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Failed Ninja Skills and Then Some

September 28, 2011

This past Sunday afternoon, the Mister kissed us good-bye to head to the airport for a business trip. He doesn’t return until midnight tonight, Wednesday. Okay, so three-and-a-half-days holding down the fort won’t kill me, right?

Apparently, it very well might.

Sunday went swimmingly and I thought, “Huh, look at me! I’m a parenting whiz!”

Monday, I did it all. I woke up with my baby in the morning, fed her, changed her, made her laugh, picked out an outfit, gave her her vitamins, entertained her while packing her diaper bag for homecare and remembering to include the freshly laundered pack and play sheet, made a breakfast sandwich to eat on the go for myself, packed my lunch/snacks, settled the baby in her car seat, picked up my laptop bag, diaper bag, and tote (with my lunch and other odds and ends that we needed to bring with us) with my left hand, picked up the car seat with my right hand, dragged myself out the door, loaded the car, drove, and dropped the baby off at homecare.

Huff. Puff.

THEN, I drove over to Barnes & Noble (I usually work from home but B&N is a lot closer to peachy’s home care, so I worked from there this week), set my laptop up, purchased a coffee, ate my breakfast sandwich as the computer slowly loaded, started my work, finished my work, drove back to homecare, picked up the peachy, smothered her in hugs and kisses, placed her into the car seat, picked up the diaper bag and tote, lugged everything to the car, loaded everything into the car, drove to TJMaxx, returned some items that needed returning, loaded the car again, drove to CVS, waited in line, picked up renewed prescription vitamins for the peachy, loaded her back into the car, drove home, fed the peachy, played with her for a bit, put her down for her late-afternoon nap, did some housework while she slept, woke her up, played with her for a little bit, fed her, loaded her into the car, drove two minutes to pick up dinner and realized the peachy was falling asleep, felt guilty for not giving her more playtime, turned around, drove back home, unloaded the car, brought the peachy inside, warmed up whatever leftover I could find, ate dinner while playing with peachy, played with her some more, carried her around while I set up her bath, gave her a bath, started her bedtime routine, finished her bedtime routine, put her down to sleep, washed bottles and other baby items, did some housecleaning (i.e. straightening, washing my dishes from dinner, etc.), went upstairs, checked my e-mail, surfed online, read a book, couldn’t fall asleep, read some more, and finally fell asleep with the book on my face sometime around 3am.

It was a great day because the peachy was all smiles and laughs and giggles.

Tuesday was pretty much the same. Except I was feeling a bit more tired and the peachy was a bit more quiet and a bit less amused for one reason or another. I think she missed her daddy.

Wednesday, today, I barely made it. I was a sleepy, overtired mess. The peachy, although she had slept well the night before and napped well during the day, was a sleepy, overtired mess.

I almost lost it when, loading the peach into the car after swinging by the mall, my flip flop broke. I drove the rest of the way home in bare feet. Thank goodness they broke just as I got to the car. I can’t imagine what I would have done if they had fallen apart somewhere in the middle of a store. Ha.

The peachy was feeling screechy today, and I don’t blame her. We miss the Mister, and this whole holding down the fort thing isn’t easy. I’m sure there are many of you out there who could do it and do it for longer while whistling a tune. Me? I learned this week that our family works best when we are together. Everyone is happier all around.

But I’m avoiding talking about why I’m really writing here. Instead, I used  my sneaky ninja avoidance skills and wrote out my Monday in excruciating detail so that you, my invisible, make-believe reader, would be hypnotized by the ginormous run-on sentence.

I’m really writing because I feel like a terrible mom today. My baby wasn’t happy, and neither was I. And I think I’m to blame. I was tired from the week, and it was pouring outside. It had also been gloomy and muggy and foggy all week. I should have gone home and played with the peachy and let her take her last nap at home, since she was so tired. But instead, I drove on over to the mall because I was tired too you know, and I didn’t have it in me to do anything but trudge around the mall and let the hullabaloo of the place keep my baby entertained.

And in my zoned out daze, I lost track of time and ran late. And rushed to the car. And the peachy skipped her last nap altogether (but thankfully snoozed a bit on the drive home). And my flip flop broke.

I got home and the Peachy had had it up to here (*pretending I’m holding my hand up over my head*). By the time bedtime rolled around, I was ready for the little bug to be in her jammies on the train to dreamland. So I rushed her vitamins.

Peachy has super ninja skills, like me, except hers are in the art of swiping. Try to wipe something off her face? Swipe. Try to offer her the bottle when she’s no loner interested? Swipe. Try to feed her the vitamins she hates so much? Two-handed swipe.

So I usually lay her on her back on our bed and lean over her while making funny faces to get her to laugh or to smile. Then, when her mouth opens, I gently place the dropper by her inner cheek and squeeze out the vitamins. This way, the vitamins roll down her inner cheek and not down her throat.

Well, today, I was in a rush. Plus, I was finishing up the last bottle of vitamins (instead of the new one I picked up on Monday), and I had to draw .5mL at a time, instead of the full 1mL. Which means two attempts at avoiding her ninja swipes. The first attempt was a success. Easily.

The second one, my little genius knew what was coming, and refused to open her mouth. She just smiled up at me with a big, close-lipped grin. “Grrrr…mommy has no time for smiles and close-lipped grins,” griped the mean ol’ witch.I have diapers to change! Sleepsacks to put on! Bedtime books to read! Bottles to feed! Teeth to brush!

So I kind of sort of wedged the dropper between her lips and squeezed out the drops. Except I guess I didn’t position the dropper quite right and the vitamins went down her throat.

I want to cry when I remember the wail she let out before a look of total confusion and horrific gagging took over. There’s nothing worse than hearing your baby cough and splutter and gag and gasp for air for full minutes and look totally helpless and confused and miserable because of you. Okay, I’m being stupid. There are A ZILLION things that are worse than that.

But still, it sucked so bad. I held her and whispered, “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay,” trying to calm her while my own heart raced on. How could I have done that? What was so important that I would put my daughter through this?

Perhaps to some, it just sounds like I’m blowing things way out of proportion. To others, I’m a complete monster and deserve to be deprived of my mommy rights.

I really don’t care.

What matters is that, to me, it felt horrible. I can’t get the sound of my daughter gulping gobs of air and trying to catch her breath out of my head. What would I have done if it was something choking her? I want to throw up just asking myself that. I want to beat myself over the heat with a bottle for doing what I did and putting my baby through that. I picked her up and held her and soothed her and she finally coughed that vitamin up, along with some spit up, and gagged and burped a few more times.

Make that two bottles to beat over my head.

I walked over to the mirror, because they always make Peachy happy, and I almost cried. She looked a little puzzled and bewildered, but she was still clinging onto me with that death grip she has when she doesn’t want me to put her down, and when she saw our reflection in the mirror she broke out into the biggest, open-mouthed, crinkled-eyes smile.

I almost burst into tears.

What have I done to deserve such complete love and trust? I mess up every day. A hundred times a day. And yet my baby loves me and wants me ALL THE TIME. To her, I’m the one who rescued her from that bad ol’ vitamin going down her throat, not the one who caused her so much desperate gasping and gagging. If anything had happened to her, I would NEVER have forgiven myself.

I feel like a total schmuck. And that’s why I’m writing about this today. To remember that bad days don’t get better by rushing through them. Bad days are sure to come, but there are better ways of dealing with them than force-feeding your daughter vitamins. I need to learn to loosen up as a mom. If I’m really that exhausted, I can leave the bottles soaking to wash tomorrow. I can save the bath. I can skip the dang vitamins.

I can stop trying to do everything my way and NOW. Why now? Does it have to be now? Is it best for it to be done now? Or is it actually wiser, kinder, gentler to do it later? Sometimes the answer will be yes, sometimes no. It’s our job as parents to figure out what is our priority now, and what can wait until later.

My screechy peachy, we were both a bit screechy today, weren’t we? I’m sorry for making your bad day even worse by forgetting that you are not my baby to “control”. We have to work together and learn each other. I promise to be more aware of my actions. I want to be more gentle, more patient, more in tune with you. That doesn’t mean I want to be a pushover (you’re not getting that one pass me, kiddo!), but I want to be a better parent and that means feeling good about it in my heart of hearts and in my gut.

I love you and I hope one day you will look at me and know just how deep and joyful and unconditional that love is, the way I did looking at you in the mirror tonight. Tomorrow is another day. And it will be a better day, I know it. For starters, I’m going to make sure its your abba who feeds you your vitamins. 😉

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