Welcome to my latest edition of Parenting Win vs Parenting Fail, a blog series where I share the honest realities of parenting by celebrating the parenting wins, as well as commiserating over the parenting fails that are as much a part of life as the wins. This week I decided I’d share my own stories. I have many wins and many fails, but the two I’m about to share always stick out for me as the most memorable. You’ll see why … trust me, they’re huge!
My Parenting Win
My Parenting Win would have to be the day I finally managed to go out of the house with both kids without the baby bag. Nappy Bag, Baby Bag, Diaper Bag – it goes by many names! I know it seems like a trivial thing, but by that point, I’d been lugging a baby bag with me everywhere I went for around four and a half years.
By this stage, my youngest was 2&1/2 and had been refusing to wear nappies for almost six months, which was fine, unless we were doing a long-distance trip in the car. The bag didn’t actually contain any nappies, rather it contained two spare changes of clothes, baby wipes (because kids are sticky), and an emergency cloth nappy which was used to wipe up anything and everything that the children messed, not as an actual nappy … ever!
The day came.
I took the bag out as I prepared to leave and as usual, I asked the girls to go to the loo before we left the house. Cue crying and protesting, but they did it. I grabbed my bag and keys and as I reached for the baby bag out of habit, I looked at my youngest, looked back at the bag, and right then I decided not to take it with us.
How did it go when I left the baby bag at home?
We managed to do a full grocery shop which took around 45 minutes. The entire time I was a nervous wreck waiting for her to suddenly give me no warning and leave a little puddle on the floor in the middle of the frozen food section. But the moment never came. She was so good. I was so proud of her, and me. We had finally done it. We had gone out without the nappy bag. From that day onwards I never looked back. It was so liberating. I felt so free. I guess it was one of those moments where motherhood shifts slightly. At least it was for me anyway. That was my big #ParentingWin moment. It felt like freedom.
My Parenting Fail
My ParentinFail moment was awful. Absolutely awful. My youngest was off school sick with a nasty cough and cold, but I had an errand to run so I had to take her with me. The errand was to go to the place that tints the car windows because they had left something inside the door of my car which was rattling terribly. It was a 30-minute job for them to open the door panel, retrieve whatever it was, and put the panel back. I had arranged it already and was going to wait in their waiting area.
My youngest daughter was with me, and, as with most three year olds, she couldn’t sit still. After about 20 minutes she was bored of going through my phone and so got up to wonder around. I saw no harm as there wasn’t really anywhere she could go or anything potentially harmful near her … or so I thought. I let her wander to a table which was about 2 meters from me. TWO. I literally took my eyes off her for the time it takes to check the time and when I looked up, she had grabbed what appeared to be a plastic soda bottle filled with water and just started drinking. Why?!
I jumped up to take it away from her, because you know, germs, and by the time I’d got to her she was already spluttering and coughing. And then the smell hit me. It wasn’t water, it was paint thinners! The workers used it to do whatever it was they did to tint windows! Paint. Thinners!
I was beside myself. She was coughing, her eyes were welling up, and the smell was so strong. The manager and his receptionist came running over. Between us, we got her some actual water, and I asked them for a cup of milk but my daughter hates milk so she refused to drink it. She was crying, but more from my reaction I think. I kept asking her, is it burning, is your tummy sore, but she kept saying no.
Thank goodness my car was finished by then and so I went straight home with her. I was trying not to show her how panicked I actually was. So far, my reaction was half the reason she had been crying. I tried to calm down and think logically, and I told myself that there was no way she could have actually ingested very much at all. I kept waiting and hoping she would start vomiting to get it out of her, but she didn’t. Nothing. She was fine.
I kept asking her if she felt sick, or if she had a sore tummy, but she was fine, like normal. Coughing … but she already had a cough. Otherwise, she was fine, except for the smell. When we got home I changed her clothes, gave her a bath, gave her a sandwich hoping that something starchy would absorb whatever she had ingested. I had already called my husband to tell him, and we agreed that I should just keep an eye on her and not panic. *Cue hysterical laughing!*
She fell asleep shortly after lunch and I stayed right next to her the whole time, just in case she started to be sick. But she didn’t and the day went on as usual, apart from me not taking my eyes off her!
Was she really okay?
That evening when it was time for bed, she wasn’t sleepy because of her long afternoon nap, so we just put her in the bed with us. But the smell coming from her was awful – like pure thinners was seeping out of her skin – not even her breath, like from her pores. It was about 21.00 and I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I could see she wasn’t in any distress but I needed to have a medical opinion to confirm for me that she was okay.
I wrapped her up warmly, and drove to the emergency room – my husband stayed at home with our other daughter. The ER was busy, but they shoved me to the front of the queue because it was for a young child. After a quick examination and many well-deserved judgmental tuts and sighs from the medical staff, the Doctor confirmed that she was absolutely fine. The main concern would have been if it had gone into her lungs, but thankfully, as I had suspected, she couldn’t have ingested very much at all. The fact that she had such a bad cough meant that the phlegm in her chest had actually acted as a barrier.
The mom guilts were bad. Super bad! The smell disappeared after a few days. I did keep her at home with me for the remainder of the week. She did not suffer any other side effects and doesn’t even remember it now.
Dealing with Judgement as a parent
Coincidentally, this happened around the time when that story was all over the news about the child who had climbed the railing and fallen into the gorilla pit and the gorilla had to be destroyed. I remember the mother of that child got a proper roasting in the media, and the judgement of the world was heaped on her shoulders. I, however, was trying very hard to reserve my judgement, because I had just had my child drink paint thinners less than 5 meters away from me whilst I was checking the time. I was hardly a perfect parent in a position to be judging anyone. And that people, is my biggest Parenting Fail moment ever … so far.
I’m sure I have now gone down in many people’s expectations, so take my lesson and learn from it! Never let your child out of eye-sight or arms-length ever! Never look at your phone. Never take your child on an errand. Just stay at home, keep them in a padded room, and then no harm can come to them. Then we can all avoid #ParentingFail moments as momentous as mine. These things happen people!
I’d like to highlight the contrast between what was for me a great Parenting Win moment, and an awful terrible Parenting Fail moment. My win seems so small but was a huge thing for me. The fail was just awful, a real low moment in my parenting career. Really low. But I’m just a normal mom, trying to survive parenthood. The highs and the lows.
So, after all that I’m quite sure none of you have a Parenting Fail moment quite as bad as mine – it’s just me and the gorilla mom.
If you would like to share your parenting win and parenting fail and be featured in this series, please let me know.
For a little less trauma, please check out last week’s post featuring the lovely Liberty On The Lighter Side. She’s a much better mom than me for sure!