10 June 2010

Ten Worst Mothering Moments {and what I learnt from them}

I've picked ten of my Worst Mothering Moments for your reading pleasure, to remind you that even on your worst days you are not alone! Here they are in no particular order...

1. The Thump and the Scream
When Dash was three, our playroom had a little playhouse inside and adventurous Dash loved to climb on its roof, by means of a chair. Seeing the potential for disaster I moved the chair away - far enough (I thought) so little sister couldn’t climb up... but no. I leave the room for a second and hear the sickening thump... a pause... the blood-curdling scream.
Racing inside I see my 18-month-old daughter prone on the floor, her arm outstretched and bent in the middle. It’s so obvious that it's broken. This is a bad moment. I am alone in the house with two toddlers; I can’t get through to my husband. I try to get my screaming daughter into the car without hurting her more; try to break landspeed records through rush-hour traffic to get her to the A&E; then we wait two days in the hospital for them to operate on her arm...

WHAT I LEARNT: Try as you may, you can never fully protect your kids from mishaps. And ambulances get through rush hour traffic much faster than regular vehicles.

2. The Double Cast Girl
Miss Fab is all decked out with a fluoro pink cast on her broken wing when she skids on the shiny polished floor of a community hall. Limping, she tries to walk, but her leg gives way and she sobs in pain. Off to A&E we go again. They remember her from three weeks ago and call her by name. The x-ray shows nothing.
Two days later she still can't walk properly. Back at A&E a different doctor looks at the x-rays and decides that as a precaution we will put a matching pink cast on her leg. This worst mothering moment lasts two weeks. I try to avoid going out in public with my double-casted daughter. I try to avoid the stares and tut-tuts. What kind of mother lets her baby girl get two broken limbs??? Shame. It wasn't broken. But we still had two weeks double-casted.

WHAT I LEARNT: Judge not, lest ye be judged! Just because a kid has two broken limbs doesn’t mean there isn’t a very good explanation. (And lugging a toddler with two casts gives you a wicked backache!)

3. The Runaway
Not long after Dash started school his behaviour took a sudden turn for the worse - daily meltdowns and tears, defiant and uncooperative behaviour. It all came to a head when my five-year-old announced that he wanted a different family, he hated us and he was leaving home. Marching down the hallway with his backpack, he demanded that Daddy take him to the bus stop. He was off to go and live with Grandma in England.

Now I can see the funny side and I know that most kids have a turn at wanting to run away... but at that moment I was devastated. My kid says he hates us! He's so miserable that he's trying to run away! (I am a failure as a parent).
My hubby decided to call Dash’s bluff and agreed to drive him to the bus stop. By now it was raining and dark. Daddy explained that the bus might not come for a while, and Dash may have to sleep there. "We don't want you to leave, son, but if that's what you want..." Daddy said, holding the car door open to the black wet night. The little boy burst into tears and cried, "I don't want to go but I'm just so saaaaad!"
Wise daddy took the sad little boy for a milkshake and the story poured out (his best friend had moved to live in Australia. Dash was heartbroken and lost without him at school). By the time they returned Dash ws his old self again. But that hour and a half waiting for them to return was one of the longest I've ever spent.

WHAT I LEARNT: Sometimes Daddy knows best. And when push comes to shove five year olds don’t really want to run away (at least not on dark rainy nights).  

4. Reality Bites
It's November 2002 and I am a brand new mummy. At home with my baby, I am one big ball of pain. Everything hurts. Every bone in my body is aching with a level of tiredness I never imagined... all I want to do is go to bed and sleep for ten days.
But I can't. Because I am now a Mother. The weight of that responsibility descends upon me like a ton of bricks. This is it now for me forever. I am sick, I am tired, I am in agony, but I still have to put my baby first. He must still be fed from these painful breasts, he must be changed and cuddled and rocked and loved no matter how I feel. What a long black moment for me when the Weight of Mothering landed on me.

WHAT I LEARNT: Mothering is harder than it looks.

5. The Little Vampire
Let me introduce you to my little baby vampire. He sucked the milk so hard he drew blood. I'll never forget the shock of seeing him come off the breast with a ring of blood around his mouth; the dread I felt contemplating every feed. I'll never forget the absolute agony of him latching on. I would sit there feeding him with tears streaming down my face, in pure agony. I'll never forget the kindness and humanity of my midwife, the magic of her blessed breast pump; the relief at being able to express milk and feed him with a bottle; that thing saved my sanity and enabled me to go on and breastfeed successfully.

WHAT I LEARNT: If mama aint happy, aint nobody happy. Never ever look down on anyone for formula feeding. Tell any judgey types to feed a day in your nipple shields.

6. The Haircut
My daughter is four, nearly five. About to start school. About to have a Princess party. And she has grown impatient waiting for her fringe to grow out after she chopped it the last time (oh yes, she's played hairdresser before)...
So she cuts her fringe off at the roots. Immediately she realises she has messed up. She hides the chopped-off hair under her bed, and emerges wearing a hoodie. This is unusual and I wonder why... I think I went into actual shock when I pushed back the hood to reveal nothing but a patch of stubble where her hair used to be. I can not describe to you the horror. There was no way to disguise this mess. She was nearly bald at the front. And it grew soooo slooowly. A year later it was finally back to normal.

WHAT I LEARNT: Keep all scissors locked away at all times (preferably hidden in a combination safe with trip wires and sirens). Just because they use scissors safely at kindy doesn’t mean they can use them at home without incident.

7. The Screamer
 It's and our 14-month-old daughter has woken up and decided that it is playtime. No way, baby girl! I put her back in her cot, but she is a climber and exceptionally determined... she climbs right back out. We play this game approximately 476 times. By now she has been screaming for nearly three hours; she is beside herself and so are we. Her scream is like an air raid siren going off next to your ear. There is no escaping it.
By now we are worried there is something wrong with her. We thought it was a just a tantrum but what if she is ill? in pain??
I go downstairs and phone Healthline. The nurse on the phone says, "Is that her I can hear screaming???" From three doors away upstairs, my child's screams can be clearly heard over the phone. Oh boy. "Take her to A&E," says the nurse, "just in case..."
We pack her into the car, and I drive off with her screaming in the back seat... two minutes down the road I realise that the ringing in my ears is because it is quiet. And there she is the little tinker, asleep in her carseat looking like an angel.

WHAT I LEARNT: Some kids are beyond the help of Supernanny. Some kids will never ever back down. And it is a wise thing to invest in some good quality earplugs.  

8. The Climber
Noisy toddler Dash could sometimes be super sensitive. One day I growled, “Be quiet, you’ll wake the baby!” then left the room for a few minutes to check on her. When I came downstairs Dash was gone, he was nowhere inside our tiny house. Then I noticed the trike pushed over to the open window. Worried I ran outside to the teensy garden - empty. He must have climbed over the gate! I race down the driveway leaving the baby upstairs asleep. I look up the street, and walking towards me is our neighbour carrying my crying toddler, who had been spotted heading for a busy intersection and caught just before he reached it. It was a near miss. Cars don't even pause there. I have no doubt that my neighbour returning from work right then saved Dash's life. His reason for running? Looking for daddy. Mummy had growled him, so he wanted his daddy. Oh the Guilt.

WHAT I LEARNT: If your kid is a climber nothing is ever truly child-proof. Angels exist. One of them lived next door to me and saved my boy’s life.

9. The Panic
It was school holidays and I was hugely pregnant with Scrag but I thought I would be brave and take the kids to the movies. It was wall-to-wall people, the ticket-line was crawling slowly. Eventually we got our tickets and elbowed our way through the crowd upstairs to the theatre. I was weaning off anti-depressants being in the last trimester of pregnancy and I was suffering. 
I told myself, It'll be OK once we get inside and sit down... Problem. I’ve been given tickets to the wrong session and the meanie on the door won't let us through. He wants us to go all the way back down through that crowd and line up again, get new tickets and then come back...

All of a sudden I was dying. Blind panic filled me from head to foot and I ran, pushing past people, elbowing through in desperation for the back stairs, hoping my kids were following but unable to stop and check. Sobbing I reached some open space and clung to the wall, my breath coming in gasps. People walked past me, staring. No-one stopped to help. Shaking and crying I gathered my little chicks and made it downstairs. We did not watch the movie.
WHAT I LEARNT:   Always always check your tickets. If you see someone sobbing and crying, help them! (and don’t go to the movies in the school holidays if you are prone to panicking or don’t like crowds!)

10. Missing
Football practise was over and the kids are all playing on the playground. I am sitting in the parked car right in front, watching them. Toot! Toot! Let's go guys, I call. I have four kids with me today... I follow their progress into the car... one... two...three... where is number four?? Where is Miss Fab? She was just here!
The boys look at each other blankly. I jump out of the car and run towards the playground calling her name. No reply. Some of the other parents come over, I explain that she has disappeared and they join in the search... There’s no sign of her. Where can she have gone??? Sickening fear rises up in my throat. The worst has happened. She has been snatched right from under my nose. I took my eyes off her for a second. I will have to tell her daddy that she has been lost on my watch. Our family will never be the same. I will never get to see her grow up, get married, have babies... my mind is racing to the negative as I keep calling her name and running, running, looking...

Ten minutes have passed with no sign of her. Ten minutes is a long time when your child is missing. The coach's wife jumps in her car and does a circuit of the park perimeter... I see her car stopping, a small figure in the far off distance... could it be my girl???

I run, heart racing, the nightmare begins to recede as hope rises. It is her. She went to where we parked last week; forgot where we were parked today. She is fine, but I am not. It takes a whole day for me to recover from that feeling of devastation, imagining a world without her.

WHAT I LEARNT: As bad as the moments can be with your kids, the worst moments are the ones where you face losing them. No matter how much they do your head in, the thought of a world without them is unbearable.

There are many more bad moments I could mention: the often-trod walk of shame hauling tantrum-ing tots from shopping malls as all eyes stare, the mortification of having a Biter, the stomach-turning job of cleaning up endless rounds of vomit and sodden bedding...

There are even some moments I can't bring myself to speak of yet.

Yep, it's a hard road this mothering lark, but difficult as it is, I would never swap it for anything in the world.

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Unknown said...

The Runaway is a very sweet story... I love the way your hubby handled it, although I'm sure it was horrible for your mommy's heart!
The Little Vampire hit a little bit too close to home! The day after we brought Levi home (me with cracked nipples), I fed him and burped him. He spit up blood... not milk and blood... bright red blood! All over the burp cloth, on his onesie, dripping down the sides of his sweet little mouth. We were terrified and called 911. Turns out I was bleeding more than I had realized and when blood hits the stomach a baby will automatically throw it up. I NEVER want to see that again. The image will forever be burned into my memory.

Sammy said...

haha! I am trying to laugh (and type!) silently as Blossom is in a semi-sleep next to me. So hard as those moments are SO funny!!! And I am a little scared as some similar moments are bound to be ahead of me!!!

Meghan Maloney Photography said...

Oh lordy, that is an impressive list...your kids certainly like to keep you on your toes...! But it seems like you just take everything in your stride. Mind you looking back on it is always much easier than living through it!

My worst moment so far was having to be in the theatre holding Mr. 4 down when they put him to sleep for a wee op at 14 months. Then he promptly fell down the stairs about 3 days after the op when he wasn't meant to be moving around much.

Kids are so resilient though aren't they, and so forgiving of us as we make mistakes. We all have so much to learn about being a parent, and I don't think that ever ends. What matters is enjoying the journey and being able to reflect positively on the MANY learning experiences.

Great post! :-)

alicia said...

Haha. Too funny! Love your honesty! The hair one is a hoot. And don't we all feel like that after the birth of our babes? And the runaway/milkshake story only proves what wonderful parents you are!

Anonymous said...

whoa those are really heavy. S'always good to know that we're not the only ones having horrible mother moments. I might do a post on mine, too. :)

PaisleyJade said...

Wowsers - great read and totally feeling for you with some of those.

I love the fact that we can look back and laugh/smile at these sorts of moments!

Renee said...

#5. That is so me. Seeing that blood around her mouth and then the following 1.5 seconds it took to compute what had happened was the longest slow-motion 1.5 seconds of my life. Feeding whilst sobbing and with tears running down my face, yep. That's a top mothering moment in my mind, too.

Thanks for a fab post - such a relief to know I'm not the only one!!!

KNB said...

I've given your blog a Blog with Substance Award. Please stop by my blog to pick it up!

Neetz said...

Oh I have a few also...but one that stands out in my mind was trying to cut my 5mth olds fingernails...with the clippers, and squeezing..waiting for the "click"...but instead getting a shrill cry..and seeing all that blood... OH MAN...I cried and cried and cried and apologised to her, and cuddled her and then thought... I'll give her a booby to quieten her down...that did it. she stopped immediately.. I rang my husband to tell him what I had done and when he said "Hello"...I cried so much I think he thought something fatal had happened to her!! lol
I still feel stink to this day about that incident.

Sophie said...

Ohhhh! Those moments Simoney. Went through the same nipple pain thing with Amelie and with Chloe. This last time with Chloe was dreadful as I had a blocked nipple too. I put her on formula from 3 weeks, full time from 3 months and don't regret it for one moment!

I was going to blog this but didn't in the end... Two weeks ago we were at a birthday party and I bit into a meat pie and dripped hot meat filling on Chloe's forehead. Gave her a second degree burn! It was horrible. And worse was that she would calm down with Thierry but not with me. And that all the other mums were crowding round to see if she was ok. I felt horrible. Thankfully its already healed and I don't have to keep answering questions about it or looking at it feeling horrible.

We also lost Carys in a busy market by the side of the road last year. It was HORRIBLE. Ten minutes of frantically imagining James Boulger kind of things or that she might have wandered into the traffic. It turned out that she had been taken to the music/news announcer stand.

Anonymous said...

Gosh these moments are clearly still so vivid, you describe them with so much detail and emotion. I await these moments of horror. So far (touch wood) i have had a lot of psychologically tough times but am yet to experience my first moment of absolute blinding panic / terror. I'm sure it is only a matter of time.
Gorgeous family

Sukilou said...

Have been having a trying day today, but your post has helped me look on the brighter side, especially No.10 - any family's worst nightmare - the relief you must have felt when you got her back in your arms! Great post :)

The South African Kiwis said...

Oh boy, I just read through this and can feel your pain with every single story having had similar moments to each and every one of those situations.
Big long cyber hugs!

Anonymous said...

I love the honesty in this post! You really captured what a journey parenting is.

Unknown said...

Hey, I am visiting from SITS. Congrats on your feature day! I am not a parent yet, but I found this post hilarious, honest, and taking the good out of the bad. Great job!

Sima J said...

Haha awesome post!! SO true - how freaked out you are when you can't find your kids agh!! Fantastic stories :-)

Maggie S. said...

Your stories speak of deep love and awe at your privilege of loving your children. So real, and so vulnerable.

Unknown said...

What a great share. I have a couple of kids on the spectrum and many horrible days that I could never share because other humans with typical children can't even comprehend. Though there are times I just take a picture to capture the moment for a decade or two later when I might develop a humor about the incident. Thank you for sharing. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

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