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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Worst Mom Day Ever

There will be days as a mother that you look down at your (probably) sleeping baby and wonder if you were ever truly happy before becoming a mom. The days your child throws their arms around you and tells you they love you--or thanks you for something as simple as making a favorite meal--you may swear that you've never known greater fulfillment or joy.

And then there will be other days: days you look at your offspring and think, "WTF?" It's the bad days no one warns you about.

The day I developed mastitis and my right breast swelled to the size of my head, I thought I’d experienced my worst day as a mom. For any of you non-lactating people out there, mastitis is a crazy painful inflammation of breast tissue caused by a plugged milk duct accompanied by redness, fever, and body ache.

I didn’t experience the condition of boob abscess meets swine flu until baby #3, despite having nursed my first two biological children for thirteen months each—the oldest inadvertently until I discovered like a tiny alcoholic she was secreting a few drinks in the dead of night while everyone else in the house, including me, was fast asleep—and having (or have not) nursed my nephew on at least one occasion when I became convinced his mother was trying to wean him at the age of two months over the course of a half-hour shopping trip. When he wouldn’t stop screaming, my milk let down. You non-lactators may not be aware, but a nursing woman’s milk “let down” can be triggered by the cries of any baby (and possibly any small mewling animal) within earshot, the smell of Johnson & Johnson baby lotion, and chest contact with any object or substance with a surface temperature greater than 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

The evening I sat in the most intense pain I’d experienced outside of childbirth, trying to nurse a fussy five-month old who didn't understand why she wasn’t being offered a second course, I couldn’t imagine a worse day of motherhood.

(The Milk Thief Today. Good Hair. Great Teeth. Clearly, it did her well.)

(Boob Squad. That's my nephew on the left. He turned out alright, considering I only ever fed him the one time.)

Then came a day our entire family will never, ever forget: a day we refer to as PukeFest 2008.

The day of PukeFest 2008 began innocently enough. We spent a few hours visiting a cousin's family and later watching the kids play in the indoor playground of a burger restaurant. Late that afternoon, we said our goodbyes and loaded into the minivan for the two-hour ride home. It was as the last light faded from the sky and the van was plunged into darkness that we heard the first tiny heave.

I've never been sure if it was car sickness or some super-charged stomach bug lapped up by my five-year-old as he crawled and slobbered his way through the majestic plastic tunnels of the Newnan, Georgia Burger King PlayPlace. Looking back, what I do know is that his vomiting spread through our magically shrinking mini-van faster than a Kardashian selfie on Twitter. I’ll never forget sliding the side door open in an attempt to reach and render aid to my ick-covered youngest son only to be met with a river of half-digested milkshakes and Whopper Jrs from the mouths of his ten and thirteen year-old brothers. We rode home, in the dead of winter, with all the windows open. It didn't help much. The boys threw up another two or three times. Each time my husband, who has the gag reflex of a newborn, would have to stop, get out, and walk around the van a few times as he attempted to draw in giant breaths of fresh, vomit-free air. It took us almost three hours to get home. I shampooed the upholstery until late into the night. PukeFest 2008 was a Sucky Mom Day, for sure.

Those other “bad” days have paled in comparison, however, to a more recent experience. And although none of my children were even present for the event, rest assured they deserve 100% of the blame for the day now know as my Worst Mom Day Ever.

So, here it is:  I pissed my pants at the public library. In front of my entire writers’ group. I’m not talking about “I coughed and wet myself.” I freaking peed my pants. And then continued to do so the duration of the drive home.

Yes, there was coughing involved—I’d had a cold for a couple of weeks that was revived with a vengeance when I aspirated some barbecue sauce slurped off a cocktail weenie at the library's Christmas Party for which I was in attendance—but I’m placing my unfortunate incontinence on the shoulders of the human passengers that sat atop my bladder for a combined total of twenty-seven months. They did this to me!

For years my sister and I have cackled at our own poor mother, who’s basically asked us to huddle with her over a toilet if we feel the need to tell a funny story. We’ve taken turns bouncing our grown asses in her lap as she laughs and screams, threatening all the while to kill us if we make her pee in her favorite suede recliner. But I think we may have both finally learned our lesson.

My younger sister has often attributed our mother’s weak bladder to excess weight. Similarly, she has correlated her own fitness with an iron bladder. All that changed a couple of weeks ago when she pulled into our parents’ driveway to find our mother awkwardly trying to heave our brother’s wheelchair into her SUV. Like a good daughter, Little Sister sprang into action to help. She and our mother squatted to lift the chair with their knees, but it wasn’t long before our mother’s bladder felt the strain and she began to, as she put it, “empty herself all the way up." In response to this event, Little Sister began to convulse with laughter so violently that she too, for the very first time in her adult life, peed her pants. I pulled into the driveway to find them both bent double, their knees clasped tightly together, and my sister panting over and over again, “I’m peeing. I’m peeing. Right now. I’m peeing!” I peed a little too. And there we all stood, like a family of knock-kneed imbeciles watering the gravel.

Still, my embarrassment on that day had been confined to those women closest to me. The "library incident" was different. There were so many witnesses—though some of them may have merely attributed my dashing from the room as just more weird introvert, writer behavior.

I’m convinced that no amount of Kegel exercises could have saved me. I’m religious about those suckers. I have a three hour commute every work day, after all, and nothing better to do at all those red lights along Hwy 280. I can tell you that the lady garden isn’t gettin’ any complaints. But it didn’t save me.

 Perhaps if I’d been sitting when the flood gates opened I would have had more control of my faculties, but when “it” happened I was hovering over a sandwich tray choking on honey barbecue.

I’m not letting the little beasties off the hook for this one. They owe me!

Perhaps I’ll repay them by visiting their houses when I’m old and pretending to sneeze as I soil their living room furniture. Or maybe I’ll just sucker punch them in the chest before gorging on fast food and demanding to be taken on a two-hour car ride along Alabama and Georgia’s curviest back roads. I’ll think of something. Until then, I'll try to remember the good days: those days I was so in love with them and hadn't thought twice about an adult diaper commercial.

*After reading this post, Little Sister has asked me to inform my readership that there may or may not have been some flatulence associated with our mother's power squat that contributed to Little Sister's unfortunate accident. She also wants it noted that it was of the "road hog variety and not the less innocuous unicorn sneeze variety" she prides herself on. Mother denies she pooted.

**Please note that I do not take lightly or seek to marginalized any mother who has suffered true and enduring pain as a parent. Those who have children facing life-threatening illnesses or situations or those who have lost a child to some tragedy have surely experienced worse days. My anecdotes are not intended to offend.