Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Parents of the year

Jason, hands down, wins husband/dad of the year award for taking care of Lucy while I was sick.  Granted he didn't really have a choice, the simple act of getting up to do anything would cause my fever to spike and I had to change pj's multiple times during the weekend simply to avoid the chills.  (Sweat through the pj's then get cold because of the wet items.)  But, he made it ok for me to sleep the illness off without any guilt that he was tired or needed a break, and for that I'm very grateful.

Here's a parenting secret that no one wants to say out loud - no matter how much you love your baby it is exhausting to be "on point" at all times.  Her needs come first, and you don't realize how much you need 10 minutes to collect your own thoughts until you don't have 10 minutes.

There is a fair amount of guilt when you have feelings of relief when the baby finally takes a nap and you can sit and 'veg' for a moment.  There is (internal) pressure to get the house spiffed up or take care of those things you can't do while the baby sleeps.  Sometimes this works.  Case in point, Sunday while Lucy napped Jason and I were able to put up the holiday lights on the front of the house.  When you're solo parenting, you need that nap time to rejuvenate yourself.  Sometimes it doesn't work, when I was sick, nap time was a much needed dad break.  Our house was a messy land of bottles, toys, half sorted mail, un-stowed groceries and other evidence of projects half completed.

I know that I have a good partner because he didn't complain about this weekend of solo parenting nor did he think it was a burden.  Parenting is something we knowingly signed on for and it is fantastic when there are two of us to make it easier, but both of us are aware there will be times it is a single parent activity.    Ages ago, I heard the husband of a friend say he was "babysitting" and my girlfriend flipped out a bit and had to remind him that he was not babysitting, but parenting.  Technically it is just a label, but for my friend the difference was the implication that his being "on point" was unusual.  It has been over 10 years and this man has showed himself to be an excellent father, so this verbal misstep wasn't a critical parenting fail.

Before the baby came, we did lots of reading and a common theme came up over and over. Parents are tired.   "I feel like I haven't slept in 15 years", "I haven't slept the whole night through since 3 months before the baby was born", "I'm asleep before my head hits the pillow."  I would confirm that indeed, I like these parents am tired, but it is not an overwhelming weariness that some of the girlfriends described.  I'm thankful for that, especially since I'm doing this parenting thing 10-15 years later than most of my peers.  I was worried that the 'tired factor' would be like a fog that would plague me every day.

Now for the reason that I get parent of the year.  Last night we had a bathtub / poop situation.  I thought the grossest thing I would have to deal with in relation to blow outs that escaped a diaper, or boogers.  Oh boogers are so very icky.  <gag>    Lucy is so happy in the tub, she loves to slap at the water and chew on the float toys. Bath time is a great way to spend 30 minutes with a tired girl at the end of her day.  I really do love it and while it oddly conflicts with my need to be doing multiple things at once, sitting on the floor by the tub is a treat.  Last night, well, not so much.

I went to get a towel (2 feet away from the tub) and came back and she was making the "intense" face.  I knew what was happening, but my options were slim.  I could freak out and grab the naked, wet and actively pooping child and put her on the floor, in the clean towel I just grabbed, hold her in mid air or I could let her finish and then take her out of the tub immediately.    I chose the last option - it seemed the least messy.  I did try to scoop up the toys (but ended up bleaching them all anyway) and wash cloths that were in the water.

Poor Lucy - once she was done she knew immediately that things were not right.  I mean, normally there is poop and it stays in the diaper until Mom or Dad make it go bye-bye.  It is very contained and she never has to see it.  She was unhappy with the situation and did not mind the quick extraction from the tub.  I got her cleaned up, a sponge bath after the bath, dressed and then took her down to dad (who was making me dinner).  Then I had to come back and clean it up.  I considered just moving to a new house, but the idea of packing up all those DVD's makes me nauseous.   When I was done, the tub was properly cleaned and the bleach smell as abated as of this morning.   The cleaning fairy comes Friday  and she may be cleaning the cleanest tub in town, but that's OK with me.

I used the "sanitize" mode on my fancy washer for the first time (towels, rugs, wash cloths, my shirt) and I feel safe in that the situation has been contained.  Lucy doesn't seem traumatized, which is nice.  I would prefer for her not to have poop hangups.  I'm a bit traumatized but I guess that is to be expected.

Logic says there will be something MORE disgusting in my future, but I'm thankful I can't imagine what it might be.

I feel confident that this month, Jason and I have earned our 'parents of the year' badges.  Someday, when Lucy is 15 or 16 I'll retell the poop in the tub story in front of some new friend or maybe even a boyfriend.  Oh, I can't wait.

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