Before I had kids I had this very clear picture of what kind of parent I would be. My kids would always be clean and well-dressed. We wouldn’t watch screens and I wouldn’t loose my patience on them. We would play on the floor all day, and my house would stay clean and organized. We would have an expert level routine that kept them feeling safe and entertained at all times.
I almost can’t even type these words without laughing now. The reality looks like a sad attempt at some of these things, and a total collapse of others.
Today my husband and I spent time swapping between playing with our wild toddler, and completing the long list of weekend chores. It felt like a productive and fun morning – I actually thought for a minute “we’re killing this adult game today!” That should have been the first hint that the day would turn. While folding laundry I kept one eye on our son who had found himself pleasantly entertained by dropping a plastic ball on the floor and watching it roll away and then gleefully chasing after it- repeat over and over. So while there were moments out of my sight, I could hear the repeated sound of the ball hit the floor and the patter of his feet running behind.
It was only a moment later I realized that I didn’t hear it anymore. And as any parent can likely relate the sound of quiet is the single most dangerous and terrifying sound. Nothing good comes from quiet.
I turn the corner where I find my 16 month old covered in red paint. The paint danced around the floor in front of him in a pattern of little toddler hand waves, his legs splattered with the evidence that the feeling of the paint against his skin felt good. He had the jar of paint in one hand and the white (now painted red) cap in the other. He was trying to put the cap back on – a game he loves with Tupperware.
This picture I was staring at is what the before kids version of myself would have thought “that would never happen to me as a parent.” Of course, the before kids version of myself was delusional under the best of circumstances because, really? With kids, anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Once you are a parent, you somehow understand that all too well.
After a quick bath and some effort to clean the floor the only remaining evidence of the incident was the paint filled pajama shirt that needed to be washed. Of course, I will say, I am beyond grateful the paint explosion was with washable paint, and that it happened on my hard floors and not a carpet!
The bigger lesson for me as a mom was that my son loved the paint! And I thought, we should play with paint more. He loved the texture and the way it felt. He even loved watching the color rinse off in the sink, the way the red paint bled right into the water streaming across his leg. When I found him there on the floor he laughed, he was gratefully safe, and well entertained! I couldn’t help but laugh with him and the laughter continued right through his sink bath.
I’m not the perfect mom I pictured before kids, sometimes I do lose my patience, we do watch cartoons more than I thought we would. My house isn’t always clean, and our routine could use some help. But I love this boy of mine more than I ever knew I could love someone, and keeping him safe and well entertained is still my favorite part of a day. I think that means we’re doing alright!