At some point it WILL get you. You can’t hide. Nowhere is safe and it could strike at any time. But if you want to be on your guard, consider that it usually happens when you are least expecting it, when you are on your own and solely responsible for the well-being of tiny humans, and at least in my case, the second you get cocky and pour yourself an early evening glass of wine (should have known better).
Yesterday, the domestic bomb of shittiness exploded in our house and took no prisoners. Be warned that it can take on many different forms and works in endless ways, but the end result is almost always household carnage, destruction and loss of the will to live. I should probably elaborate. Picture the scene:
It’s 4.30pm. The baby is finishing a power-nap, the three year old is happy, angelic even. All is calm. Your husband leaves for work. Ok so you might not have a shift-working husband, but the law of sod is an actual thing, and it will dictate that you will be on your own, somehow. You set the eldest up with some activities (hand him the iPad) and head to the kitchen to cook dinner. You are every bit in control: you have macaroni on the stove and vegetables roasting slowly in the oven. You momentarily even feel like a ‘real mom’, no longer faking it. You leave dinner to do its thing while you wake the baby, poking your head in on the older one as you go: easy. Easy except you return to the lounge, baby in your arms, to find that the three year old, who has been dry since day two of potty training, is standing soaked to the skin in a puddle of his own pee. Don’t be fooled, the bomb is yet to strike. This is simply a precursor, testing the waters.
Somehow you clean him up and salvage the carpet, then sit him and his brother at the table for dinner. You breathe deeply, shrugging it off and pour yourself a glass of red. You’ve earned it after all? You take a sip, calmness returning in slow waves. Said calmness, however, is abruptly and cruelly snatched away as the eldest pushes his plate away, breathy and frantic sobs filling the air. He doesn’t want his dinner. You tell him calmly it’s ‘yummy macaroni’, his favourite, then ask yourself inwardly if and when the ‘selfish A’hole phase’ of childhood will come to an end. Eventually you give up trying to coax/bribe him and endeavor not to worry over it. He’s most likely overtired from a busy day at nursery and anyway, it’s time for the Cbeebies bedtime hour – a sign that the end is in sight. You sit your red-eyed threenager on the sofa with a cup of milk while you return to the baby to scrape the post-dinner fallout from his face, lap, clothes, highchair, the floor and the walls. It’s quiet next door, you notice. Silent almost. There is nothing more petrifying than a silent three year old. You shiver.
You go to check on him, heart racing, and enter the room to find a scene from the exorcist. Surveying the damage, you realise the domestic bomb of shittiness has now well and truly landed, this time in the form of one ginormous puke, piled high and spanning the child, sofa, cushions, teddies and even sodding TV remote. The baby is screaming next door. The threenager looks up at you: sad, puppy dog, ‘help me’ eyes searching and waiting for you to do something. His eyes fill up and now he is crying too. You weigh up your options, wondering whether to laugh, cry with them, hide in the garden shed with the remains of your barely touched bottle of wine and some gin for good measure, or all three. Eventually you come to your senses and drag the baby through the house in his high-chair and stick him in front of the clangers with an old box of raisins. You strip the three year old and sit him on the baby’s changing mat to prevent further ‘spread’ and go to fetch kitchen roll and cleaning supplies from the kitchen. Except you have no kitchen roll. You always have kitchen roll. You can’t get through a day without it. But today, you just don’t. You spot your neighbour over the fence and if you are lucky, like me, they will come to your rescue with supplies. You would hug them of course, but you’re covered in sick.
I’ll spare you the details of the clean-up operation, but it’s grim. A lifetime of scrubbing and scraping later and you wonder if you and your house will ever feel clean again and whether any amount of anti-bac, soapy water and vanish will do. The sofa, especially, is a right-off. You’ve just finished paying for it, so of course it is! You attempt to unsheathe the cushions from their covers to stop any ‘soak through’, but they are packed in so tight you have to hold them between your legs and tug with all your might, grunting as you go. The neighbors could be forgiven for thinking you are giving birth again.
“It’s ok mommy” your sick child reassures you.
“Time to get a grip”, you think.
Finally the cushions break free and the covers are off, spraying you with this morning’s breakfast as they go.
Clean up operation almost complete, you go to fetch ‘The Bowl’. You sit your sick child down and explain to them about ‘The Bowl’ in four different ways just to be sure they understand. You finish optimistically with
“and if you need to be sick sweetie, where should you do it?”
“in the bowl Mommy” he replies.
And you pop momentarily into the kitchen to return the cleaning supplies. When you come back though, naturally, everything is covered again. Everything that is except the bowl.
You mop up the worst and will deal with the rest after bathtime you tell yourself. Ordinarily you’d bath both of your children together. But you don’t want the baby to catch the sick bug so you leave him to play with some toys by the side of the bath while you clean up the eldest. Toys schmoys, he WANTS the potty. It’s the most exciting thing he’s seen all day and possibly, ever. Panting like a puppy dog, he crawls towards it at speed. You pick him up and redirection him a million times, hiding the potty behind the towel basket. Of course eventually he wins and gets his hands in, and now the baby needs antibacing too. Almost an hour of the usual bedtime shenanigans and sleep fighting from the smallest later and you are finally rewarded with two sleeping little ones and the sweet taste of freedom. Just the night to go.
And that can’t possibly be as bad as the evening, can it?