I’ve often heard the phrase “I need another hand” or something along those lines when someone refers to a specific task. Well, I’ve thought that before, but never truly, TRULY ached with the feeling until recently in my life. I’ve run it by a few other moms of toddlers, and they too feel my pain. Imagine first, if you will, a toddler who is so lacking in reason and logic that he is worse that the most annoying and clueless Survivor contestants ever. You know the ones. You yell at them through your TV set because they are beyond the touch of reality and common sense. Also, aforementioned toddler is freakishly strong with an attitude to rival the most rebellious teens. Now imagine the RANKEST smelling poopy diaper, which makes up in QUANTITY what it lacks in pleasant odor. To continue painting this pretty picture, you need to know that said toddler fights diaper changes like I’m about to pull a Jack Bauer and torture the living daylights out of him. And one more thing, I’m sorry, but if you are really walking in my shoes you need to know: this is no solid poop. I have lots of fun sentences to describe the consistency made more horrifying by its mere mass, but I will spare you my fancy wording this time. You get the idea. OH. And one more thing. This is a BOY toddler, whose favorite new pastime is innocently–yet comprehensively–exploring his newly discovered body part between his legs.
Now, when you dive into a battle situation like this, it’s not like you haven’t pulled out all the stops. Bribes. Promises. Threats. Tears. But it’s like putting out a fire with a squirt gun. It just continues to rage. So, you buck up, camper, and just do it. (Holla to my Nike boys.) First, pants and shoes off. I’ve learned from past experience that trying to save time by keeping those on just backfires, and who needs poo on their Nikes? Next, hold toddler down with left arm, and unfasten diaper with right hand. Then while toddler is squirming, no: writhing, no: FLAILING with shocking strength, I am trying to hold his ankles with my left hand (you have no idea how strong my left fingers have become in the last year) and keep his twisting to a minimum with my left elbow. I am holding those little legs so tight that I’m praying there are no bruises. My friend Diane works for CPS. Please don’t turn me in! With the right hand, I take the actual diaper, which seems to weigh as much as this child did when he came out of me, and try to use the small, untainted portion of the front of the diaper to wipe as much of the offending substance off the bum as possible. This is PRECISELY when screaming, thrashing toddler decides to explore–DOWN THERE.
“NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” I scream, dropping the diaper on the changing table in my hurry, smearing fecal matter on at least the following: changing pad, clean diaper waiting to be worn, child’s leg, container of wipes, baby powder, cute little basket holding clean diapers, AND MY OWN ARM. My frustration is quickly evident and transferred to my offspring, because he resumes his physical protest of the current situation. (Like I WANT to be here?) I’m in the middle of a sumo wrestling match, and all I can concentrate on are his hands, because his expedition is in a land that is UNCLEAN, people. I abandon all hope of doing something remotely resembling the initial objective with my right hand (although left hand still has death grip on kicking ankles in the air) and dive for the wipes. New objective: must. clean. little. hands. before. going. in. mouth. And then it happens.
Well, actually, one of three things happen. A) and most common: one wipe comes out of the little container, and the rest fall down to the bottom, and can only be retrieved by pressing a clasp and unfolding the wipes, which I dont’ have to tell you requires both hands. B) While trying to take one wipe, I get about ten, and they are all connected to each other in a long line, like old school dot-matrix printer paper. Again–need both hands to separate. or C) NO wipes left. At this point “I need another hand” is an understatement like when I read that contractions are like a “slight tightening” in my abdomen. Doesn’t quite cover it. Forget another hand, I need ten hands, a new diaper, new clothes for both of us, a stiff drink and a nanny. My frustration and anxiety completely errupts, but by the grace of God (and I’m truly not using that term flippantly) I decide that a room covered in caca is better than an abused child or an acoholic mother. I let go of my death grip, thus getting poopy bottom over changing pad, shirt, me and everything else. I let the child squirm, smearing even more poop, and I do whatever necessary to get those golden tickets: a handful of clean wipes. Or, as has occasionally happened, I ditch the room altogether in whatever state it is in and head for the shower to hose this kid off. (BTW–multiply this horror by 10 if you are on the floor of a changing-table-less bathroom in a fast food restaurant.)
As maddening as scenes like this are, there’s usually a very sweet one to follow later so I don’t completely lose my marbles. Like the other day when I was absent-mindedly singing a song in the car, and when I stopped singing, Carson erupted in applause, yelling, “Yeah, Mommy!” And it’s moments like that when I remember another phrase like “I love you” that is also a tremendous understatement and it keeps me going through the rest.