Bad day? What bad day?
Lately I’ve been feeling generally overwhelmed and inept in the mothering department. Coraline is going through a sleepless, clingy, fussy, irritable phase and I am at a loss. I took her to an osteopath regarding some of her sleep issues, and he gently suggested that getting her off the boob and out of our bed at night would be helpful. “Behavioral modification” he called it. And his logic made sense. It makes total sense. Suddenly this anti-sleep training, anti-schedule mama thinks she’s doing it all wrong — but I don’t know what to do to make it right. And all the books I devour as fast as I can are only confusing me more. That’s the thing about this parenting stuff: There are a lot of opinions, anecdotes, and ideas out there, but there is no answer. I want there to be just one right answer; and though I know it does not exist, I feel like a failure for not knowing what it is.
So, after an intense evening post-osteopath trying to decide the best plan of action (and after a minor pity party and the requisite tears), Friday arrives to really drive my burgeoning complex home. I am downstairs sweeping while Coraline naps upstairs in the family bed. Suddenly there is a thud followed by choked sobs. I run upstairs to find my daughter belly up on the floor, lip bleeding and a goose egg rising on her forehead. She’d crawled right off the end of the bed. And though she was easily comforted, I’m still horrified to think about it. That one put me in the running for Mother of the Year for sure.
What sealed the deal happened just a short time later, when I discovered — after carting Coraline into the bank — that she’d pooped and apparently missed the diaper completely. My sweater was covered in yellow mess. In her car seat was a pool of yellow mess. I laid her in the back of the car to clean her up, only to discover that I had one baby wipe left — and no change of clothes. She had poop everywhere: in her hair, down her front, up her back. I had to use whatever clean spots I could find on her romper to wipe her down. Then, frantically, I ran into Marshall’s to find her something so we could make it to Little Gym on time. The outfit I grabbed off the rack didn’t fit — but in my haste I’d ripped the tags off at the register. So off we went to Little Gym, where someone mistook Coraline for boy and she cried her way through the 45-minute class because, well, she had a headache, a bad outfit, and a total dunce for a mother.
That evening, fried and feeling pretty pathetic, I poured myself a glass of wine, put on the Beatles, and sat in the glider while Coraline (naked as a jaybird) laughed and danced and cruised around her nursery. The day’s events seemed to phase her not. I think it’s hard to remind yourself in the thick of it that these babies of ours are resilient and non-judgmental. And though everyone tells you you’ll make mistakes — and you know they’re right — it never feels good when you do. Because you feel like you’re letting them down. Who wants to feel like they’ve been honored with the most important job in the world and they’re dropping the ball? It is times like those, though, that teach me to take a deep breath and call for reinforcements. Because she may be poorly dressed, or overtired, or covered in poop, but she is never, at any single moment, unloved — and I think she’d tell me the same thing if she could.