My Mom, My Warrior

When I am nine years old, my dad travels for work a lot. It's not what we're used to, and my mom puts up with a lot of shit from me and my siblings. She solo parents four kids (aged 12, 9, 5, and 3.5) for a year and somehow manages to not lose her sanity. My mom is a warrior. (So is my dad, by the way. He works hard to provide for his family. But this story isn't about that so you'll have to take my word for it.)

One day, the stomach flu hits our home. My mom runs from child to child, holding back hair, emptying buckets, encouraging sips of apple juice, and finally piles all the sickies into her own bed for the sake of efficiency. Because she is my mom (and if you know my mom, you know exactly what I mean,) she decides to sleep on the floor beside the bed so she can be with us as soon as she's needed.

Finally we are all asleep. My mom, haggard from the demands of sick kids, exhausted from parenting without a break, unzips a sleeping bag...and the metal zipper pull breaks and plunges into her finger. And gets stuck. My mom can't get the zipper pull out of her finger and she can't detach the zipper pull from the sleeping bag. My mom is home, alone with four sick kids, in the middle of the night, with a sleeping bag attached to her hand (in pain! Because, you know, impalement.).

I slept through the entire incident so I have no first-hand memory of it but as the story goes, my mom called our neighbour for help, she ended up in the emergency room where the staff told her they thought she was carrying either a sick child or a bomb into the hospital, the zipper pull was removed from her finger, and she was home in time to power through our morning shenanigans.

We joke about turning into our mothers but in my case, I kind of hope I do. My mom moves mountains for her kids. I want my kids to grow up knowing I would do the same for them.

Thanks, Universe

I grew up in a margarine household. I am so Team Butter now it's not even funny but growing up, it was all margarine, all the time.

Opening up a new tub of margarine was a big deal to me and my siblings. My mom used to buy the big tub from Costco so even though we're a family of six, untouched margarine was a rare occurrence. The surface of a fresh tub of margarine is a sight to behold. Smooth, creamy, unsullied by crumbs, with the perfect little knob in the middle where the stream of margarine flowed into the tub. This little knob, or the margarine's "belly button" as we called it, was the highest prize amongst us kids.

We would eagerly anticipate the opening of a new tub of margarine. When we noticed the old tub running low, we would strategically time our margarine consumption to better our own odds of being present when the new tub was opened. When the day finally came that the old tub was scraped clean and the new tub ceremoniously took its place in the middle of our table, my siblings and I would campaign to be the lucky one who took the margarine's belly button. We couldn't tell you what we did in school that day but we could say, with certainty, which kid opened the last tub of margarine, even though it was months before.

The negotiations did not go smoothly. Feelings would be hurt, alliances would be forged, promises of future support would be made, and finally, my parents would tire of our bullshit and instruct one of us to just eat the damn margarine belly button already. My dad would physically cringe as the victor would scoop the little knob of margarine from the pristine surface. One does not scoop margarine, you see. We do not mar it with craters. We live in a society. We scrape the top of the margarine in a uniform fashion and we do not leave crumbs behind goddammit. We aren't animals.

But he gave it to us; despite his feelings on proper margarine management, my dad let us kids scoop the damn margarine belly button every time (but heaven help us if we left toast crumbs behind).

It seems insignificant, the defacing of a tub of margarine, but it's just one tiny example of how kids are literally the worst and grandkids are sent as some sort of retribution from the universe.

Grady is the light of my life. He is my heart and soul and my very favourite boy. He is also challenging me in ways I've never experienced. This morning I made chocolate banana muffins for breakfast. My stubborn picky eater attempted to "pick out" the banana because he didn't like how it looked. He couldn't taste the banana. The texture of the banana wasn't the problem. He just didn't like how it looked. There were no banana chunks or slices; I had mashed the bananas thoroughly before mixing the batter. But my mash job was obviously sub-par because he was able to discern a few banana bits. I sat and watched, in broken silence, as he crumbled an entire muffin in an attempt to remove the few offending bits of banana. And it made me think back on my childhood margarine belly button brawls and wonder: why don't we eat our young?

She Just Kept Jumping

Let me set the scene for you. The scene of my nightmare.

Poppy was happily jumping in her Jolly Jumper. We've got one that is basically just a harness that hangs from a large spring. We hang it in the doorway of our closet because then she's jumping on carpet and can get more traction (and therefore more bounce) than when she's jumping in the hallway on the hardwood floor.

So! Poppy is happily bouncing and chattering away. I am folding laundry and listening to podcasts and glancing over periodically to make sure she's still happy.

At one point, I looked over to check on her and my brain took a comically long time to take in what was happening. My first thought was "why is Poppy jumping in mud?" My second thought was "where did the mud come from?" And then the realization hit that Poppy was not jumping in mud. She was jumping in poop. On my cream-coloured bedroom carpet.

My brain finally processed the scene and I managed a strangled "holy shit" as I leapt toward her (tangent: nicely done with the apt curse, brain). Poppy looked up at me in surprise and kept happily jumping. When Poppy is in her Jolly Jumper, she has one job to do. She takes her jumping very seriously. So I'm panicking, pleading with her to hold still while I evaluate the scene, and she's in her happy place, jumping in her poop puddle with a giant, shit-eating (too much?) grin on her face.

If you are not familiar with baby poop, let me try to explain this without getting too graphic. We're not talking about solid poop. Poppy has started eating some solid food but her diet is still mainly breastmilk. Her poop is the consistency of peanut butter. Sometimes the velocity of her poop is such that it shoots out the leg holes of her diapers. In a perfect world, she's wearing clothes to help stem the flow and contain the splatter. We do not live in a perfect world. Poppy's bum was covered only by her diaper and her Jolly Jumper harness.

Have you ever put a honey badger baby in or taken one out of a Jolly Jumper harness? It's difficult. It requires complicated maneuvering even when the honey badger baby is not covered in poop and you are not throwing up in your mouth a little bit. I ended up disconnecting the Jolly Jumper harness from the spring and carried the entire thing, with Poppy still trying to jump, directly to the tub.

So I'm hosing Poppy off in the tub when I hear Wolfgang, our sweet but dumb dog, creep into the bedroom. I can't leave Poppy in a tub full of water. I can't take her with me because she's still covered in poop but now she's also dripping wet. No one else is home with me. I tried calling Wolfgang. I tried yelling at Wolfgang. I tried praying. But nothing worked.

I finished giving Poppy her bath. I cleaned the Jolly Jumper harness. I steam-cleaned the carpet. I scrubbed the tub, sink, and every surface I touched during the poopocalypse with disinfectant. I brushed Wolfgang's teeth. I put on a load of poop laundry.

And then I found a pile of dog vomit. Wolfgang had thrown up the baby poop he ate.

And then I burned it all down.

By the time Shawn got home from work (with takeout sushi in hand because I had warned him that something had gone down that had required hours of deep cleaning in place of dinner prep) I was a husk of a woman. "She just kept jumping," was all I could manage to mutter as I washed my hands for the four hundredth time that day.

I can laugh about it now but when teenage Poppy refuses to take out the garbage or unload the dishwasher, you better believe I'll be bringing up the day I cleaned her poop (both fresh and regurgitated) off every surface in our house.

Conquering Teething Pain and Getting More Sleep with Boiron

Poppy is not what you would call a "good sleeper." That term is so inapplicable to her that I can't even type the whole sentence with a straight face. Poppy is hilarious and loving and engaging and a thousand other fabulous things, but a good sleeper she is not.

I know that babies aren't designed to sleep for long stretches of time. They have tiny tummies that need filling and emotions that need soothing. I don't expect to put Poppy down at 7pm, say "peace out!" and not see her again until 7am. I did, however, expect that by 10 months old our sleep situation wouldn't be quite so tenuous.

Last week as I ran Grady to his classroom (because we missed his teacher) (because we missed the bell), clutching a howling, pyjama-clad Poppy to my chest, sprinting up the stairs to try to make it to his classroom before the second bell so he wouldn't have to go to the office for a late slip, I passed one of the other kindergarten moms. This mom always seems so calm when I see her at pickup and drop off; I have never seen her sprint; I have never seen her pyjamas. (Three things no one at Grady's school can say about me.) She gave me a kind smile and as I ran past she called, "it gets better!"

Her kindness and her message stuck with me. Does it get better? Or can I make it better? Or, maybe more accurately when dealing with a honey badger baby, how can I try to make it better? How can we get more sleep so our days don't feel like unmanageable chaos as we run from one thing to another, always arriving late and dishevelled?

The answer for us, in our current sleep-deprived state, is Boiron. Poppy's already fragile sleep situation was becoming more and more fragmented with her teething pain. Boiron Camilia is a  homeopathic medicine that relieves the symptoms of teething.

Developed specifically for babies and toddlers ages 1 to 30 months, Camilia is made with sterile water and contains no sugar, no colouring and no preservatives. Camilia relieves pain, restlessness, irritability and diarrhea due to teething.

Poppy's teething pain is always worse at bedtime when she doesn't have her big brother or her toys to distract her. Her peevishness and inability to settle, combined with our anxiety about how little sleep we're getting, made evenings in our house miserable. Camilia helps Poppy settle down to sleep because we're relieving her discomfort before it becomes rage-inducing pain. As soon as I see Poppy's signals (rosy cheeks, drool trail down her chin, chewing her fist) I give her a dose of Camilia and it quickly soothes her.

I trust Boiron to provide safe, homeopathic remedies for my family (we've used their Children's Coryzalia on Grady's colds for years). Boiron was founded in France in 1932 and has been established in Canada for 25 years. Their website provides a wealth of information on different homeopathic remedies and an extensive FAQ section. They also provide a transparent glimpse at their manufacturing process for curious minds. The Boiron Group is a global leader in homeopathy because of their steadfast commitment to research and development and they're a hero in our household because now we're all getting more sleep.

This post is part of the and Boiron Canada #BoironBaby sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.