Here is the thing about being Maren’s Mom.
She is a super, super laid-back baby.
Well, let me clarify. She can poop like you wouldn’t even believe. She’s the world’s most dexterous pooper. I swear it ends up on both sides of her cloth diaper liner, somewhere on my carpet (did I mention we rent?) and also, miraculously, both on the back of her head and the bottom of her feet, but nowhere in between.
She also spends a good portion of her time working herself up to a good projectile vomiting. Projectile vomiting sounds bad, but witnessing it is so much scarier than the definition. One minute you’re hanging out with your adorable baby, feeding her a bottle, and in the next, she is suddenly floating three feet above your body, her head is spinning all the way around, puking everything she’s ever eaten in her life. And then a moment later she is back to lying peacefully in your arms, smiling and gurgling, and you are breathless, wide-eyed, and also covered in baby puke. It’s also the scariest thing you’ll ever witness that is, apparently, not really a big deal. Maren is what the baby books call a ‘happy spitter,’ meaning that she doesn’t get all fussy and worked up before she pukes up enough formula to keep an entire colony of babies alive. She simply opens her mouth, the fountains cometh, and then she closes her mouth again and its almost as if it never happened. I would wonder if I was imagining it, if it weren’t for the pungent and pervasive aroma of baby puke all over me.
But, even with those bodily functions, Maren is a pretty awesome baby. When she isn’t pooping or puking, or eating the fluids that she is about to poop or puke, she is mostly doing a lot of cooing and smiling and sucking on her hands. She could lie in her baby gym, looking at herself in the mirror for hours, as if she’s taking note of how adorable she is and how fast she is growing.
But here is the thing about being Maren’s mom. Even though she is always usually very happy, when she isn’t happy, boy howdy her Dad and I will move heaven and earth to fix it. Because this kid has some pipes on her. Did I mention that I once trained to be an opera singer? And did I mention that Mitch can out-yell an entire arena of rabid hockey fans? You should always think about these things before you reproduce. Because, as it turns out, loud plus loud equals REALLY EFFING LOUD.
In a related story, last week my in-laws brought us a portable washing machine. I sincerely hope that you have no idea how awesome this is. I hope that we are the only people I know who have ever lived with a newborn and no washing machine. I hope that we are the only people who know what baby poo smells like three days later, because we still haven’t washed the onesie because it isn’t laundry day. I hope that my husband is the only one who has spent his entire Saturday morning at the neighborhood laundry mat, fighting with fourteen people for the one dryer in the building that works. I hope that no one else has ever been so desperate for quarters that they ask their seventy five year old grandparents for the change out of their van as they are driving to Arizona. And if that last one seemed awfully specific, I would just like to say: DO YOU SEE WHAT I AM DEALING WITH HERE?
For the last week, we’ve been so giddy about having this washing machine that we’ve been prancing around just looking for things to wash. The minute Maren spits up on a shirt (hers or mine) I whip it off and put it in the washing machine. As soon as Mitch gets home from work, he gets naked and throws everything in the washing machine. For the last few days, we’ve looked for ways to say the words ‘washing machine’ as many times as possible so that we can remember and revel in the knowledge, once again, that we OWN A WASHING MACHINE.
Friday nights is just me and Maren, because Mitch is at school. He’s studying to be a chef, and Friday nights he spends his time learning how to gut chickens and make steaks out of a cow, while I am at home speaking baby talk and eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. I refer to this as ‘Girls Night’ and am looking forward to a time when Maren is grabbing a spoon and digging into the peanut butter with me and rolling her eyes at Robert Pattinson and saying, “Mom, I’m with you on this one. I JUST DON’T GET IT.”
Tonight I was really looking forward to Girls Night, mostly because there is an unopened bottle of Malbec on my counter that I was hoping would go really well with peanut butter.
As soon as we got home, I took off my nasty work clothes and tossed them in the washing machine. Maren was practicing some gravity-defying poop tricks at school today, so I grabbed one of her outfits to throw in. She also decided to show off to her classmates how she could out-puke any baby in the hemisphere, so I had another outfit to add. Then I ran around the apartment picking up whatever random wash clothes and socks I could find to add, gleefully adding soap and pulling the knob “OUT” for “START”
Then Maren and I went back into the bathroom for a little bath. Then we went into her bedroom to find pajamas and her brush, and then Maren spent a little time consoling me as I ranted about what a terrible Mother I am since she has a few patches of cradle cap on her head. Then we came back out to the living room to grab a little snack– formula for Maren, and the butter of peanuts for me– and noticed that God had bestowed upon us a swimming pool in our kitchen, because apparently I don’t have enough going on all ready. The drain hose from the washing machine had slipped out of the sink and all the water from the washing machine was now on my floor.
My mother-in-law has a very nice, passive term for situations like this. She calls this, “Navigating Complex Realities.” I call it a lot of words that I really hope Maren won’t ever say.
I put Maren in her baby gym and ran into the kitchen, hitting the knob “IN” for “STOP”– and the machine did stop, but the water kept coming. I scooped the hose up off the floor and tossed it into the machine, so the water was dumping back in on itself. Then I took off looking for anything absorbent.
Every other day of my married life it has seemed like we had more towels than anyone would ever consider necessary for a family of two and a half. My husband is a giant, so it is easy to assume that he would use a lot of towels, but he also happens to be a very efficient drier. As if it is a talent that is very important to him and he has practiced a lot. It’s a little strange, actually.
And then Maren started to fuss. This is bad news, because typically, she only fusses at two points: 1) when she is in the car seat and 2) when she is so hungry that she is considering eating her own hand.
Today all I could find was a few clean towels in the closet and a few dirty towels in the bedroom waiting for their turn in the new washing machine. I threw them on the floor in the kitchen, just as Maren’s fussiness turned to Ozzy Ozbourne worthy screaming.
Now, I spend my entire day with twelve toddlers. I listen to a lot more than my fair share of screaming kids. And I find myself saying a lot of this, “Are you okay? All right, then jump up and shake it off!” This seems to work for two year olds, but oddly enough, my infant doesn’t seem to agree that hunger can be ‘shaken off.’ And as impervious as I am to the sound of toddler-tears, the sound of my own baby crying feels like I am being physically beaten.
And in the few seconds I spent considering what I should do, her screaming became so epic that I’m pretty sure it alerted one of the seven horsemen of the apocalypse. And lo, but the apartment building did quaketh, and the sky was filled with angry looking play-doh clouds, on that great and terrible day that Mom couldn’t get the damn washing machine hooked up correctly.
So after I tossed towels on the ground I decided that she needed to eat. I grabbed her a bottle quickly and came back into the living room to feed her, hooking the hose back up and hitting the knob “OUT” for “START” so that the clothes wouldn’t start to mold in all that water.
I started feeding Maren, watching the laundry in terror, waiting for the hose to fall out again. I knew it would. It was only a matter of time. Now that it’s done it to me once, the only time this washing machine is ever going to work properly is when Mitch hooks it up, if for no other reason than so that he can look at me and shake his head and say, “SEE?!?!” Because I do that to him a lot, and the universe has now finally found a way to balance it out, and of course it would be the WASHING MACHINE, because WHY would the UNIVERSE ever let me enjoy something so wonderful?
When the hose fell out again, I put Maren back down in a bouncy seat and ran back into the kitchen, this time grabbing our dinky little mop and starting to mop as quickly as I could, wondering if we had enough dirty laundry that I could throw it down and sop up some water.
And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Maren beginning to levitate. And in the fountain of formula that ensued, it occurred to me that I still hadn’t opened that bottle of Malbec.
Maren has now been re-bathed, re-clothed, and re-fed. The kitchen floor is still a little wet, but none of the adults in this apartment care (when Mitch gets home, ONE of the adults in this apartment might). The towels are downstairs in the way too expensive dryer, waiting for me to gather up the strength to go get them. And the washing machine? That wonderful thing that I have been so happy to use three to four times a day and have been bragging about all week?
We’re not on speaking terms.