Important-er than a diaper

Ben, photo by Jen Downer (http://www.shesawthings.com)


He was crying on the green couch the other night.

I had yelled– don’t remember why — something about the bathtub and the Oreo cookie Nico had snuck into it and then submerged, little spongy bits of Oreo floating throughout the tub.

But I think it was later, when I tried to put Nico in a diaper, chasing his warm, pink, little naked body around the house. My meager attempt to strap on the diaper before he did his ritual, stealth pee somewhere in our home. It’s a lucky day when it shows up on the hardwood floor (less lucky when he makes it to the rug) and I can usually clean it up before he does another lap around the house and slips into said pool of pee, careening across the living room floor.

It sounds funny, right?

But I could feel it, the rage increasing, the boiling blood, the out-of-control feeling. I could feel it in the way I pinned him down, harder that I wanted to, to get the diaper on, while he wriggled out of my grasp.

And all the while, Ben was whining from the tub crying out for me, “I want to get out!!!” and I’m calling back, “Just a minute!” all sweet and crazy-mommy like, “just a minute honey…” but then I abandoned that nonsense and started barking, “Just wait a fricking minute!!! I’m trying to get Nico in a diaper!”

Sweating, I finish sealing Nico — who immediately sprints off — and I come to collect the whining Ben out of the tub. I wrap him in his favorite towel and mutter something about how I need to take a breath and how I just got really frustrated back there. And now he is sitting with me on the green couch and crying because I’ve yelled at him. Did I mention that? I yelled at him somewhere in there and now I am holding him and apologizing and feeling terrible and he is saying, “But I’m importanter! I’m importanter than a diaper!” and I’m nodding “Yes, yes, you are right. You are much more importanter than a diaper.”

And then I see Nico, naked, running by.

And I can either laugh or cry. And I really wish I could tell you I laughed, but I did not.

And thank god children live in the moment, because they will have forgotten about this mess, this yelling, while I will hang onto it, measuring, judging, weighing — Am I a good mother? Can I yell and still be a good mother? Is it okay if I apologize? Have I already blown it? Is Nico going to remember, somewhere in his tiny cells, all those times I shoved him into the carseat?

This is what I am learning to be with these days. How incredibly flawed and human and not-at-all perfect I am. I’m learning to have compassion for myself and how hard this is and how to make amends and show up again and again. Heart full of love, wanting to do my best.

59 Comments

  1. Leah
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    thank you. thank you for reminding me we are all human and we all do our best each day. for reminding me to have compassion for myself when i am less-than-perfect – aka HUMAN. thank you

  2. chris
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to the club! ha, ha. One day I was leaving school with my son and happened to overhear one of the “perfect” mothers just griping to her kids in a really agitated voice, “I said NO! We do NOT have the money!” Ahhhh…it is always a relief to hear these types of conversations coming from those folks who appear so perfect whenever they are out in public. I know I am not alone!

  3. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Andrea. You are not alone. I’ve been there, many times. Those things get easier as the kids get older. Remember to ask for help when you need it and give yourself time-outs. I used to go into my room and scream into a pillow (after telling the kids what I was up to). xo

  4. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Oh thank you! I’m sure we all have ideals, an image of the mother we “should” be and that surely every other mother “is”…and it’s so easy to beat ourselves up over “yet another instance of falling short”. Thank you for the reminder that we are HUMAN not robots. So often kids just seem to know when we’re hanging on by a thread…and then they push that button that pushes us over the edge:-)And yes, we react, because again WE’RE HUMAN

  5. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Andrea. You have always shared truths here but what you have shared with us recently about parenting, whew. Big stuff. Big stuff that I think all of us mothers can relate to. Thanks for making the crazy mom in me (I just had a “can’t you just take a freaking nap now? please?” moment earlier today) feel not quite so alone. Thank you. And he will forget. You are their superhero.

  6. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Human indeed. I had a mini meltdown this morning – I don’t have young children and it was in front of the roadside assistance guy. Go figure!

    Grace and blessings on us all!

  7. Paula J.
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    thank you for sharing this! I have so been there, my friend.

  8. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Oh I can’t stand how much I love you…how much I need your honesty to help me along soothing my own sweet and imperfect mama heart back to picking up the pieces and choosing to try again and again and again.

    Much love, Lisa

  9. Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. And it does get easier when they get a little older. And then they get to be teenagers and it gets impossible. I’m told, if everyone lives until they are 25, it’ll get easier again. Until then, I apologize a lot and pray a lot (not necessarily in that order). Thanks again for sharing. It does help to know there are others who work at it every day.

    Blessings! Lori

  10. Christie
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Been there! Done that! We are all human,and imperfect. We’ve all heard the saying “raising children is the hardest job” and it is the truth. Being a mother is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I hope that my crazy moments of imperfectness with our children is outweighed by all my love. I love your blog- you’re awesome!

  11. Posted September 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this, Andrea. I can so totally relate…doing my best, showing up day after day no matter what. Some days are better than others. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay, that I am doing my best, that I am human and imperfect, that I also need to be kind to myself. You’re a superhero!

  12. janet
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I love you because you keep it real and true…and sometimes it’s hard all we can do is all we can do!

  13. Posted September 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    gah they will SO forget all of that. apparently all you have to be is 80% good parent and you are a good parent. losing it, admitting it, and saying sorry and making amends is a much better example to the little ones than some crazy arsed perfect always smiling perfecto mom. as long as losing it doesn’t involve actually thrashing them of course. we have to hang on to some levels of control.

  14. Posted September 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I so could have written this, though not nearly as eloquently. I’ve had nearly identical moments this week. Thank you so so much for sharing this.

  15. Michelle C
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I can so relate to this. And I, too, have to keep telling myself that we’re all (all of us moms) going through this and doing our best. Losing it and getting it back. It makes us human, and I think that is important for our children to see, too, right?

  16. Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Tra! La! La! Just another day in the neighborhood. This piece is fresh out of the oven my dear! I can practically still smell the ink! Look how beautiful this mess can be! Love it!

  17. Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    This strikes such a chord of recognition. Thanks for this post. It’s par for the course in parenting, my logic and experience says that, but in the moment it’s a strange and awful feeling to be so overwhelmed and absolutely done. And to not make the “right” choice. But then we get to try again. And again. And there’s a great lesson to our kids in the effort of trying again differently another time. I hope that’s the lasting bit … I’m pretty sure it is, cause I remember more goodness and “importanterness” from my momma than the yelly bits!

  18. Michelle C
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I know I already commented but just after that, I went back to reading “Daring Greatly” and this line jumped out at me:
    “Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time.”
    Amen Brene!

  19. Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for being so vulnerable with all of us and sharing this. I desperately needed to hear this. I know all parents don’t have it together all of the time, but in those moments I feel like I’m the only one who loses their patience or feels overwhelmed and that I should be better, stronger, calmer, etc. Thank you for reminding me that we are human and flawed but that it doesn’t change the depth of our love for our kids and we are doing our very best. Your posts always bring me such peace and I’m am so grateful!

  20. Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing and making yourself vulnerable, once again, Andrea. You always remind me that you can be beautiful and good and imperfect all at the same time. Because you SHINE with light and if you can have a day like this, then I know it’s ok that I do too.

  21. Tracey (sparkyd)
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Whew yeah. Can totally relate to this. Almost made me cry I can relate so perfectly. Thanks for putting this out there. Big hugs to all of us.

  22. marilyn
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    the young mother inside me nearly sobbed with the remembering of those days when i doubted myself and didnt trust my parenting. the grandmother that houses this body now sort of chuckled. it all works out. somehow. it just does, when you show up every day with your heart and your best. our imperfections make us perfect, methinks. kinda

  23. nina
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    I remember. And in their adolescence and teen years they will snap and yell at you. When mine do that, I wonder if they didn’t learn it from me. Of course they did! They learned it from all the humans out there. By the LOVE is always there, and they know that, too, sweet mama.

  24. Katrina
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    For myriad reasons, we don’t have children. But my partner and I, we do just what you have described to each other – we lose it, hold on to it, scream, rant, shove, pull, hate, resent, all of it. We’re full grown women, loving, intelligent, healers, artists, best friends, committed, aware, awake … and we still do this over and over. It’s never, ever for lack of love. And that’s what matters. We’ve said ‘yes’ to all of it, all of each other, just as you and your kids have said ‘yes’ too. Whether we’re parents, children, partners, friends … whatever the connection, we love each other through it, we don’t prove ourselves through it all. And we’ve got to love ourselves through it all too. You and your boys are amazing, earthy and real and wise – a heartfelt thank you for sharing this Andrea.

  25. Kathy kenney
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    I, too, raised that little boy who refused to get in the stroller, the diaper, the car seat, or anywhere else I needed him to go. Does it help to know they do grow up to be kind, gentle men with no memory of their years of terror?

  26. Diane
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    I am right there with you sister! I remember when my boys were little I would have to stand over my son, hunched over in the car, with my hands on the little bones of his hips and push down with all my might to get him locked into that car seat, with him screaming and pushing back the whole time. good times, man. good. times.

  27. Kris
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    I called my 4-year-old son a little asshole today. *hangs head in shame* He has autism & was being a beast . . . but still.

    Some days it’s really hard. THANK YOU for being another honest voice in the world. It helps tremendously to know that we’re not in the trenches alone, especially in our moments of colossal screw ups.

  28. Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Honey, you have just summed up my week.
    My three year old daughter has been unwell and it has pushed every button I have. I have shouted, cried, hated myself, hated everyone, prayed I could swap my life for someone else’s.
    Today, I am showing up. I feel like an empty rag, and I can hardly remember who I am and what it is that makes my heart sing, but I am here nonetheless.
    Sometimes that’s all we can say, isn’t it?

  29. Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    PS I forgot to thank you for capturing this all so beautifully here. That is most definitely one of your super-est important-est superpowers.

  30. Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    You’re my freakin’ hero.

  31. Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this post. Exactly what I needed to read at the end of a long day of struggle (and as my 2.5 year old cries for me in the other room as my husband tries to get her to bed because I’m. Just. Done.).

  32. Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    So funny that I came across this post at this moment in time. My 21-month-old daughter just grabbed my cup of tea off the coffee table and spilt the entire cup all over cushions. Did I mention that I’m trying to do a uni assignment that I have to submit today? Did I mention that she was playing nicely in her room while I was doing this? Did I mention that I lost it – my patience and my train of thought and am feeling horribly muddled right now (thus the procrastination). Thank you for reminding me I am not alone.

  33. Mariella
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    You’re rockin’ it, girlfriend! Another gem of a post!! You’ve described such a familiar scene…have you been peeking through my living room window?! ;) oh, and the “all sweet and crazy-mommy like” was right on. I had to giggle at myself. Thank youuu!! xoxo

  34. Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    my two little guys are about the same age…i get it, i have been there, i go there, and i too rack myself with the same doubt, worry and frustration at the end. i completely understand, andrea. you are not alone. xx

  35. Lois
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    This sounds SO familiar from when my now grown kids were that age… I clearly remember a moment when I gave myself permission to get angry at them, because I realized I CAN’T be the Only One who gets angry at their kids… and paradoxically, this helped me lighten up and not get angry quite as much. I wonder if maybe it was because my anger at them wasn’t being compounded by my anger at myself.

  36. Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Right there with you sister and thank you for being so damn brave! Your vulnerability is showing and I’m relieved to see the beauty of realness here.

  37. Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I feel you. Yes, one of my most important lessons ever -the boys are more important than any task at hand. It reminds me of my almost four year old son the other day when I wasn’t being present. He saw me playing with his one year old brother and had called my name a few times and got “hold on” a few times. He marched up to me and said, “You’re not being my Mommy!” So true. They are such wonderful teachers!!

  38. Jenny
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Oh boy, do I have those days. And then others that are so joyous and easy (if I dare use that word). I so appreciate that I can read your writing that is honest and deep. And, thank you for the reminder to be compassionate and forgiving to ourselves. It is so beautiful and honorable and HARD to be a mother.

  39. Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    It is SUCH an act of love when moms share their imperfect moments. Thank you.

  40. rachael
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh. My. God. Thank you so much for this. Have you been sitting in my brain? Spying through the windows of my house? I very much needed to read this today. Thank you for this gift of yourself and your vulnerability.

  41. bronwyn
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have children, but I have care taken for many children since becoming an adult. The one thing that I have taken away from my experiences is that it is completely engaging – you need to be ON, all the time. It seems completely understandable to me that if you’re the parent that SOMETIMES, because you can’t give them back, your patience will wear thin.
    to acknowledge this I think makes you a more compassionate human being.
    thank you for sharing. thank you for bringing up two very sweet souls. it seems to me that you are doing a wonderful job – look at those sparkles in ben’s eyes!

    peace. xx

  42. Richelle
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog post. You are brave and awesome and inspiring.

  43. Candyce
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    You are not alone at all!
    You are so right on about kids living in the moment. The other morning, I got completely frustrated with my daughter about taking too much time over breakfast. We were going to be late! So I kept hurrying her, practically shoving her out the door and into the car, barely stopping to say goodbye or give her a kiss on the forehead. It worried me all day at work, thinking about how upset she must’ve been that I didn’t give her a long goodbye or tell her how much I loved her, would miss her, etc. When I hugged her that afternoon, after we got home from work and school, I told her that I was sorry I got so upset that morning. She said, “Um, what? What are you even talking about? You’re just being silly.”

  44. Posted September 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh, my sweet dear, mama. You are perfectly perfect. My boy had tantrums that shook the house, I thought I would lose my mind. And sometimes I did. But now, he is 19, 6 feet 3 inches and loves me with all of his heart. I am certain that sometimes, I did not show that he was “more importanter than a diaper…” Yet, he loves me just the same. You are a sweet, loving mama. Don’t forget that!

  45. Posted September 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    You know, you are teaching your littles that they don’t have to be perfect. This is a HUGE gift you are giving them.
    You, are teaching them something important about loving others and loving themselves.
    By being imperfect, screwing up in small, NORMAL ways, making amends, (and here’s the important part- )giving yourself GRACE, forgiveness, and then letting it go, you teach your littles they get to make mistakes, they get to have triumphs. You teach them how to make amends, and how to let go. You give them the confidence to be REAL, to be imperfect, and all the freedom and joy that comes with our lives.

    You are a wonderful mother.

    You all really do need to come watch the fireflies at the river next summer.

  46. Posted September 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    So have been there, done that. So many times. Are you a good mother? “Heart full of love, wanting to do my best.” I think that says it ALL.

  47. Sandra
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Andrea. I think maybe I have never felt you realer than this post. Honestly, I can so relate. The rage, the love, the intense desire to do it well. You are beautiful. Thank you for this.

  48. Posted September 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    “Am I a good mother? Can I yell and still be a good mother?”

    Yes and yes. I think it’s my job to show my kids that people laugh and dance and sing when they’re happy; cry and eat chocolate and potato chips at the same time, maybe, when they’re sad; and even the most gentle of us will be snappy when we’re exasperated.

    I’m a fantastic mama and I yell a little. :)

  49. Posted September 15, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    this made me laugh (because it wasn’t me this time) and made me cry at the same time. you struck something in me and i’m thankful it’s not just me. thank you for being so brave!

  50. Sarah
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    The first thing that came to my mind was a lock – up high on the door – so Nico can’t get out until he is diapered AND jammied. My heart goes out to you, because I do understand the level of frustration that a child can cause. Good luck with the night time routine. Yes, it will all be a distant memory someday.

  51. Posted September 15, 2012 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Incredibly empowering honesty. Another post that made me gasp from your true wonderfulness…

  52. Posted September 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    “Heart full of love, wanting to do my best.”

    This slayed me,
    for this is what I hope in all the messy, mayhem of blooming small children they take away most!

  53. Joy
    Posted September 16, 2012 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    My kids are 2 & 4.5 and I totally could see this happening in my house! Glad to hear I’m not alone. :)

  54. Erin
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Just saw this quote and thought of you and this post:
    “How easy it is to be cruel when afraid, and how difficult it is to accept that we are all capable of terrible things, and how cleansing it is to realize that true kindness breathes just beneath this acceptance.”
    - Mark Nepo

    Also remembering back to a long-ago post where you talked about being at a park with a friend, seeing a mama meltdown and yell at her kiddo… and while your friend was feeling bad for the kiddo, you were empathizing compassionately with the mama.

    Thanks for keepin in real sista!

  55. Trish
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I have been there and will be doing it again. I said ‘Mama just needs a minute’ “Everyone just give me a minute”. Swears usually interspersed. Working on that with a swear job.

    You are seen, heard and always loved by me,
    Trish

  56. Nattie
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I needed to read this story Andrea, thank you:) We are not perfect and should not be expected to be, especially when we’re just trying to be superheroes, damn it!

  57. colette
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, thank you so much for posting this. I am so deeply ashamed of my moments like this. I have only been able to share about them with a very few people, and one, a dear friend who is not a mama, sent me a link to this post. I cried and cried. It is so important to me to know I am not alone, that someone else is trying their best and feels this way sometimes, and I am not the Worst Mother In the World. (ANd that my childless friend can relate to me and hold me, in my light and shadowy parts.) Thank you for this brave post, I am grateful.

  58. Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Thank you: From one good mother to another. Yelling. Reconginsing the yelling. Recognising the feeling bad at the yelling. Remorse. Love. Care. Tenderness. Being Human………

  59. Michelle
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Gorgeously written my friend. I think many hearts have been healed with the post. We are all in this together, Yo! Please do not stop me if you see ME streaking by,buck naked from mommy insanity. I need THAT kind of break :). I’m a little jealous of nico right now :). I would be flinging my children’s insane amount of homework behind me during my “run”. Homework is a whole other kind of mommy fun. Oh yea!

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Beautiful Faces. Magical Places. — Hannah Marcotti on September 15, 2012 at 2:03 am

    [...] These moments can make you feel so alone until someone full of bravery talks about them. We are so not alone here mamas. [...]

  2. By Sunday reads « Abigail B. Vint on September 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    [...] 2 – Important-er than a diaper [...]

  3. By Parenting H on October 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    […] http://www.superherolife.com/2012/09/important-er-than-a-diaper/ […]

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