It was one of those insane moments. Trying to manage the napping schedules of an infant and a toddler can be a little complicated but usually skews in the direction of neglect toward the toddler or at least that is the case in my home. I’ll get to the rug story in a little bit but first this…
No matter what our day’s activities have been, we try to get home by noon. Once I haul the bags and kids upstairs into the main living area, I do a diaper change on the little one, allow the older one to play by himself if I am still hauling bags and putting away things that need immediate attention, and then get busy making lunch. Meanwhile, the infant has realized that she is not moving – she is not in a car or a swing or mama’s warm bosom as she walks so she slowly starts whining and sniffing and snorting and in general, letting her displeasure be known before she breaks into full blown cries (seeing tears in the eyes of your baby is possibly one of the worst adult/parent experiences ever)
The older one, meanwhile, habituated to a routine where I keep him quiet by recruiting technology for babysitting, starts to go “dump dump choo choo dump dump choo choo” – his words for YouTube videos of dump trucks, garbage trucks, monster trucks, Thomas the Train episodes, Blippi demo videos and so on. What am I doing during this time? Take today for example.
I had a trunk full of stuff from Costco including a gigantic watermelon (I had completely smashed the last one in two in trying to get it out of the trunk). Anyway, so today I couldn’t park in the garage upon returning home because there were some construction workers fixing the wall next to it. Hmm…so now I had to park my car in the hot sun, pick up a car seat, and hold a toddler’s hand while trying to grab a bag of stuff that needed immediate refrigeration, and cross the street to get home. That done, diaper changed and Baby E laid on her swing for a few minutes while TJ played patiently with his tow truck toy, I quickly started putting things away in the freezer. Meanwhile, Baby E had started bawling (despite the swinging) so I nursed her while TJ played around (he is really good about taking my nursing E in his stride. He usually just hangs around patiently doing his own thing. Sometimes he’ll bring me books and I have him sit on the La-z-boy extension with me and E and I read to him while breastfeeding. Works well for all three of us since the extension rises all the way to where it is almost flat with the seat)
Then, I laid E back in her swing, went to get lunch ready, placed TJ in his “happy chair” or high chair, got him strapped in with tray and all and started YouTube on Chromecast just as the microwave beeped. Got the meal ready, brought out our lunch. Baby E, unhappy at being left out of this fun lunch session starts crying so I pick her up, lay her on my lap on a pillow for support and start eating – stuffing my face while feeding TJ because I knew E wouldn’t last much longer (so I might as well eat quickly when I have the time and she is quiet).
There are two mothering moments that Aaron considers my “supermom” moments: One is when I do what I described above. When both kids need/want me: I sit on the La-z-boy with Baby E at my breast and TJ by my knees. One eating, the other being read to. I have even held his milk bottle to feed him milk while sitting like this.
The second supermom moment is when there is a triple eating session happening at the same time. I sit at the dinning table with my Boppy with Baby E on it, breastfeeding; while I spoon feed TJ sitting in his happy chair next to me; while eating my own food. This simultaneous feeding of the self and kids happens a lot around here but these days Aaron has taken over feeding TJ (there are certain meals that he is better being fed than allowed to do on his own) and because she is getting older and doesn’t need to feed as often, Baby E is often on her chair watching all of us eat on most days.
Anyway, back to today, in the midst of feeding myself and TJ, as Baby E’s sniffles got louder (for sleep, this time), I picked her up and told TJ to finish his lunch (as he only partially listened, ears and eyes glued to the TV) as I went upstairs. I put the YouTube videos on autoplay so they play off a playlist I made for him.
When I came back down after Baby E fell asleep, TJ still hadn’t finished his lunch so I fed him what was left of it while still putting away things from Costco and keeping an eye on his videos. He always throws a tantrum when it is time to turn the TV off. Every. Single. Time. So I usually redirect his attention to milk (yes, that only sometimes works) that he will get to drink as soon as I turn the TV off or even small bites of a brownie on occasion. Today, parched with thirst and eager to try the new POM drink I purchased at Costco, I poured myself a little of the drink and mixed some Orange Juice in it, also freshly bought. Pleased with my concoction, I placed it on the coffee table, just as the last video he was watching flashed a big “THE END”. “Oh perfect,” I said. “Look, honey, it says, ‘The End’. Time to stop now,” I said cheerfully and turned the TV off.
TJ flew into his normal outburst (when this happens he throws everything near or in front of him on the floor) and unintentionally (I say this because he hadn’t even processed that the glass was there, it could have been anything and it would have been on the rug) knocked my antioxidant-filled juice on my beautiful rug. To be fair, I shouldn’t have placed the glass there knowing what happens after I turn the TV off. I was in such a frantic frenzy, I literally yelled out loud, “SHIT. SHIT. SHIT…I don’t know what to do. Shit Shit Shit…I don’t know what to do” running around like an headless chicken until I darted to the fridge and grabbed a can of club soda and my small bowl of salt. Before I did that though, in my urgency to get TJ out of the mess and being upset at him, I pulled him away from the juice falling off the coffee table making little blood like stains on my gorgeous rug and shoved him on the regular carpet. He laid down on that other carpet watching my craziness unfold.
I poured club soda all over the affected part, drenched it with salt and scrubbed till I thought the stains were starting to came off. Once I thought I had a handle over the situation, exhausted, I sat back down and looked over at my son. He was lying on the rug, on his tummy, head to one side, watching the stained carpet. Quiet. He just lay there and I just sat there. In silence.
Within seconds, it was as though the red color from the juice was vanishing from the rug only to re-emerge on my face. Looking at my child laying there, I was filled with shame, guilt, and an awareness of a major motherhood fail. There are just SO MANY ways I could have handled that situation. Yet, I went with instinct. The thing with being a mother and all this ‘trust your instinct’ crap is that your instinct is a part of who you are. If you are a perfect person, your instincts will be perfect too. I, on the other hand, am deeply flawed SO my instincts, accordingly, will also be flawed.
I reacted like a human being, not a mother. I even said ‘SHIT’ when I should clearly have watched what I said, especially now that TJ is picking up new words every single day. I did exactly what my instinct told me to do or how I would have normally reacted. Being a mother, I have to learn to NOT trust my instincts (or what comes naturally) when managing kids, especially when those instincts could potentially hurt my kids. Was the rug really that much more important than TJ? So what if it had stained? Would the emotional stain I could potentially have caused TJ make a beautiful rug worth it? To my credit, I have never reacted this way during the numerous times TJ has directly or indirectly broken bowls and mugs in the kitchen which could possibly be because there is no danger of a stain there. A rug on the other hand, was an entirely different story.
I felt really, really bad and asked TJ to come sit on my lap and he did. Later I looked him in his eye and explained to him why I did what I did and that I was wrong to push him. I said I was sorry and asked if he forgave me. He nodded and later gave me a kiss as I carried him upstairs for his nap. As I type this, I am watching to video monitor staring at my beautiful child peacefully asleep in his bed. I love him so much that no rug, however expensive, will ever come even close to it…I guess I don’t love my rug as much as I love my kid.
Update: The stain is completely gone. The rug is as good as new.