavor called Tutti Frutti, and the bugs that had died in an attempt to get a taste of it. 

Or, most correctly, over the fact that I had just made the executive decision to throw away the foul concoction rather than let Iris drink it.

This was preceded by a tense two and a half minutes of wrestling over the styrofoam cup that contained the foul concoction.  I tried to pry the cup from Iris’s hands while she tried to pull it away from me with a grasp that threatened to puncture the sides of the cup and screeched that it was HERS and she was going to DRINK IT before we left the pool and she WANTED IT and I was a BAD MOMMY!!!!    

While thunder boomed in the background, ending all fun at the pool for the day, and it began first to sprinkle and then to drizzle, I struggled to get Iris’s arms into her cover-up so I could put her in her car seat without getting it sopping wet. 

Me:  (hissing at Iris through gritted teeth and forcing one of her arms through a sleeve) Iris, we need to get your cover-up on!
Iris:  (yanking her arm repeatedly to try to get it out of the sleeve while screaming so hard snot flies out of her nose) I WANT MY ICE CONE!!!
Me:  (grabbing her other flailing arm to put in in the other sleeve)  Well, it’s gone already, what do you want me to do?
Iris:  (flapping her arm out of my hand) YOU DON’T THROW MY ICE CONE AWAY!!!!!!
Me:  (taking a deep breath and attempting to be as calm as possible) Iris, please let me put your cover-up on, honey.
Iris:  (sob)  DON’T EVER.  (heave)  THROW AWAY.  (sniffle-snort)  MY ICE CONE!!  (sob)  YOU THREW.  (howl)  MY.  (wail) ICE  CONE!!! 

I had already tried hugging and comforting her, letting her know that I understood why it was so sad that she couldn’t finish the snow cone.  Which didn't work.  I had also tried being stern and telling her that she needed to settle down or she would be put in time out and/or she wouldn’t get to come back to the pool.  Which worked less.  I had also already bribed her with an ice cream cone from McDonalds if she would just quiet down.  Which actually had the opposite effect, prompting Iris to scream at me, "I DON'T WANT ICE CREAM FROM MCDONALDS I WANT MY ICE CONE!!!!!"

Anyone who was watching could see that I was having, to put it mildly, a difficult time handling my child.  Actually, anyone within a two-mile radius could hear that I was having a difficult time handling my child. 

I was nearly in tears, myself.

Which is when a little old lady walked past us on the pool deck on her way out to the parking lot, wearing a little, clear, plastic rain hat to protect her beehive of steel-grey curls.  She paused and smiled down at where I was crouching and wrestling with the zipper on Iris’s cover-up as Iris continued to screech and writhe.  And do you know what that little old lady said?  She said, “Cherish this time.  It goes by so fast.”

I didn’t say anything.  I would say I was too stunned to say anything, but the truth is, I was actually too polite.  Because what I WANTED to say, what immediately popped into my head was, Lady…that right there is a good way to get punched in the boob.” 

Look, I know she meant well.  And it’s not like I’m unaware that, at some point in the future, when Iris is all grown up and I am gray and wrinkled and struggling to see over the steering wheel of my car, that I might look back at this time in my life with some sort of delusional nostalgia.  Perspective is, after all, everything.  But, while my daughter is having the tantrum to end all tantrums?  Maybe I’m just not in a cherishing mood.

And, if that little old lady really wants to know how fast the time goes, she needs to come to my house at 4:30 in the afternoon, when Iris and I have already played every game and colored every picture and been to a play date and watched as much television as I’m going to allow and walked the dog together and I have to work on fixing dinner and Iris decides that right then is a good time to practice her squealing runs across the family room or raid my purse and color her dress with my lipstick.  I will gladly hand Iris over to that little old lady and let her deal with it all. 
And then?  Then that little old lady can tell me all about how very very quickly all this cherished time is passing.