In my imaginary life with kids, I was always dressed in cute, stylish outfits. We were always on time, and my pretend children were always clean, smiling, and extremely charming. Everything was peaceful and every mundane chore I did was a fun learning experience for my perfect (made up) kids. Then I had a baby and the shiny, perfect, imaginary picture of motherhood I imagined started to crack. Then he turned into a toddler and the cracks got bigger. THEN I had another baby and the picture shattered completely.
Let me use what happened this morning to paint you a little picture.
Both of my kids have been battling stuffy, runny noses for the past few days. Around 4ish am baby Kate woke herself up with her snuffling and sniffling. I set her on the bed in front of me to change her diaper before nursing her. Mid-diaper change, a little bit of baby poop got onto the bed. Eyes only half open, I blotted it away with a wipe and then threw a burp cloth over it. I finished changing her diaper while holding her pacifier in with my leg. She kept spitting it out to cry and I was terrified she was going to wake her older brother up. So after all that, I nursed her and got her back to sleep for another hour and a half.
Around 7:30ish Kate was awake and fussing. The first thing I noticed was that I must have gotten breast milk on her face at some point in the night and it was now crusted all over her forehead. Cute. The next thing I noticed was that her nose sounded super stuffy again. I tried to nurse her, but she kept pulling off and crying because of how stuffed up she was. So I got out the old booger sucker and went to town. Once I had finished
torturing her clearing out her nose, she settled down and was content to sit propped up on her boppy pillow. So I went to get Sam from his room where he was being strangely quiet.
I opened his door with a cheery, "Good morning bubba!" like always, and he just stared at me. That's when I noticed the small pile of vomit on his bed. Lovely. He just kept looking at it, and then back at me. Luckily, it didn't really seem to be on HIM, just on the bed. So we went back to my room.I felt like he had probably gotten sick after gagging on snot since he had been super stuffy. Again, lovely. He wanted to nurse (yes, at 28 months old, he is still nursing at least once a day and we are very happy with this arrangement... different post for a different time) so I settled into bed with him to nurse. He nursed for a while and then just wanted to lay down next to his sister which is NOT like him. Meanwhile, she was making another nice mess in her diaper. Woohoo! So I got that cleaned up and took both kids to their bathroom down the hall. I put Kate in her bouncy seat and filled up the tub for Sam. We usually do baths before bed, but he kinda stank :/ As I was settling her into her seat I heard him start to whimper behind me. Uh oh. Yup. You guessed it. He was throwing up breast milk all over the bathroom. He just kept backing up trying to get away from it, so he managed to cover quite a lot of space. When he was finished he was acting fine, so I deposited him into the tub, got him clean, and let him play for a little while.
Once Sam was bathed, and Kate had
been tortured had her nose suctioned once more we went downstairs. Sam on the couch watching Bob the Builder, Kate down for her first nap of the day in her pack n play. I started to tackle the laundry trail the morning had left. Meanwhile, Sam starts screaming at me, "I WANT MILK AND CHEESE TOAST!" Ummm, no. Sorry. Bad choices kid. I gave him some dry toast which, thankfully, stayed put after he ate it.
The laundry took me several hours. Every time I thought I had gotten it all, I found a stuffed animal or a blanky that had gotten in the path of the storm. In between the mountains of laundry Sam continued to scream for cheese (why Sam, why?!) and I had to clear out Kate's nose again.
Finally, the laundry was finished and all traces of vomit were gone. I was EXHAUSTED and Sam seemed to be a new man. When I came out of the laundry room for the last time I found him bouncing up and down on a balloon he had found and laughing hysterically. When he saw me he said, "Mama! LUUUUUUUNCH!". I almost said no because I figured it was probably like 9:30 or 10 in the morning. Then I looked at the clock and realized it was after 12. I gave him some crackers and apple slices and BEGGED him (unsuccessfully) to eat slllllowly. I should mention that at this point both my hair and my teeth were un-brushed and the shorts I had pulled on in between cleaning up bodily fluids that morning had several holes in them.
Mercifully, at this point BOTH of my (gross) children went to sleep and I was able to catch 20 minutes of sleep myself.
Somehow, in a very strange way, the reality of this morning is SO much better than the shiny pretend life I imagined back then. I'd much rather my crazy haired, grubby faced little boy. Who, from the back seat of the car the other day asked, "Hey! Sarah! You drivin?" and who sometimes blames his gas on his father by saying (loudly), "Excuuuuuuse YOU Daddy!" and then running away. His kisses are much sweeter, and his hugs much fiercer than any perfect haired, perfectly behaved little clone I ever made up back then. That pretend boy was pretty boring, and not nearly as funny ;) I'd much rather a baby girl who might poo all over the place or projectile spit up an entire feeding of milk all over my pajamas at 4 in the morning, but follows it up with a huge gummy smile and a sweet coo. That makes for a much more interesting and full life than the peacefully sleeping baby in designer rompers I pictured in my head all those years ago.
Motherhood is not pretty. You might go way too many days without washing your hair (guilty). You might be lucky sometimes to just have on clothes that aren't pajamas, forget about a cute, stylish outfit. Your kids aren't always going to behave and you're going to clean up more disgusting messes before 8am than you previously thought possible. But motherhood is a gift. A messy, gross, exhausting gift. And as long as you can remember THAT as you wipe up pee for the 2348758th time that day, you'll be okay. In need of a shower, and possibly a glass of wine, but okay.