If I’m honest, I suppose the problem started when, at work last Friday afternoon, I started musing on what a nice little night I was planning for myself.
“What’ll I watch tonight?” I threw it out to the office.
“I’ve got a free gaff!”
A free gaff for me, a 32-year-old woman with a husband and two small kids is not having the house to myself, God no if only, it’s when The Man goes out and I have total autonomy over the ‘what’s for dinner?’ and ‘what’ll we watch?’ questions. It’s a little slice of domestic heaven. I do still have to parent though and therein lies the rub.
The first rookie mistake was talking out loud about forthcoming plans as a parent, of course. The Parenting Gods are always there watching and listening out for our hubris. Think you’re going to wear white today? “Mwahahahhaha,” roar the Parenting Gods. “You fool,” they crow, as they malevolently place an obstacle to your plans in the form of a sticky, jam-coated toddler. Decide you’d like to have an early night and catch up on some sleep? Prepare for a night of bedtime battles, bed-wetting and maybe a suspected temperature for good measure.
So there I was chatting about what kind of pizza I’d be ordering from the nice pizza place and thinking about the Nero d’Avola I’d be opening, practically BEGGING the Parenting Gods to smote me.
The second rookie mistake was messing with bedtime. Like. An. IDIOT. You don’t mess with bedtime. You don’t cavalierly disregard the routine just because your au pair needs a lift to a festival and you want to be sound so that she will never leave you (a near-constant terror).
Even she looked dubious. “But it’s bedtime?” she argued.
Listen to her you fool. She basically is the mother of your children at this stage, she KNOWS.
“No it’s cool, I’ll bring carrot sticks.”
“Foolish, foolish woman. Idiotic fruit-bearer. Yea though you walk through the valley of toddlers and babies, you see no potential for disaster here, dumbass?” Chant the Parenting Gods.
The outward trip was without incident. My third mistake was on the return journey when both children fell asleep and I, a little giddy, articulated the thought: “Wheyhey, both kids asleep simultaneously – I’m gonna do the transfer no probs and be munching the Quattro Fromaggio in no time.”
“Oh hey lady… NOPE,” whispered the malevolent deities. “You will not enjoy your evening. To punish your hubris we will be sending a punishment of cruel and disgusting proportions.”
My pizza-wine-Netflix fantasy was, at this point, interrupted by the sound of a child vomiting violently. It was the seven-month-old who had just spectacularly spewed all over himself. He was totally fine a part from being quite literally submerged in sick in his carseat. Apologies, I know that’s some visual.
I was trapped in traffic and unable to get out, also I was very near home at this point.
“Poor baba,” I soothed, picturing how on earth I would field this nightmare. A few minutes later and I was in front of my house intensely bemused to find that the baby had fallen back to sleep still bathing in the vom. This is the kind of parental catch-22 that no book can prepare you for. The spawn needed to be transferred to bed, preferably without waking them. The spew sitch needed to be dealt with and the baby cleaned up.
To marshal my thoughts I figured it best to pour a glass of wine before anything else took place, it’s really best for the children. A quick sip to gird the loins and it was back to the car to begin operation night-salvage.
I transferred the toddler first without incident. This in itself was miraculous. “If I only had one kid, I’d be set,” I moaned to myself. “Babies are so conniving, they have a way of screwing you no matter what – even when they’re asleep.”
I began to run the bath and then returned to the car to do something so horrendous, so ICK that the moment that will stay with me until the day I die. I plunged my hands into the vom-pool to extract the sleeping baby. The baby roared awake and I watched the dream of pizza ebbing away. Though, in fairness, pizza was not really most appealing thing at that point.
I washed the baby and tried to comfort him – “You think YOU’RE traumatised!” – and spent the next hour and a half trying to subdue him with boobs and rocking until at last he submitted and fell asleep.
Shattered I wandered in a daze back downstairs. It was nearly ten, nine hours since my last meal, the carseat was still a bucket of vom. The fight had gone out of me to try to salvage the night in anyway. I carried the carseat out to the yard and tipped the sick into the drain. I then drank my wine toasting to those spiteful Parenting Gods who show no mercy.
The Man came home from the pub delighted with life.
“How was your night?” he chirped.