What Parenting Is Like – 24 Hours In My Life

I call myself “Mom Interrupted.”

The last 24 hours certainly haven’t been the worst or most extreme of my parenting experiences. There have been bouts of sleep-deprived rage and the many times I’ve had to clean runny poop out of the carpet that have topped the woes of the last day.

However, in case you’re wavering about having children, or already pregnant and wondering what to expect, or if you already took the initial leap into parenting and are debating whether to add a second child to the current chaos, I will lay out my experience of Wednesday to Thursday this week:

Wednesday lunch:

Arrive home from five-year-old Max’s dental check-up with a quick-and-easy lunch of chicken fingers, fries, and coleslaw. Serve Max’s and baby sister Josie’s lunches. Reheat my lunch. Turn to see baby fling sippy cup on floor. Wipe up spilt milk. Try to find something else to feed her. Hear Max saying something from the living room, but can’t make it out. Pour my drink. Refill Josie’s milk cup. I am still hungry but also need to go release the pee I’ve been holding in for a while. Pee.

Reheat lunch again. Sit down. Baby wants something else to eat. Ignore her screeches while I take a first bite of food. Max wants another snack. Return to kitchen and round up quasi-healthy nutrition, and then sit back down to “enjoy” cold food.

Often meals are interrupted by Max saying “I need to make a poop” and then three minutes later: “I’m duh-un!” followed by “Can you wipe my butt?” So Wednesday lunch went pretty well by comparison.

Wednesday afternoon:

Put baby down for her nap. Ignore housework and writing work to give Max some attention. Curled up on the couch and watched the end of Despicable Me. Read books. Got him ready for his daily “quiet time.” Took a breath, sat down and fired up my computer to start writing – something that has been on my to-do list for many years. Knew that Josie would wake up as soon as I logged on. Less than 10 seconds after I finished the thought, heard her wake up and call out.

Any chance of work time or alone time is out of the question until after bedtime. The sweet, blissful relaxation of nighttime. Mommy’s recharge time. Except when it isn’t.

Wednesday night/Thursday morning:

Once you are through baby’s first year, most of the time night time is what it should be – a complete break from being a parent to restore yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally, and to have a little time to be the non-parent version of you, and whatever pleasures that includes.

But there are growth spurts, illnesses, bad dreams and various other reasons that require double overtime from parents. Last night was one of those nights.

Max wakes me up at 4am, “I threw up in my bed.” Me: “Okay, hunny, sorry you don’t feel well, get into bed with me and I’ll clean it up in the morning.” He tosses and turns for 30 minutes next to me. I put him on the floor next to the bed with a pillow and blanket. “Mommy really needs to go back to sleep, please keep your eyes closed and try to rest.” Almost fall asleep. Hear husband snoring and wake up. Almost fall asleep again. Now Josie is crying and Max is still awake. Get up and survey  the damage on his bed. See with relief that his “throw up” is dry-heave clear fluid. Strip wet sheet off his bed and tuck Max back in. Baby has stopped crying. Gratefully crawl back into bed.

Wait 20 minutes. Josie’s crying again. Go in to nurse her and lay her back down. Get back into bed. Max runs into room saying “I threw up in my bed again!” I ask: “Was it a little or a lot?”. He estimated “a medium amount.” Left it ‘til morning, and invited him back into bed with me. Hope to sleep. Got up and followed him to the bathroom when he said he needed to throw up again. Still just a little bit of clear dry heave. Wiped his mouth. Got back in bed. He continued to twitch and turn so back on the floor he went. Wait a little while. Husband’s alarm goes off at 6:40am. The three of us cuddle in bed.

Tell Dad to go downstairs and get Max some dry cheerios. He gives him different cereal with milk, which Max does not eat. Decide to send Max to school, since he had been off the three previous days and today was the first day back. And it was dry heave after all. Coach Max to eat dry cheerios to settle his stomach. He does not throw up. He starts acting more silly and energetic. Off to school he goes.

Thursday mid-morning ‘til now (1pm):

Drink two cups of coffee and eat bacon. Also, feed baby. Play with baby. Read to baby. Lay Josie down for nap. Baby’s fighting her nap. The dreaded call comes at 10:38am from Max’s school. Thankfully, he has not thrown up again and has no fever. But he’s a bit fatigued and not really doing much work. Get Josie from her crib. She has a poop. Pick up Max. Get home and announce that everyone is going to bed! Change a smelly diaper, make up Max’s bed (not necessarily in that order). Max shows his silly, defiant self, not acting very sick. Feel annoyed and snap at him to get to the potty, get his clothes on, and get into his bed for a nap ASAP. Nurse the baby down. Check on Max. Not asleep. Start dryer. Check on him again. He appears asleep.

OMG! I hit the holy grail of motherhood – both children simultaneously sleeping during the day time!

I need to shower and write, but instead I prioritized researching and phoning a local elementary school that actually keeps doors locked during the day (the ones closer to me don’t). School safety is important to me, especially since Max is a rising kindergartener and has always attended a locked pre-school.

Hang up phone. Start writing. Actually get to finish this post! Although through the last 10 minutes (now 20 minutes) I have heard Josie make various non-emergency sounds over the monitor.

This was a completely true story and I hope you enjoyed it. At least Max is still asleep (oh, wait, he’s awake now, too.) Send him in Josie’s room to entertain his sister. He comes running back in as I finish up: “I need to poop!” And we’re off again, until bedtime.

But there was no runny poop in the carpet. That is always a good day.

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