I had dinner with some friends Tuesday night, and over the course of drinks and oohing over a perfect one-week-old baby came a self-deprecating anecdote by me about life with three kids. I was telling my friends about how the worst offense Jax and Em can do at this point is to wake the baby during her afternoon nap. That time of day is sacred to me, and I save their TV time so that it can coincide with naptime, thus providing me with a decent window in the afternoon to eat lunch, put away laundry, answer emails, edit photos, etc. I had my friends laughing, imitating myself getting worked up over Jax yelling upstairs to me that he wanted a drink during this sacred quiet time. My friend Devin reminded me that there are people out there who would enjoy hearing that side of motherhood, in addition to the rose-colored version I usually share. I usually let my photos drive my blog posts, and I don’t normally have photo-less posts, or photos of my kids during their meltdowns. Would people just want to read my words, with no cute photo for illustration? According to my friends, yes they would, so in the interest of full disclosure and airing my parental dirty laundry, I will share a snippet of my day on Wednesday, which nearly drove me to drink. It all started when I picked Jax up at preschool.
The first thing I noticed when he walked toward me was the unmistakable smell of poop. I wasn’t sure it was him, since I was surrounded by preschoolers and their younger siblings, but I was certain minutes later when I (luckily) grabbed his hand to wash it before giving him a snack. Without question, there was poop on his hands, and the only questions that remained now were a) how long had it been there and b) was it definitely his own? It was his, he was proud to share; he had gone poop at school and wiped his own butt. Awesome, since he obviously did such a bang-up job of it. Then I asked him when he had gone to the bathroom, right before recess when I picked him up? No, before that, during the day, meaning he had at this point been smearing feces God knows where for God knows how long. I said, “Jax, why didn’t you ask for help? Why didn’t you wash your hands? Why didn’t you wipe better?” to which he replied, “Don’t worry, Mom. I did wipe my hands. On the slide.” Wait, what?
At this point, we were already in the car driving to the library. I have known the pain of being the parent whose kid is playing in another kid’s bodily fluids, so I couldn’t just pretend it hadn’t happened no matter how much I wanted to. Part of me wanted to turn around, go back to the school and disinfect the playground equipment myself. Instead, I steeled myself against the mortification of having to call the school and proclaim my kid The Poop Smearing Kid, and informed the school secretary that she should probably send the janitor out to give the slides a once over and inform the teacher to bust out some bleach. The secretary actually laughed and I know my son was a topic of hilarity over lunch. Luckily, I did not name names.
We arrived at the library and all three kids and I crammed into the bathroom so I could scour Jax’s fingers and every possibly poopy square inch of his body. We then spent a lovely hour making new friends, picking out books, playing with the baby, when Daylight Savings Sleep Deprivation struck. Jax has been getting up around 5:00 a.m. all week, and suddenly three full days of preschool combined with the Mother of the Year snack of Dunkin Donuts munchkins I had given him in the car was too much for him to handle. He effing lost his mind.
Em was doing a puzzle under one of the tables (yes, I said under), Baby H was starting to get fussy for her nap. Jax came over to me and started whining that he was hungry. I told him that I had lunch for them, but I had forgotten it in the car. I said, But the baby needs her nap anyway so let’s just head out to the car and get it and then we’ll head home. Apparently Jax did not want to go quite yet. You would have thought I suggested that Spiderman is not actually a superhero or that he should finally get rid of his Blankie after five years. He screamed. He cried. And then he came over and started beating me with his little angry fists and yelled, “I’m going to keep hitting you until you go get my lunch so we can eat HERE!”
In a perfect world I would have been alone with him so I could have dramatically dropped everything we were doing, picked him up and hauled his ass out of the library. Instead I had to do a much less dramatic (and probably much less effective) song and dance called Beg Em To Please Stop Doing Her Puzzle And Come Out From Under The Table Even Though She Hadn’t Done Anything Wrong which resulted in two screaming preschoolers, followed closely by the always popular encore, Shove A Fussy Baby Into A Carseat She Doesn’t Want To Be In While Balancing A Library Bag Full Of Books, A Diaper Bag, Dragging Two Screaming Preschoolers And Their Jackets Out Into Traffic. I have never been so embarrassed or so useless. There was nothing I could really do and the only saving grace was that he really was so tired that although he screamed the entire way to the car, he did indeed follow me and then zone out for the entire ride home while I plotted ways to punish him that somehow involved me taking a nap. Yeah, not happening.
An hour later found me doing the same thing as most afternoons: putting away laundry while the kids watch TV, the baby asleep upstairs and the dog whining like mad for me to throw him a Frisbee. Jax came home and went straight to his bed where he laid down for a half hour while I got the baby down for a nap. Em got to watch Sophia The First without her brother complaining he’d rather watch Wild Kratts. I somehow controlled my need for a cocktail and survived by pilfering the remains of the kids’ Halloween candy, and by the time my kids had relaxed enough to be friendly again, I was ready to rejoin the human race. But for a while there, the chaos that is life with there very young children overwhelmed me and I nearly just dropped them all of on the doorstep of my husband’s office with a note saying I was on my way to Canada. Or maybe just in the back of the mini van taking a nap. With a bottle of wine tucked under my arm for safe keeping.