We moms (and mums) sometimes have bad days when we know we just screwed up royally and surely added another six months to our children's future and inevitable therapy sessions. I call them "Bad Mumdays."
One of my Bad Mumdays came on a day when a whole lot of laundry was crying out to be washed. With the kids' spilling their giggles around the kitchen and happily tearing magazines into tiny bits of paper on the tile, I saw their distraction as my chance to escape. I ran down to the basement laundry room to quickly get much needed work done.
I guess I wasn’t as “quickly” as I thought.
It was so quiet as I walked up the stairs, I started to worry. You know. That Silence. I rushed into the kitchen to see what they were doing.
The kitchen was coated in mud. And my kids too, their smiles gleaming up at me through faces coated in mud. And the walls, and the window, and everything in SIGHT was coated in mud. Charlie was missing, but his little muddy footprints pitter-patted across the kitchen floor and disappeared down the hallway.
The Four must have jumped to it the second I'd left the floor, abandoning their charade of making magazine confetti. They'd discovered all my spring seedlings and begonia bulbs that were growing in pots (and pots and more pots) of dirt (read “mud,” as I’d just watered them earlier). Almost ready to be replanted outside, the plants faced the sun through the patio door glass on shelves that I thought (mistakenly) were sealed off from little fingers with cardboard on the back sides. They'd peeled away the cardboard and pulled out every single pot, emptied it onto the floor, and wallowed in the mud like happy piglets.
Of course, I ruined everything by being grumpy. I made tiny happy people transform into scared traumatized outcasts. I failed to realize how they had been very industrious and created an entire playroom of the most cherished medium for toddlers: mud. Not only did I miss seeing their creativity, but I focused on myself. It became all about me. MY lost seedlings, MY ruined begonias, MY kitchen walls with handprints all over them. Me, me, ME. Then I realized that Spencer might have been chewing on the begonia bulbs, from all the mud in his mouth and the teeth marks on the bulbs, so I waded through the mess to get to the phone to call poison control (I still hadn’t found Charlie yet). Fortunately, they didn’t think I needed to come have his stomach pumped.
Where to start with a mess like that! The black sticky mud on the floor seemed to be the best place to start, so I could at least walk around without spreading it worse. I scooped up the clumps I could, chucking them back into the empty flower pots, all the while making clear to all the young ears what I thought of their activities. Charlie came back in about then. The trepidation on his little face! He could sense that Mom wasn’t very happy. Poor Spencer just sat on the floor and cried. I was a monster. I cleaned my hands enough to grab my camera, because I just had to have evidence to show my husband when he got home in a few hours. But I didn’t comfort the poor darlings. Wicked. I was just plain wicked. One of those Worst-Mom-of-the-Year moms. They had just been utilizing their serendipitous discovery. They were being wonderfully creative. They HAD been having fun. But I couldn't see it.
Once I was able to walk across the floor, I had to do something with the kids who kept spreading the dirt as they ran around while I tried to clean. I filled up the kitchen sink—it had a disposal so the clots of dirt going down the drain would not be such a problem—and I stripped down the first kid I could catch, Spencer, and stuck him in the water. Wash, rinse, repeat. Scrub. Harder. Get that sticky, stubborn mud off. Wash, rinse, repeat. More mud caked on than would come off in one cycle. NOT one of those fun bath times. Poor little baby. I see that now. Once washed, I put him in a new diaper, new jammies, and stuck him in a crib with the sides locked high.
When I finally got all four bathed and dressed, and locked together in the crib, I started back on the kitchen. Once I finished getting the floor clean, I had to start on the walls. I was in the middle of that, wondering why Jason wasn’t home from work yet when the phone rang. He was running late. Bad, bad day to be running late. Bad. I made that a little bit clear. Okay, so a lot clear. He said he’d do what he could. I think he was probably afraid to come home.
Once the kitchen was finally clean—after four hours total—four very sad, neglected children were crying to please be let out of the crib and given something to eat. Jason got home and brought with him Domino’s pizza.
t was an awful day. And poor little Spencer’s face says it all. What at first looked like so much fun for him and his siblings turned out to be a huge error in judgment. But really, the error in judgment was on my part. It was one of our hardest days, but man I wish I could do it again. I would love a chance to do it a LOT differently!
“The envelop please—and the Worst Mommy Ever goes to….” Sigh.
Want my stories delivered right to your inbox? I can do that! Click the button below to sign up and I'll make sure to send my post right to you each day that I blog.