No One Prepares You for This Stuff

by Abby on April 4, 2012

Frazzled momSetting: My kitchen.

Time: 6:30pm on a typical weeknight.

Scenario: Something’s burning, someone’s bleeding, and someone’s crying. Simultaneously.

There are so many parts of parenthood I was not prepared for before I became a mom. Even now, almost 6 years in, there are days – multiple times a day even – when I think to myself, Where is the manual for this? The above scenario is a case in point.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident but sadly, it’s not. By a long shot. The specifics as to who’s crying and/or bleeding and what’s burning change from day to day, but the fact remains: chaos. It can erupt at any moment, without warning. And as the parent, you’re in charge. It’s YOUR job to fix it.

We had just come home from swimming lessons. Everyone was starving because children’s extracurricular activities are, as a rule, scheduled for the most inconvenient times imaginable. Want your kid to swim, dance, or play soccer? Then you must brave rush-hour traffic, low blood sugar, and irritable siblings for the privilege. Not to mention jeopardize prompt bedtimes and completed homework assignments.

So there I was, boiling pasta and sautéing shrimp as fast as possible – the garlic is what was burning that night – while my 3yo ran around with a bloody nose. He had sustained a mystery injury days earlier, when he skipped into the family room with 2 angry-looking cuts across his nose. What happened? we asked. I scraped my face, he replied. How? When? Why? We couldn’t get any straight answers. The pool had loosened the scabs and now his nose was bleeding. Again.

With a clatter of pans and plates, I unceremoniously announced that dinner was served. That’s when I noticed my 5yo was quietly sobbing into his stuffed animal. What happened? He refused to answer, besides sniffling, I’m thinking of something I don’t want to think about and I can’t stop thinking about it. Oh. Um, OK. Can you be more specific?

We finally dragged it out of him that the cartoon he’d been watching during his brother’s swimming lesson had, pardon my French, scared the crap out of him. I was irate. Like it’s not bad enough that the TV in the lobby of the swim club is ALWAYS on. On TWO screens. You CAN’T miss it. All the kids are glued to it, slack-jawed. (Even though we’re constantly being brow-beaten with admonishments to not let our kids watch too much TV.)

I’m no anti-TV crusader, but even I had noticed the TVs were tuned not to G-rated Nick Jr. or Disney but to the Boomerang channel, which was showing some kind of weird Japanese animation in which people were being turned into red-eyed evil robots by some diabolical machine. Well, THAT doesn’t seem appropriate, I remember thinking before chasing after my wet preschooler to keep him from careening into the vending machine as he ran, not walked, from the pool area to the locker rooms.

Come on, people. Is it not glaringly obvious that I have enough drama in my life without an unscripted bout of Post Traumatic Cartoon Syndrome?! Can we not get through a SINGLE DAY without blood or tears or facial injuries? Is that REALLY so much to ask?!

So here’s how it played out: We ate the shrimp and pasta, semi-burnt garlic and all. Then Dad distracted the traumatized child with a silly song while I called the swim club to complain. Politely, but firmly. Then we found some Neosporin and a Scooby Doo Band-Aid for the other one’s nose. We handled it. And life moved on. Until the next day’s drama.

THOUGHT O’ THE DAY: A friend of mine, a SAHM to 3 kids under 6, compares motherhood to being a triage nurse in the ER – you must quickly and calmly determine whose needs take priority at any given moment. Also, there’s lots of screaming and bodily fluids involved.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Pamela April 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

Great blog! I don’t have young ones at home now, but 5 little grandones all under the age of 4. I’m immersed in what you talk about here when I visit, and I love the energy, the chaos, the unpredictability, the love, and the fact that I can go home to my quiet little condo and read a book a few hours later. :+) Thanks!


Abby April 4, 2012 at 11:03 am

It’s so funny you say that, Pamela, because my mom is coming to visit this week and I know she feels the same way. I laugh when the kids are running around and she says, “This is chaos!” If there’s no blood or tears, that’s not chaos. 🙂


Ali April 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

Oh dear! But don’t you kind of feel like a champion at the end of the night, when you’ve survived it all (or am I just reaching here, on your behalf)? At least you know you’re not alone; my sister has two girls, and it’s always drama in that house.

I will pass on my sister’s wisdom: lock yourself in a bathroom and chuck toilet paper rolls at the walls. It lets out aggression without doing any major damage.


Abby April 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

LOL! I will try the TP thing. I like that. I don’t know about feeling like a champion – usually I feel like a wrung-out dishtowel – but I will say that if I ever doubted my stamina or performance under pressure, I certainly don’t any more!


neena April 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

Man, have I been there! You’re doing great, Mama!


Abby April 4, 2012 at 11:06 am

Thank you. That helps. 🙂


Brock Heasley April 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Oh boy. Those moments are chaos are truly the worst. Our usually involve poop, which is lovely. Sounds like you handled things well though. Nice work.


Abby April 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Funny you should say that. Today’s drama involved poop. :/


Stacy S. Jensen April 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm

My mother-in-law is on her way. So, I’m sure I’ll here “busy, busy” a lot this weekend. Your point about TV on at public places is priceless.


Abby April 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

Ah, nothing like parenting in front of your MIL. Good luck!


Angie Mizzell April 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

Oh dear, the AT&T guy will be here in 5 minutes (we’re switching from Comcast) and I specifically remember the sales rep boasting that we were going to get Boomerang. And it sounds so kid friendly!


Abby April 6, 2012 at 9:12 am

Don’t get me wrong, Boomerang has some great retro cartoons, like Pink Panther (M’s fave), the Jetsons & the Flintstones. But we only DVR the shows we know and fast-forward through the commercials. My 3yo even gets freaked out by the commercial for Scooby Doo!


Frume Sarah April 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Those stupid baby books don’t tell us about this part, do they? I like the comparison to a triage nurse. I’ll try and keep that in mind tomorrow 😉


Jennifer Fairman April 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm

OMG – I think you and I go to the same swim club (if it’s in Mt. Washington?) I know exactly what you mean (every time I see those shows, I think to myself, what ever happened to Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry?)


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