Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mommy Triage

Motherhood is the most uppy and downy of rides. It's the most bipolar of states I can ever imagine.

There was a moment last night when both of my kids were in the bath tub and Amelia was sitting there splashing and Cole was giggling and tickling her feet.  Then he reached over and gave her a hug and said, "She's so cozy!" It was one of those precious moments where I felt like I had exactly the most wonderful version of the life I've dreamed of.

Then there was another moment earlier in the day, during nap time.  I'd just put Cole to sleep twice and he was kicking his wall and yelling that he hates naps.  Amelia was screaming in her bed and my heart was racing.  The house looked like ToysRUs threw up in the living room and the counters were littered with dishes from lunch and breakfast. Every surface was sticky or crumb-coated and I was just praying for the strength to make it until Mark got home.

Being a mother is definitely like a roller coaster.  But being a mother of two is like being an Emergency Room Triage Nurse every hour of the day and night. There is a constant state of triage when you have more than one child. Snotty noses, ingestion of dust bunnies, licking the undersole of daddy's slipper - these are all very low on the totem of importance. Nearly anything else will trump these everyday occurances. A toddler saying he has to poo when he's not wearing a diaper trumps an explosive shit by a diapered baby any day. If the shit goes up the baby's back and makes an orange stain on the onesie, this ups its importance but it STILL gets trumped by the toddler.  If the explosive sound is accompanied by a mess that escapes to the child's outside (i.e. the leg holes) and the child is somewhat mobile and then able to spread it around, then this trumps the undiapered toddler's claim about needing to poop.  These are the types of decisions you need to be able to make on a moment to moment basis. Each time someone cries or yells, "Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah-Meeeeeeeeeeeeee!" you will ask yourself: Is this life or death? Is someone going to get hurt or terribly maimed? Is this going to make a big mess? Is this going to result in more work for me in the short term or long term?

Hundreds of times a day, you need to decide to put down one child in a safe place, to tend to the other one. Baby's crying in her crib is very low on importance when all you want is a shower and it's quarter to four in the afternoon. Not turning your toddler's brain to mush by watching too much t.v. was very high in importance about seven months ago, but since the new sister arrived, it has dropped off the scale. Because wearing clean clothes requires laundry and not becoming an episode of some freakish TLC program requires some daily tidying and cleaning and when the baby is sleeping, this is probably as high on the triage list of importance as it gets. Do nearly anything to keep the other kid from waking his sister is the mantra at our house.

It's easy to get caught up in the chaos of it all. But every now and again I try to step back, take a deep breath and remind myself that this is Cole's childhood.  And this is Amelia's babyhood.  They only get to live it once.  I only get to live it with them once. I only get one chance to be the parent I wanted to be. And every moment, good and bad, is a chance to be that.

Does it almost look like I'm juggling?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wonderfully true .. and you juggle with the best of them!

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