Too foggy to bloggy… (or Desperate Tales from a Duck Bath)

Tonight, sick with a fever and head cold,  I tried to cram my own “there’s no way this is going to fit in there” booty into my son’s toddler sized inflatable duck bath, making sure not to hit the beak which “quacks” at a ridiculous volume, crouched into the tightest Sasangasana rabbit pose I could muster, trying to keep all my body parts warm as I let the trickle of water from the shower head start at my neck and cover as much of me as it could before landing in the oh so tiny, oh so yellow, inflatable duck bath, wearing nothing but a ridiculous pink striped beanie attempting to keep my head warm in the cold bathroom during my worst attempt at a bath since my trip to India… and I thought, hmmm…

So this is Motherhood.

Let me back up.  My son, who came to us the first (and only) time we tried, just 12 days after our wedding day, is a delight.  I love being his mother.  I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be.   I assure you, there is not an ounce of me that would return to my “pre-motherhood” days.  Well, maybe that’s not true.  Maybe the ounce of me that was attempting to shove itself into a puddle of warm duck-bath water would want to go back.  Just for a day… or two… or thirty.  Do you remember those days?  I know you do.  When “sick day” actually meant lying around in PJs feeling sorry for yourself eating Haagen-Dazs Chocolate-Chocolate Chip ice cream, which would actually make you worse, but who cares?  There was no rush to get better.  You were enjoying your Stay-cation, complete with Season Two of Alias on DVD and a couple of warm cats to keep you company?  Oh, those were the days.

Now…  a sick day is “honey, if you could drop off our son at school, I could actually nap for 15 minutes before doing the laundry, cleaning up the toys, dumping the diaper pail, checking my emails for the business, sorting through the next box of hand-me-downs, preparing soup for the night, pureeing some of that soup for baby food, and then taking care of the baby the rest of the afternoon?”   There is no lounging in this sick day.  As a mama, you need to get better, and get better quick.

Hence the strange steam shower duck bath adventure.

Let me also back up to say that we are spending our last year of my husband’s law school living with my folks.  My mother made a generous offer to us, clearing out their entire lower level, to help us reduce debt and maybe actually be able to buy our own home someday.  This experiment in inter-generational living released many pressure valves for us, but created some new ones.  One, which I didn’t realize how big it would feel later, was no bathtub.  Of course there’s one I could use upstairs, but when you’re already feeling like a seven-year old, getting sickie-poo, the last thing you need to see is your own sweet mother’s smiling face.  I might just break into a million pieces.

My mother made this offer first just after our baby was born.  We weren’t ready, but after another year, and watching our finances, we decided to take them up on it.  We also figured we were better prepared to share space, now that we weren’t “new parents” anymore.  We’re a year and half into this, right? But frankly, I still feel like a new parent.  Actually, I feel like I’m in some sort of zone… not a seasoned parent for sure, and not that “Oh my god he hasn’t pooped for 8 hours, we have to take him to the ER” kind of new parent, but somewhere in the middle.  The Toddler Zone.  Where the sleep deprivation has just become a way of life, and the thoughts of ever returning to some kind of normal have gone the way of my skinny jeans and my “me time.”

I think nothing can prepare you for motherhood.

You can’t read a book about it, or listen to your friend’s stories. Like traveling to India, you have to see it for yourself, feel it, smell it and live it before you can really know.  You know you’ll be tired, but you don’t know that you’ll feel like you have an ever increasingly worse case of Mono that never lets up over a two-year period.  You know you’ll have some baby blues, but you don’t know that you’ll actually consider options like, “hmm, would it be easier to drive off this cliff? Or to actually go home and deal with my life?”  You know your life will never be the same.  But you don’t know that you’ll look back on your pre-motherhood life like it was a strange dream your old college buddy told you about.

You definitely don’t know that you’ll be crammed into a two foot by two foot shower stall, attempting to bathe in something made for someone who weighs less than 20 pounds, feeling like you are getting sick but talking to God in used-car salesman language “Okay, God, I know I’m supposed to be sick right now, but If I could just move it to next week, that’d be really great.  Or if I could be really sick tonight, but all better tomorrow? Could we work that out?”  You don’t know that all the while, you’ll be writing this David Sedaris style blog entry in your head to try to get you through one of the most bizarre moments of your life.  And knowing that if you don’t write it down, the next time you will have 10 minutes to yourself is probably in 2013.  Do blogs imitate life?  Or does life imitate blogs? I don’t know, but I do know these mommy blogs can truly save us.  To know that someone else, be it Annie Lamott, or Heather Armstrong, has walked up to the edge that you’ve walked up to, thought the same crazy thoughts, and turned around and went back to her life.  This saves us.

This is motherhood.  Or at least motherhood for me, tonight.  I know it will pass.  Tomorrow the sun will come up and I will see my smiling little angel’s face and smell his warm salty smell, and feel my heart break open once again, but right now…

I just want a bath.

And not one where my butt is getting a rubbed raw by rubber and one wrong move could send a screaming loud quacking sound into my son’s room on the other side of the wall.

But this is what mothers do.  There is nothing sustainable or balanced about it.  It comes from the deepest love we may ever feel.  It’s a crazy experiment in seeing just how much of our self-care is negotiable.  And how much isn’t.  Speaking of that, I better go to sleep.  Goodnight, to all the mothers out there.  Goodnight nobody.  Goodnight air.  Goodnight noises everywhere.


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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. alison rogers
    Jan 21, 2011 @ 13:49:10

    I am sitting at my computer, a hot cup of lemon water with honey and ginger by my side as I honk and cough through day 5 of a bad cold. Before coming down to write this I did just 5 minutes of gentle yoga, very gentle yoga, even though some part of me was pushing to do a full practice. The image of your attempt at a warm soothing bath is poignant, humorous and touching. But there is something more. Your intention to take care of yourself while you are are at your most soft and vulnerable, is a precious commitment to lovingkindness. It doesn’t really matter if we are before parenting, in the thick of parenting, or like me, post parenting. It doesn’t matter if our attempts even quite work out. With each intention to practice lovingkindness in the form of self-care we strengthen our ability to be compassionately present with what is and with those around us. This is metta. Be well soon.


    • Katie
      Jan 27, 2011 @ 22:03:50

      Thank you, Allison. What a sweet response. It inspires me to think that even our attempts at self care are sometimes enough.


  2. Brenda
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 20:58:31

    Great thoughts and images, Katie. Sorry you are feeling bad. Last week Jim and I had a stomach flu/food poisoning. We each laid on a couch with Yvie on the floor between us and tossed toys in her general direction trying to keep her engaged and not wanting to crawl up the stairs (which would have required one of us to actually move to follow her). Not so much fun.


  3. Jean Marie
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 16:26:04

    Hi there Katie: I get the need for a bath! You can feel free to call me and come over and use mine anytime 🙂


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