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Worst parenting moment ever

Ella's first birthday, which reminded me of another day...

Parenting is truly the best of times and the worst of times.  Often the parenting pendulum can swing quickly from Kodak moments to moments fraught with disastrous consequences multiple times within a twelve hour period.  If I was to graph my own emotions throughout the course of one such day, particularly when my children were wee, it would look like a roller coaster ride fit for a thrill seeker.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Neither is it for those who are squeamish, particularly with regards to bodily fluids.  In fact, if you have a particular problem with feces, you may not want to read on.  Consider yourself forewarned.

Like all of you other parents out there without a personal assistant in toe (commonly known as a nanny), I have been peed on, pooped on, and vomited on by my tiny protege.  Once on an airplane, my eighteen month old threw up all over me during takeoff, causing us both to sit in this canned-mandarin-orange-and-milk imbued mixture for at least twenty minutes until the seat belt light had gone off and I could break for the washroom.  Ha – in retrospect, that was nothing.

Ill timed tantrums, moments spent wedged into disgusting public toilets with a baby you can’t put down, beautiful clothes ruined from creative moments with permanent markers, chocolate-smeared faces way too early in the morning, who can’t pull a few of these out of their parenting bag?  My youngest child’s preschool teacher once asked me if our family was underwear-adverse; my child had insisted on dressing herself (in dresses), and I hadn’t thought to check.  All feathers in our cap we can pull out to entertain people with at dinner parties.   After eleven years of parenting I feel like a bloody peacock.

But there is one moment that stands out that is much too vile for dinner party lore.

My youngest daughter, besides being cute as a button, was a gifted napper.  After spending half the day cajoling my first child into her nap, I perfected my nap time routine with subsequent children into a process whereby I would announce in a sing songy voice “naptime!”, change their diaper amid hushed tones and drop them in their crib, equipped with soothers and blankets and leave the room.  Miraculously this worked like a charm, freeing me for an hour or on lucky days, two, to perform my multitude of soul destroying chores, or to watch Oprah.

Other more typical playgrounds, cleaner times...

On one such day, a day where chores were required, although I gazed longingly at the television wishing it were an Oprah day, I dropped my youngest angel in her crib for her nap with a t-shirt and a diaper.  She happily gurgled and cooed and rolled around as I darted out of the room, like usual.  Did I mention she was cute? I rushed around, trying to squeeze every ounce of worth out of these moments.  Passing by her door occasionally, I heard her thrashing around and continuing to speak her intelligent baby talk.  I smugly congratulated myself for instigating this foolproof routine that I benefited from every day.  I was born to be a mother.

Half an hour later I still heard her happy noises, and was very surprised since she was normally sawing logs within five minutes.  She was babbling away, obviously amusing herself with the few safe toys that were in her crib.  Third children, I said to myself, so independent, so easy.  She will be super tired and surely have a long nap, I reasoned, I’m going to accomplish so much, and continued to the laundry room, within hearing range in case she started to protest her exile.

A load of laundry later, and she was still babbling.  Now my curiosity was peaked; I wanted to see what could possibly be amusing my adorable cherub for so long.  I cracked open the door, and both the odor and sight of mass destruction that greeted me was something I will never forget, long though I may try.

Freed from her typical onesie, she had pooped in her diaper, took it off, and played with its contents, which were obviously quite spreadable.  Poop was everywhere, all over her face, body, and soother, all over her flannel sheets, all over and in every crevice of her crib, and all over the wall beside it.  She had spared no available surface.  In fact, the only thing it didn’t hit was the fan.

Hyperventilating, I ran to open the window, and searched my mind for the best method of dealing with this.  She was surprised to see me in such a state, her soiled soother popped out of her mouth and her head cocked to the side.  I flapped around like a bird who couldn’t fly, running around the room wailing, wanting to pick her up and remove the brown stuff that was on my sweet babe’s eyelashes and in her ears, but knowing this would in turn me brown in the process.  I needed a plan, and I needed it fast.

The situation needed a considerable amount of damage control, if I didn’t deploy my plan carefully it could have long lasting implications on my carpet.  I ran to start a bath for her, then stripped down myself before gingerly picking her up from the wreckage, arms held akimbo, using my sing songy voice to now tell her it was time for a bath.  She seemed content with this new, cleaner, playground in the tub, so I dashed around, amassing every cleaning tool known to our household, and furiously scrubbed her crib and wall back to its former pristine self.  That done, the smell subsided and I overloaded our washer with every salvageable scrap of material used at the crime scene. Then I scrubbed her down from head to toe, emptying and refilling the bathtub three times in the process, choking back the bile in my throat – I had seen enough fluids that day.

Finally clean, we went to pick up my older children from school.  While waiting for the school bell, a parent idly asked me “How was your day?”  Not knowing where to begin, and especially not wanting to revisit the massacre again, even with words, I decided this one was for the vault, and replied, “uh, fine…how was yours?”.

Surely, I am not alone.  What are your worst parenting moments?

  1. December 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Hey Deanna,
    I can relate to this story..though my kids are more or less out of this stage…. Anyhow, you poor thing! Hang in there – you know they get away with all this, because they’re so damn cute and we love them so much 🙂 Great stories to tell them when they’re older too! It was the best of times…it was the worst of times…this saying just comes to mind!
    By the way, thanks for commenting on my freshly pressed post the other week. I appeciated it! Drop back again, if you get the chance.
    Oh and Happy Christmas, too!
    All the best,

    • December 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm
        Thankfully, this happened five years ago: diapers now a thing of my past. I don’t miss them!
  2. lucieloves
    December 18, 2010 at 6:28 am

    OMG that is truly gross. Definitely a story to bring out at E’s wedding!

    • December 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm

      Maybe after dinner.

  3. Laurie
    December 23, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Been there, done that. 30 years later, the memory is still very vivid.

    • December 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      Thankfully, diapering is far behind me, but this moment seriously scarred me for life.

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