Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Titus 2'sday: On Being Brave and Mama Magic

I started a new little tradition here called "Titus 2'sday."  Based on Titus 2, each Tuesday I will share the tidbits and pieces that friends and family have shared with me or that I've picked up about parenting so far. Feel free to chime in to share your wisdom!

Sunday was a weird day.  Hurricane Irene kept me up most of the night before, all our clocks were off, my internal clock was totally confused, the baby was fussy, house projects were glaring (and swearing) at me, I felt kind sick, it was the last "real" day of summer, and I swear I didn't know which way was up.  Add to the mix some cat pee that had ruined some hardwood flooring, and it was a recipe for disaster.  I spent most of the evening a stressed, mean, anxious mess, with a stomach ache to boot.  

After a quick errand around 8:30, we got home and the baby had dozed off in the car.  She woke up crying, and I knew I just needed to get that baby into bed with me with her head on my chest for a lovely snuggle that was sure to melt all the sorrows of the day away.

I changed her, pajama'd her, and held her close to my heart.  I walked over to our bed, climbed in, and started to lean back.


I just wanted to freeze for a second, Saved-By-The-Bell-style, to let you know that what you about to read is gross.  Ok, let me put away my gigantic cell phone, and don't say I didn't warn you.  Ok, unfreeze!

I leaned back and heard an odd rumbling sound.  Suddenly, before even a thought could form in the recesses of my brain, there was barf all. over. me.  All down my shirt, on my neck, in my hair, on my stomach.  Chunks of half-digested pineapple in my bra.  Yes, I said it.  In my bra.  As I felt the little body in my arms curling up to heave again, my only thought was, "This is the moment I have been dreading my entire life."

I do not do throw up.  I worked in an animal hospital for many of my high school and college years.  I've been a little barn kid for most of my life.  I am not easily grossed out.  I've stitched, I've vaccinated, I've mucked, I've bathed.  You name, I've cleaned it, and I bet you could never even think to name some of thing things I've cleaned up.  

But barf...it just gets me.  Every time.  Before becoming a mother, I was terrified of two things and two things only: not sleeping ever again, and barf.

So there I was, absolutely covered in the substance of my motherhood nightmares, and what did I do?

I laughed.  One of those shocked, shaky, almost crying laughs, but a laugh nevertheless.  Out of the ends of that laughed I managed to croak out, "Honey?  HONEY?!  The baby threw up!  All over me!"  

Because, honestly, what else are you going to do when you're covered in throw up besides sit there like an idiot and laugh-cry-yell for your husband?  

I know you're thinking, "What on earth does this horrible, TMI-story have to do with Titus 2?  What about it could possibly be edifying to other young women at large?"  

I'm getting there!

Catching the desperation in my voice, my husband came running.  He somehow managed to get the baby out of my arms and into the bath tub, while she threw up two more times.  (Make a note to yourself:  Don't lean a baby back who has just thrown up, even to quickly get off her clothes, because she might do it again and you'll panic thinking that she's choking and aspirating.  Rookie mistake, Daddy.)  I somehow managed to get myself into the bathroom as well, and within 15 minutes everyone was clean and dry and the baby was adequately thermometered and apple-juiced and patted and rubbed and cuddled.       

You know what?  It wasn't so bad.  

I've dreaded being the one to clean all of that up for years.  It was a place where I thought I would fail as a mama, that I wouldn't be able to help my own child because I would be so grossed out and sick myself and lacking in compassion.  Yet, just like so many of my other biggest fears that have come true, in the moment it wasn't so bad.  I just did what needed to be done, and honestly, I felt brave!  The worst part was the look on my child's face, the look that said, "This is terrible!  What is happening to me?!"  I just wanted to make that stop and I wanted to wave some magic mama-wand to make it all better.  

One of the neat things about being a mom though is that we do have magic mama wands, and they appear just when we need them most.  They are in hands that are soft and cool and calming; in the shushing, sing-song voice; in our steady, rocking arms.  My baby trusts me, wants me and needs me, and just by being there for her, I can help her feel better again.

Being that the baby and I are both recovered from that yucky little virus on Sunday, I was visiting a sweet friend today at the new school where she's teaching.  She had a lovely little quote on her wall, taken from Winnie the Pooh, and it just seemed so entirely apropos for what I've been learning lately as a mama:

"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."  A.A. Milne

I want to stamp this quote on the forehead of every new mom out there who is about to bring a baby into her home for the first time.  I know it sounds a little cheesy, but the words ring true and to me, they perfectly describe what being a mama is all about, barf and all.

What about you, mamas out there?  When was a time that you rose to the occasion when you didn't think you could? 

"Tell the older women to behave as those who love the Lord should. They must not gossip about others or be slaves of wine. They must teach what is proper, so the younger women will be loving wives and mothers. Each of the younger women must be sensible and kind, as well as a good homemaker, who puts her own husband first. Then no one can say insulting things about God's message." Titus 2:3-5 


  1. So glad you made it thru W's throwing up and cleaning up! And that Lenny was home! Praying that doesn't happen again for a LONG time!

  2. This was brave - as you know we share the same fear, and you give me hope! Kudos!

  3. First I LOVE the new series you are doing, it's so encouraging! Second, I feel like I can relate to you on every level about the barf - that was my number one mom fear. I actually promised Joel I would change every poopy diaper (ha!) if he promised he would always do the barf...Emme has had the stomach flu twice and I've always been right there catching the puke and snuggling her close, it's amazing how being a mom changes everything!

  4. omg chunky pineapple!?!?!?!
    you get the barf trophy.
    i think i would have puked too!
    nice work, mama.

  5. Oh my goodness--- sleeplessness and barf are MY two biggest fears!!! You give me hope that I can tackle motherhood at some point. I hope i can brave the pineapple chunks as wonderfully as you did! Props mama!


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