One of my earliest memories as a new mother of three, was when Coen, my youngest was about two weeks old and I decided to break all three kids out of the house for a stroll to the park. I took them by myself, pushed Coen in his stroller and the older two rode their bikes. Our local park is only about two blocks away, so this felt like a very safe distance for a first outing…alone…with three kids.
My first mistake was my optimism. That is probably the first and last time you will ever hear me say that optimism is a mistake. You see, I was over here thinking, “Gee this will be so fun, and I’m sure Coen will fall asleep in the stroller, I just changed him, we need nothing more than a burp rag!” My rose colored glasses must have been on that day people! Coen screamed the WHOLE WAY. If you know Coen or have been following along more than a few weeks you understand and are nodding your head that, yes, that sounds exactly like Coen. But he was only a few weeks old and I didn’t know this yet.
When we got to the park I was already exhausted, stressed, and nervous about being at the park after all the screaming. Then I took him out and tried to nurse and bounce him around a bit. A few minutes later, that’s when I smelled it. The smell. You know, that awful smell of newborn baby poo. And it was coming out of the diaper, all over his clothes, all over my arm, and all over my shirt! Please remember the above statement when all I brought was a burp rag. I didn’t have so much as a baby wipe! Total and utter chaos. I rounded up my older two kids and speed walked/pushed that stroller as fast as I could home. Mind you, he also screamed the whole way home.
Fast forward to last month and I was having a particularly hard day of running errands in Springfield with Coen. He had been fairly fussy all day and was just not happy with anything I tried. Normally I would just go home and “reset” but on this particular day, it just wasn’t an option. As we were walking into the third store, this sweet lady came up and asked him what was the matter and he literally just glared and howled at her like he was a dying goat.
Right as we were near the check out, he cried out in pain and that’s when I realized…he must have been having some digestion issues. He must have been backed up. Then I feel wetness all over my arm and his jeans. (Doesn’t this story sound so familiar?) So, while holding a crying, massive toddler, I manage to push my cart full of goods near the check out and told a lady working, “I need to go to the car, can I please leave this cart here?” Then I bolted out of there.
Thank goodness, I had everything I needed for this incident in the car and he was so much happier once we were changed and back inside. Until he decided he wanted to eat a banana and hold an avocado at the same time. Then all heck broke lose all over again. When I took the avocado to give him the banana the goat bit started all over again.
These days are rough! Let’s call a bad day what it is…it is a BAD DAY. There is no sugar coating it, the rose glasses cannot fix the bad day, most of the time our husbands and a glass of wine can’t even fix the bad day. One thing I have learned though, is the bad day doesn’t last. It may be a 48 hour all day and nighter, but at some point—we get some sleep, a shower, a hot meal, and have some time away with a friend. Between these moments when our hair is matted with spit up and we cannot for the life of us figure out where that smell is coming from—somehow, we just keep taking baby steps forward. There is a cute little smile, a first step, a friend who brings a hot meal, or maybe even a real date night out. But the blowouts always come back. Often, we think they will outgrow it, we might put the rose colored glasses back on for a bit and think we are in the clear. And then out of nowhere, there is that wet feeling and that awful smell again. Between these moments we have to take inventory. We have to learn. Even for our third child.
A part of me that day at the park thought, “Oh, I know this by heart.” I didn’t. Note: NEVER leave the house without baby wipes, NEVER. What I am getting at is, as parents—we never stop learning. We don’t just get to a point where we know ALL the things, are prepared for any mishap, can roll with every punch. We have to keep learning, adapting, changing, reassessing, seeking advice, spending time in thoughtful reflection, and most of all using GRACE to handle these situations. That day in the park, I needed to give myself some serious grace. That day at the store, I needed to give Coen some serious grace. Grace has a way of acting as a soothing balm to help us navigate the difficult situations we face as parents.
So, there you go friends, my advice to you…between the spitups and the blowouts is—don’t ever stop learning or giving out grace like crazy.