Sigh. Sigh sigh sigh. These sighs are coming up from the very bottom of my toes, it feels like. I have felt like a lousy mom many many times today. I have BEEN a lousy mom at least once today. And the worst of it is, I was actually TRYING. And it just wasn't enough. Sometimes your best is just not enough to handle what's thrown at you. Not gracefully, anyways.
The Sordid Story:
I've been under the weather plus PMSing, so I knew today was likely to be crappy. Therefore, I did everything I could to head it off: I made us a nice nutritious breakfast, I took plenty of medicine, and I didn't worry about house chores other than dishes and laundry. I spent lots of time snuggling and cuddling and being silly with the kids on their level instead of making lists and schedules and trying to push myself. AND (this is very important to note) I was changing Eli's diaper every hour to make sure his rash wasn't going to flare up again. Everyone hung around in their jammies until eleven, and generally were happy as clams.
I asked them what they wanted for lunch, and Addy gave the standard answer: scrambled eggs. We eat a LOT of scrambled eggs around here. So I made that, and oatmeal- a breakfast lunch, nothing wrong with that, right? And I let Addy help me make it and everything. All was well, the kids were eating, and then suddenly Eli got a pained look on his face and announced that he needed a diaper change.
This would not ordinarily be a big deal. But Eli got a diaper rash last week, and even though it's getting better, he is now absolutely petrified of diaper changing and completely loses his mind when he has a dirty diaper that requires extensive wiping. This always happens: one rash flare-up leads to a week at least of diaper changing drama. I dread diaper rashes like some people dread colonoscopies.
You get ONE wipe before he reacts to the discomfort of his rash and begins to scream and flail around maniacally on his bed. One wipe if you're LUCKY. Also please understand: even for Jim, getting Eli immobilized enough to clean him properly is a challenge. For me it's almost impossible. I literally do not have enough upper body strength to match 1) his shockingly muscular thighs, and 2) his adrenaline-fueled INSANITY once he sees a wipe coming his way. Our solution is usually to just wait him out until he's settled down a bit and then try again, then let him scream, then try again, etc. It's a process to say the least. AND I have to change his sheets every day before bed because he's always ended up getting poo on them. It's like I'm laundering changing pad covers for a newborn all over again.
I feel bad for him because he's so obviously terrified and I'm sure the rash causes pain and all. But dude, it's not like it's BLEEDING or anything. I think it's really way more a matter of emotional panic here than actual physical torture. He's just a passionate kind of kid for sure. He tantrums all the time, still, so I suppose it shouldn't shock me that unpleasant diaper changes lead to tantrums too. But when there's poo flying everywhere and getting on my sleeve and on the bed and on his socks and up his leg and he's thrashing and twisting and arching away from me, all while screaming bloody murder as though I'm trying to kill him instead of just CLEAN HIM UP WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY FUN FOR ME EITHER, it's super hard for me not to lose my cool.
All that to say, I totally DID lose my cool this morning, when he had managed to destroy my outfit and his outfit and the mattress protector on his bed and gotten poo in his hair and I had run out of wipes but still hadn't gotten him clean. I was screaming right back at him to just HOLD STILL FOR (something not nice's) SAKE! and not just in a loud voice but a kind of a hissy, mean voice, and it was crossing my mind to just give his thigh a smack to snap him out of his craziness, but I realized that there was no way I should be attempting any sort of corporal ANYTHING right now, because I WANTED to smack him a little more than I should have and...
Gah. It was ugly. I had to just leave him in his screamy, poo-smeared tantrum and go into the hall and cry before I could deal with it again. I finally went back in, and, when all my renewed efforts to help him settle down were futile, I just pinned him down with my elbow and knee (there's something I never thought I'd say regarding my child sigh sigh sigh) and used warm wet washcloths to clean him up. Washcloths which I then threw away, along with the mattress protector, because they were SO gross I didn't even want them in my washing machine. Then I put him in the bath, where he immediately settled down and began playing boats as though the twenty minute fiasco had never even happened.
I however was slumped against the bathtub, having a huge fit of depression about what a craptastic mom I was and how no WONDER the universe wasn't letting me stay pregnant right now, I can barely keep from killing the baby I HAVE... And then Adelay came in, saw my face, made a sad face herself, and gave me a big hug. She said softly, "I so proud of you, mom!" Which made me burst into tears. "Why are you proud of me?" I asked incredulously. "You help Eli when he, when he be's... so CRAZY with his diaper," she explained laboriously, gesturing towards their bedroom. "You're a nice girl!" This, accompanied with gentle back patting.
Just... What do you even do with that kind of sweetness?
I guess maybe I've done a few things right.
(Either that or it's very tragic that my four year old is already good at talking people off a ledge.)