18 August 2011

10 Worst Mothering Moments (& what I learnt)

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 pre-school 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.

****P.S.  I actually do have THREE children,but so far after three whole years no major dramas with sweet Scrag. Long may it last****

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Johnny said...

Geez I love you. I love this article and I love your never changing honesty. So much of that I can relate to.
See you on Saturday!!!

Cat said...

*phew* THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU and thank you again for your honesty for making me realize that I'm not a bad mother nor are my children bad children - we're all just fine the way we are!
Oh my goodness I can relate to a more than a couple of your stories here! Not quite the double cast one but 2 casts within 6 months of each other, the formula feeding THANK YOU!! !! and the losing your kid (oh my goodness I didn't even know mine was missing until the neighbour brought her back)!
Another brilliant post

Tonya said...

I love how you did this. Those little suckers have a lot to teach us don't they?!

Stopping by from Mama Kat's!

K said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I have bad mommy moments that I must shove to the back of my mind and refuse to remember them from the terror they caused me, and worry that I am a bad mommy. I still can't get my mind off the fact that your baby sucked so hard there was blood. Holy cow! Ouch! How ever did you get through it?
But the last story really gripped my heart. That is such a fear of mine, losing a child, that I don't ever let myself play out the "what if my daughter is missing."

Thank you again for sharing this stories with us. Reading them made me realize that this is life and motherhood, and probably why we have white hairs already.

Cyndy Bush said...

#2, I think I'd have told everyone it all happened in one incident! LOL
LOVE #3. Great job Daddy!
Totally identify with #5, I had the bloody nipples too and it was excruciating. I hate the judgment that goes along with how we feed our babies.
#7 my kids always fell asleep in the car, like magic.
#10 made my heart race....that panicked feeling is just horrible, I imagine the only thing worse is NOT finding them.
Great post! Visiting from Mama Kat's.

cmorgenstern said...

This made me laugh and brought a few tears in my eyes. Yes, you really described how it is so realistically and wonderfully at the same time. With four kids I can relate to every single point easily. Thanks for sharing. Nothing to add.
Greetings from Germany

Kim Lehnhoff said...

I remember that crushing realization that I was now responsible for a human being TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY, day in and day out.

At 19, it was almost more than my wee brain could comprehend - but we muddled through (I referred to her as my practice child, since I made all the mistakes on her).

Dominique @ Dominique's Desk said...

Those are really interesting lessons. I too have learned a lot from my kids and can relate to what you say about the screamer and tantrum throwing. Visiting from Mama kats.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic post. I laughed, cringed and almost cried. I've had mnay similar moments.

Came her evia Kiwi Mummy Blogs. an't believe I haven't seen your blog before. I'm looking forward to checking out more of your other posts. Great work!!

Karen and Gerard said...

Great job, you get A+ on this one! Each one of these could be a a whole post by itself! I love how you framed your pictures too, definitely gives it that "plus" quality! You have learned so much and certainly have survived lots of scary situations.

Stopping by from writers workshop.

Unknown said...

#1 want to runaway weekly. I'm over it now I guess. He's never thought to have a destination when he threatens to runaway. I should ask him where he's headed next time he says!

Tara said...

thank you for sharing this! I love it!

Tiffany said...

"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 pre-school doesn’t mean they can use them at home without incident."

I laughed so hard at this little story. I was throwing a baby shower for a good friend of mine and a little girl came running out of my son's room exclaiming he was giving free haircuts. I PANICKED. Thank God he only used the dull plastic toddler scissors and hadn't found my craft scissors.

TKW said...

I love a girl who will share her misadventures! I recently had a little one in a cast, and my stepson had the double-cast look, so I can relate to the orthopedic adventures. Actually, I can relate to all of them. Here from MamaKat!

Lisa said...

Loved #4 and #5 Motherhood is painful. Great list.

The Woven Moments said...

Love this post! We had a self-given haircut here a few weeks ago. Still recovering.

rachel said...

awesome awesome AWESOME post. I read the WHOLE thing! (and I'm a skimmer). so many things I could relate to, it's kids that make us old, you know that, right? : )

Dianna said...

Wow, things are sure busy at your house! Having had only one child, I really can't relate. But your little ones have certainly taught you a lot so far!
I also chose this prompt; my post is very different, though, since my son is now grown.
Visiting from Mama Kat's.

Angela said...

This post is wonderful. Good job, you.

KatBouska said...

Oh geez...can I just learn the same lessons by reading your posts without actually having to experience them!?!

Kids sure put us through the ringer!!

Love your spin on the post and as usual love all your photos. You have a real talent missy!

CoffeeJitters said...

I tried to run away when I was five, but my mom wouldn't let me go back and get a sweater, and she made me wait for her to pack me a lunch because no child of hers was going to go hungry. by the time she was done packing, i'd lost interest in going

Corinne said...

Loving this post - have bookmarked it to read again when I'm having a moment like these. Moment #7 = yep.

Emily said...

Your post made me laugh and cry bc I HAVE had Social Services in my business FOR SIX MONTHS, all bc someone was just trying to help me, a huge misunderstanding.

My worst, worst moment was the day after my 10 month old was recovering from testicle and hernia surgery. He was napping in his crib and then stood up smiling at me. He then flipped over the crib, landing on the uncarpeted floor, on his spine. He sat still for a few seconds. "My tall baby is DEAD", I thought. And then he just looked at me and laughed.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, can so relate to this. Your totally normal and we all have had these moments.

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