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Faint Not Mom

Be Encouraged. Be Creative. Be Yourself.

This is a blog by Joanna Appel about living a life of faith as a mother and an artist. Following Jesus in the midst of crazy, messy, life is hard.  We all need people to come alongside us, to inspire and encourage us.  Faint Not, World!  You are not alone!

Poop Monsters, Wild Animals, and Me

It all started when Silas fell into the tub. I had turned the water on and plugged the drain, danced around the boys to get into my bath time position, sitting on the closed toilet. Reuben wanted to help pump the soap into the water so we were together pushing down when, out of the corner of my eye, I see Silas stretching towards a toy from outside the bath. Suddenly but at the same time, very slowly, he fell on his head into about a half inch of water. It was like his head was being weighed against his feet, and gravity decided to make the logical choice. I dropped the bottle of soap, somehow maneuvered Silas, pivoting on his head, into a sitting position and then took this picture.

He didn’t cry and we decided to laugh about the whole thing. I took his soggy clothes off, and removed his hefty diaper, undressed the others and we continued with bath time. Today was Grandpa’s birthday, so I decided to facetime him while the boys were confined in the tub so that they could sing him “Happy Birthday”. By the time I got an answer from Gigi (Tom’s mom), things were totally out of control. Silas had discovered that by just lifting his hands out of the water a certain way, he could throw heaps of it in my direction. Imagine that. A toddler learning how to splash—the nerve. Reuben thought that this was tremendous fun and decided to really show him how it is done.  So while I was yelling at them to stop splashing, I was holding the iPhone calling my in-laws. I used the shower curtain as a shield but still I got soaking wet. Grandpa was working late and Gigi couldn’t even distract the boys from their impromptu ‘shower’ of fun. 

You may be wondering what Eli was doing during all of this hubbub. Well, my dear sweet Eli decided to pour bath water very slowly and meticulously on the edge of the bath, pretending to be making pancakes. So while I was guarding myself from the water on one front, my feet were getting wet in the pool of ‘pancake batter’ on the bathroom floor. When I discovered that my socks were soaked, I had had enough—there are few things worse to have on your person than wet socks. I told Eli to stop making pancakes on the edge of the tub because of the water on the floor, I told Reuben and Silas to stop splashing me or they would get a consequence. My 2-year-olds listened, my one-year-old did not. I gave Silas his consequence—a slap on the back of the hand, which he did not enjoy and he cried for about ten seconds, then continued splashing me—gleefully. I told him “no” but he did not stop, so I delivered the consequence again. Same reaction, small amount of crying and then back to splashing mama. I told him to stop but he did not listen for the third time and I slapped his wrist again. He cried, again. I gave up and actually started the washing part of the bath.

I gave them a minute or two, after I had finished all the hair washing and body scrubbing, to play while I collected their PJs to the changing table and got their towels ready. I came back for Silas and told him I was going to take him about of the bath. I received a whiney but firm “No!”, but I grabbed him anyways. He started screaming and wailing in protest. I took him out of the bath, wrapped him in his towel, carried him to the changing table where he continued to convulse, cry and wrestle me while I put lotion on his eczema and desitin on his bottom. He was still crying after I had put his diaper on and used magic to get his pajamas on, despite his protests and angry twirling that he was using to escape the changing table. I put him in his crib—still crying—so that I could go get his brothers out of the bath.

I asked Reuben and Eli to stand up so I could get them out of the tub. Eli—who helps me when he notices that Silas’ crying is making me go crazy—he stood up for me, I grabbed him out, wrapped him up and told him to waddle to his room. I grabbed a reluctant Reuben, stood him up and wrapped him, and told him to waddle to his room as well, so I could take a half second drain the tub. Reuben refused. He wanted to be CARRIED. I was in no mood, I was dripping wet, Silas was still crying, Eli was probably naked in the room already, and I knew I had another issue that I needed to deal with urgently, but couldn’t until I got them in their PJs. I herded Reuben into his room and then scooped up Eli and put him on the table, ran back to the bathroom and found a pull-up, then back to the table, only to realize that the PJs I grabbed for Eli were too small. So I dug through our box of PJ’s, frantically trying to find something big enough so that his ankles, belly and forearms would be warm enough while he sleeps—which I knew if I didn’t, it would keep me up all night from worry that he would catch a cold or pneumonia, or hypothermia from my terrible neglect to find him pajamas that fit! I was unsuccessful in that box so I then had to find a t-shirt in my 3T box and throw it on the poor boy. While I am doing all this, Reuben still wrapped tight in a towel, is trying to get into his bed. He looks like a jumping burrito, and is struggling, armless, to find some traction on a pile of blankets. By the time I am done with Eli, Reuben is jumping up and down in his bed, naked, howling like a wolf. Oh, and Silas is still crying.

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I scoop up Reuben and get him dressed. He is laughing and goofy and floppy, which makes getting feet into pockets and arms into holes, nearly impossible. While I’m getting him dressed, Eli is making some sort of obstacle course out of the PJ box and the 3T box—which I left out—and this is making Reuben laugh all the more, resulting in more flops and wiggles. FINALLY, they are all in their PJs and I tell them that I have to go pottty and I implore them, on the verge of stress tears, to just stay in the room. I throw some books into Silas’s crib, who is STILL crying BTW, and then Eli says HE has to go potty. I told him he had to hold it, I just HAD to go.

So this may be too much information and any male readers may want to skip this paragraph, but it is truly what happened and was a part of the chaos of this moment. I HAD to go to the bathroom because I could tell that my tampon had stopped working. I was bleeding down my leg and I needed to get that sorted before I got blood everywhere. So I went into my room, took care of my issue, walked pantsless into my room to get some new underwear and—you know—close the blinds. I went back into the bathroom and washed my hands, now fully dressed, to face the REST of bedtime, and I trip over a full humidifier and dump about half a gallon of water onto the carpet. I grabbed a beach towel and tried to pat the floor dry as best I could, then ran to the nursery to see what sort of atrocities my boys had managed to accomplish in my short time away.

Eli still needed to go potty so I took him into the bathroom and asked him, big potty or little potty, poop or pee. Finally he decided big potty, poop, so I helped him pull down his pants and sat him down. I ran to the nursery to try to calm Silas down, who was now cry/laughing in delirium, but there was nothing I could do but put him to sleep and I wasn’t ready until Eli was done on the potty.

Then, I smelled poop. I thought —OH! Eli must have pooped! Yay! Victory! Something to end the night on a positive note!— so I went into the bathroom. The poop smell was much stronger than it should have been, then I noticed that there was poop on the toilet and poop on his legs. It was in this moment that I realized, in my haste, I had put him on the toilet after he had already pooped in his pull-up. So, I left my poopy toddler sitting there asking for a book and I went into my room, grabbed a pillow and screamed for about 30 seconds.

I—still holding back stress tears—hearing the screams and cries of Reuben and Silas in the nursery, returned to the bathroom, wiped up the water on the edge of the tub and sat down and had a head-in-my-hands conversation with Eli.

Me: (muffled) “Do you still need to poop?”

Eli: (nonchalantly) “I want a book.”

Me: (muffled still, defeated) “Do you still need to pee?”

Eli: (bobbing his legs up and down mushing the poop more into everything) “No, I all done.”

I started to clean him up, I thought I could get his pull-up off without getting poop on his very-hard-to-find pajama pants by opening the side tabs, but I didn’t really have a good visual on the sucker and the poop fell with a plop onto the floor, hitting the pajama pants on the way down. Now I am just muttering under my breath, “I give up. It’s over. I’m done. I can’t do this.” whilst I clean up the poop from all the various surfaces. Eli wants an m&m for peeing in the potty while he walks, pantsless, back into his room. His request was denied.

Reuben, like a wild animal, was throwing ALL the blankets in the air and screaming with delight. Silas was whimpering, red faced, leaning on the side of his crib from exhaustion. I found some comfy day-time pants for Eli and told him to sit on his bed. I grabbed Silas with all his blankets and took him to his pack-n-play in our walk-in closet. I sang “Twinkle Twinkle” on the way, he leaned into me and we both sighed. I said a short prayer and tucked him in. I think he fell asleep in minutes.

Now to face the Wild Animal and the Poop Monster, awaiting my return in their room. This was a night for sleeping in different places. I was not about to go 20 rounds with Reuben and Eli being Angry Mom, “STAY IN BED! NO TALKING!” and I had no heart to sit and read Winnie-the-Pooh for a half hour until they fell asleep. I grabbed all of Eli’s stuff and moved him to the pack-n-play in the guest room. Put him down and tucked him in. I said a prayer and caressed his face, told him that I loved him and closed the door.

Reuben, I had to wrestle into his bed. He was still laughing and wiggling. I begged him to calm down, to lay still, to go to sleep. I turned off the lights and left him, sitting up in bed. I closed the door to the nursery and sat on the couch on the other side of his wall. He was singing and talking. I yelled at him, too tired to get up. He didn’t stop. I yelled at him again, and it went quiet. I sat on the couch and stared at the wall, thankful that it was over. Five minutes later, I heard the quiet creek of the door. I jump up and find Reuben sneaking out of his room. I grab him up and put him in Silas’ crib for the night. I prayed with him and we asked Jesus to help him calm down—because at this point, I think only the Almighty God could—I covered him up and closed the door.

I don’t have any revelations of the joy of motherhood after this half hour of chaos. I don’t have any words of wisdom to moms in this wonderful phase of toddlerdom. This night was about survival of the fittest, my endurance, my patience. The only thing I know is that we are all still here. Just the poop monsters, wild animals and me.