So Maeve’s had a nasty stomach virus for a couple days. This involves lots of fluids, lots of hugs, lots of schedule-juggling for her folks, and many, many more diaper changes than should even be legal. And it’s during those times of tushy-wiping that I’ve had some time to think. (Who knows, maybe this is when I get my best thinking done.)
Don’t get me wrong, spending time home with Maeve, even a virus-laden Maeve, is absolutely my all-time favorite thing to do. Between sharing loads of wonderful cuddles, building oh-so-impressive towers of blocks together only for her to howl with laughter as she swipes her little arms through them, and offering innumerable recitations of her most beloved books (Thank you, Sandra Boynton for those lovable hippos and their silly pajamas, those belly-buttoned hippos in their undersized bikinis and the big and tiny, smooth and spiny dinosaurs crammed in an elevator), this mama has had some major diaper duty.
And those that know me know I am not a girl who likes to talk bodily fluids or functions. They’re “Unmentionable.” That’s the word I use in conversation and these folks know to use the context of the conversation to figure out what I mean. Call me crazy, I don’t care. (And by the way, all you naysayers were wrong: Becoming a mom has not somehow enabled me with the ability to talk in the Language of Bodily Fluids, which includes, much to my dismay, matters of color, texture and frequency. Nope. Hasn’t happened.) None of this is cool to me. None of it is even remotely comfortable for me.
Since I have been changing so many diapers, I got to thinking about one morning a couple months ago when my daughter gave me a special gift. I’d written it down then to share with a friend via email and, since I’m deep in diapers these days, it seems like the perfect time to share it with you. Here goes:
This was my morning greeting from little Maeve, the girl who is sunshine on my cloudy days, sugah in my coffee of life, a bright light in a dark … well, you get the idea. I was running late (what’s new about that, you ask? Well, read on, read on) and Maeve was awfully quiet in her crib. I knew she was awake because she was playing the music on her cribside aquarium toy.
But most mornings in her crib she is in deep conversation with herself, cooing, babbling, laughing, singing “Tinkle, tinkle dada tar.” Not today. This should have been a clue.
Since I was running late, I happily accepted her silent solitude while I hurried around getting myself together for the day. Finally, about 15 minutes behind schedule, I went into Maeve’s room to greet her. It’s always such a precious time — her face beams with excitement at seeing me and then she peers over my shoulder to see if a kitty cat has accompanied me. So today as I pushed open the door in my usual fanfare, I found her standing at the far end of her crib, her big doe eyes looking larger than usual and guilt-ridden, like I had just caught her trying to climb out her bedroom window into the arms of her heavily-tattooed, much-older boyfriend. (I’m almost wishing that had been the case. Almost.)
She had no diaper on. Now, I know that Tom and I get tired at night, but I know we put her to bed with a diaper. After scanning the area, I see the diaper cast aside at the other end of the crib. As she continued to stare (in slow motion of course, because that is exactly how this scenario happened — no, really, the entire morning occurred in slow motion, I am sure of it) I noticed — and you must excuse my grossness here, if you are eating or drinking or even thinking of eating or drinking anytime in the next, say 24 hours, please stop reading — sitting on the yellow chenille carpet on which I had envisioned hours of frolicking and frivolity when I bought it, was a pile, a dark, um, pile of — I can’t even bring myself to type it. Let’s just say that in the dead of night or dawn of day she managed to take off her diaper and toss its contents over the crib railing. Right onto the rug, in a pile, like a little gift, like a cat leaving a dead mouse for its owner. And since it’s not my birthday, I guess I’m just one lucky mama.
I stood there, aghast, my eyes moving across the room taking in the picture painted before me. I was shocked. Not mad, of course, because, bless her poopy little heart, how does she know that What’s in the Diaper, Stays in the Diaper? So I just stared, mouth open, while I composed myself and let the hopeful thoughts of Candid Camera enter my mind. No such luck. I don’t think the darn show’s been on the air for decades.
She contined to stare right back at me, all big-eyed. Neither of us moved. It was like the OK Corral, with whistling music and tumbleweed gently bouncing across her chenille carpet.
Who would move first?
She blinked. Literally. I swear I heard her eyelids move over her eyes. Ca-clink.
At this point I’m trying not to laugh. She takes the tiniest of tiny steps forward in the crib toward me (still standing in the doorway, unable to move). On a normal morning, she would have bounded toward me. After this Actual Baby Step, she ever so quietly, like barely audible, in the tiniest of whispers, with her big brown eyes still locked on me, said, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.”
All I could say as I forced myself into her room was, “Oh, Maeve. Oh, Maeve. Oh, Maeeeeve.”
Inside the crib there were more gifts, like an infomercial: “But wait, there’s more!” This kid is generous. Based on location of said “gifts,” I figure the crib gift was made after the diaper had met its demise. Like right there in the bed, on the sheets. Just willy-nilly, poopy-poopy everywhere.
She was reaching out to me now, with puckered lips and those darn doe eyes, practically begging me to pick her up, to rescue her from the field of fecality. But I was too grossed out. I wanted to step back. I wanted to, well, run. But I’m her mom, I argued with myself. This is what I have to do. This … is … what … moms … do.
So I plucked her from the crib only to realize her entire backside was also covered. I tried not to gasp too loudly — I didn’t want to scare the child. I just needed to get my bearings, to figure out how to place her on the changing table without making the mess worse. That, and I needed to boil my eyeballs and I’d be fine. She’d be fine. We’d be fine.
Mind you, the clock was still ticking, mocking me and my tardiness. I’d have to explain why I was late to work and this really wasn’t something I wanted to have to do. Out loud. To my boss.
I had to hurry.
So I took care of Maeve, cleaned the pile from the carpet and, as I headed out of the nursery, a giggling Maeve on my hip, I looked back at the crib and its sheets, still in their gooey glory.
Don’t “What!?” me. Come on, a girl can only take so much in one morning. The soiled crib would have to wait (for daddy to come home this afternoon and take care of it). After all, I was now really late.
And sharing is nice, right? Don’t we teach our children to share? So, call it role modeling on my part.
Even better, call it re-gifting. Yes, re-gifting.
What??? People do it all the time.