There are many joys in parenting: seeing your child smile when he wakes up in the morning, watching him discover the toes at the end of his feet, feeling the strength of his grasp as he explores your hair. There are moments of triumph as he finally figures out how to use his arms to push his face up towards the toy dangled above his head. There are frustrations when he hasn’t eaten in 5 hours, has been acting hungry, is mouthing everything in sight and yet firmly rejects your attempts to feed him unless you are standing, swaying from side to side, and singing his favorite song of the day. But there was one day several weeks ago when I knew I must be a mom.
It must have been at least six weeks ago when Bob and I were home all day with my little boy. It all started well. (It also ended well, but I wasn’t sure it would all the time.) He woke up, ate and we had a little bit of playtime downstairs. Bobby was full of smiles and handed them out generously. It was the start of one of those calm, easy-going days. Then, as is inevitable when food goes in the system, he pooped. It wasn’t extraordinary, but it did help to kick start our day. We went upstairs, Bob changed him and I got him dressed and we started the natural parent shuffle of baby duty.
I showered and dressed while Bob watched Bobby. Then while Bob was in the shower, I sat down with Bobby to read my e-mail and my favorite blogs. Bobby was on my lap and stared at the computer screen then reached for the keyboard. I read out loud to him and shifted him back and forth between my legs, trying to keep him a little distracted. Then, as I heard my husband turn off the shower water, my son decided to poop again.
This, however, was extraordinary. I didn’t smell it or hear it; I felt it. There was a rumble and then a sudden warmth on my left leg where my sweet little boy was perched. I looked down and didn’t see anything, so I hopefully lifted him up. Then saw the trail of processed food and antibiotic flowing along my leg. He was quite content and less fussy than he had been, but I was a bit perturbed that my clean jeans, not to mention the feeling of clean skin, were gone for the day. I ran upstairs as gently as I could, not wanting to jar anymore fecal matter out of Bobby’s diaper, onesie, or pants (yes, it really managed to get through all that), or to shake any of it loose from my own jeans. I laid him on the changing pad and used a wipe to get as much of the goop off of his clothes and mine as I could.
I finished putting on the new diaper right as Bob walked in, smelling of soap and water. He took one look at the wreckage and went back downstairs to start laundry. I got the newly clothed and baby-wipe fragranced Bobby dressed in all new clothes and headed downstairs to change myself. When I got downstairs I discovered more poo had been transferred to my shirt at some point and took this as a sign that I really shouldn’t be going out too much today. My most comfortable pajamas were going to be just fine for this day at home.
Bob and I laughed about the ridiculousness of it all as we considered the relative sizes of our son’s body and its ability to make noises and gooey messes. We puttered around with the various things that make up life until the time came again to change Bobby. I volunteered, hoping for a better experience. So, I settled him on his back pulled out a new diaper, opened the wipes, undid his old diaper and those of you with little boys (and apparently some little girls as well) can probably guess what happened next. Despite my careful practice of keeping Bobby well covered as I change him, he managed to pee all over the lower leg of my pajamas. After all, you can’t always have him covered, and Bobby is quite masterful at taking advantage of his opportunities.
After getting him fully diapered and dressed, I handed him off to Bob and changed yet again. (It suddenly becomes very clear to me why our laundry loads have shot up with the addition of just one very small person.) We settled down for the remainder of this seemingly relaxing day. I think we had lunch about 2:00 and took naps whenever Bobby finally was exhausted from all of his bubble blowing and baby crunches.
Later that evening we were heading out to have dinner. I don’t remember where, but we were dressing up just a bit for it. As a result, I was wearing one of my favorite dry-clean only cashmere sweaters. (One of the two I own, but it’s still exciting that I have more than one!) And, literally as we headed out the door, as my foot crossed the threshold and Bobby’s head peeked out into the cooling air, he puked on my shoulder. He had eaten at least an hour earlier, so this wasn’t the thin runny stuff; it had substance and solidity. There was certainly an element of chunkiness.
It was hilarious. Inconvenient, but hilarious. That was the day I knew I had to be, at least in some small part, a “real” mom. I had been pooped, peed, and puked on; surely this was some sort of anointing. And, lest you think Bob got off easy, later that night Bob sat down to check e-mail and was greeted by a little squish of poop that had spent its day on the chair.