I don’t want to brag, but after four years at the position, I am now a very good Mom. This has nothing to do with effort, tactics, instincts or passion for the job. This has everything to do with me being open to asking for help when I get stuck, having the luxury to take breaks when I need them, and having a child who 99% of the time will do what I ask.
Crazy, right? I read other Parenting Blogs and I am on Facebook, aka Ground Zero for letting off steam when your kid is being an asshole, so I know how lucky I am.
But just when I was feeling confident that I had this gig on lock, life decided to hand me a particularly gross curveball.
After a long winter of cold after cold after bronchial infection and ensuing antibiotic treatments, our family of three had finally all achieved some semblance of health. The Kleenex and Vaseline were put away. The stained sheets were laundered. The humidifier was off and enjoying some well-deserved rest with some scotch and Netflix.
I dared to believe we might have a stretch of clear lungs, eyes and urine in front of us.
My cold came storming back and I was a weak-limbed pile of body parts topped with a teetering bowling ball skull of mucus and pressure. My sinuses thudded out a 90s Ibiza beat. I dragged myself through every day. I changed into soft pants the second I got home. Dinner was sandwiches and chips. I did a lot of inadvertent moaning.
There was no relief – night time medicine and Vicks Vaporub and steam baths was simply no match for this Mutant Cold. I even dragged out my nerdiest of medicinal devices – the Neti Pot.
I was so stuffed up that when I slowly tilted my head forward and to the side, jammed the spout up one nostril and poured the lukewarm saline into my head, it never drained out the other nostril. (So, there *might* be a small fetid hot tub set up in behind my nose now. Germs are going to give my sinuses a very complimentary Yelp review.)
I was in a bad way but I just kept on keeping on. You can function with a cold. Everything is fucking terrible and everyone who is healthy can go eat a dick, but you get up every day, shuffle into the bathroom, and take a small measure of joy horking great yellow gobs out of your nose and lungs down the drain of the hottest shower you can handle.
I was still able to handle life and responsibility and parenting (again with more inadvertent moaning than was probably necessary) when on Day 1700 of this cold, I got the call from daycare.
Stella was crying when she urinated.
Might be a bladder infection.
I took her to the closest walk-in clinic and we hunkered down and waited. (A pleasant discovery that made me oddly proud - turns out she is like her Mama and enjoys a good eavesdrop session in a packed waiting room.)
An hour passed.
We finally got into the examining room and, as suspected, were told that in order for anything to be diagnosed, a urine sample was required.
I tugged her down the hall into the public washroom and dug deep.
This was the task at hand:
Get her shoes, tights and underwear off so I could perch her on the toilet, then squat down beside her with one arm gently rubbing her back and the other arm angled crookedly down in the toilet, holding the tiny specimen cup under her crotch approximately where the trickle might land.
And she's sobbing with pain and fear.
And the foreign pubic hair count is high – both on the seat, in the toilet water and on the ground.
And I'm eventually sitting on the ground because my knees are screaming, and my head is pounding and my arm is falling asleep and I'm petrified she will pee and I will miss it and then have to go pay a bum $76 to pee into a cup for me.
And the walls are beautifully echoing her now louder screams of displeasure and anger.
And nothing I say or do is working. My husband texts me some great advice that I read with blurry eyes of gratitude, but it does nothing. We have always cajoled or manipulated or magically hit the right note for her to obey us. Always. There's that brag again. It’s like we can always reach that same point where she trusts us and we don’t lead her astray and we get through and it's wonderful. I was not ready for this streak to die. But the streak of lord knows WHAT in the toilet was a pungent spectator of my failure.
And the door handle keeps turning and jiggling because this is the only bathroom in the clinic and apparently the yowling (her) and steady rhythm of pleading (me) does not indicate to the geniuses out there that THIS BATHROOM IS BUSY AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO FUCKING HOLD ON A FUCKING SECOND, YOU TREMENDOUS DEAF DICKS.
Eventually, I gave up. I had to. I had to admit defeat or stay in that bathroom until the end of time, or end of office hours. She was too afraid to pee because it hurt too much and even if Elsa herself had whipped that door open with a talking Snowman and a blonde braid wig in exchange for three precious drops of piss, even she would have stormed away empty-handed.
I couldn't conceal my disappointment and frustration. The Doctor may have come back to our room and seen me sitting slumped with my arms folded across my chest, pouting while she sat across from me, shoeless, shuddering with the after-tears shakes.
We left empty-handed and I stormed out with her trailing behind me. When I think about how she must have looked at my retreating back and angry purse swinging, I die a little inside. She was shuffling because it hurt so much and I didn’t have an ounce of sympathy. I DIE, you guys. I just. Ugh.
I know this moment of weakness on my behalf shouldn't tarnish my otherwise pretty rad Parenting Record, but I succumbed to some basic bullshit behaviour that I regret a lot.
The next morning she peed for me successfully and I gave her so many kisses, hugs, high fives and ebullient praise that eventually she told me to calm the fuck down.
Yeah, the classic over compensation couldn't heal the damage done the day before, but, God, I was just so happy I had real live glistening swirling piss to give to a lab.
It ended up being "just" a yeast infection. Some mild baths and yogurt helped us through it.
My ego bounced back a little as I successfully convinced her Yop was delicious.
My cold faded.
Hopefully her memory of my temper tantrum will too. I failed her that day, not the other way around. I'm sure it won’t be the last time I get stuck, but I want it to be the last time I make her feel bad for feeling bad.
I know now that I'm not Super Mom and not every scenario is going to end with me emerging triumphant from a filthy bathroom, with a warm wet trophy held mightily aloft in one hand.
I still feel like a good Mom though. Because a good Mom would agonize about this enough to rehash it into a Blog Post, right?