S had broken me of my ridiculous need to clean and arrange and organize everything all of the time. It wasn’t a helpful kind of obsession I had with these things. Mostly, it was years of procrastinating grading middle schoolers’ papers that had made me a little too fond of cleaning toilets and sweeping floors. You could always tell by the state of my house when I’d assigned an essay to my students.
Fast-forward to the birth of S. As I’ve mentioned before, once or twice, the first couple of weeks (months) of baby care is tough. There’s blood, pain, sitting on the blood and pain for too long, and lots and lots of NO SLEEP. Sweeping the floors isn’t a priority. S did a fabulous job of readjusting my priorities when it comes to cleaning. I don’t have anxiety attacks when there are piles of clean, unfolded clothes on the couch and it’s time for Baby StoryTime. We just get out of this filth-nest. I still keep this place clean enough so that the roly poly bugs aren’t dragging dust bunnies behind them as they trek across the hallway, and I’m feeling much better now that my OCD seems to be under control. My quality of life is better when I don’t snap at a loved one for leaving their backpack in the wrong place or pooping on freshly-washed blankets.
Fast-forward to the clingy, non-mobile baby phase. S lay on her back or belly, scream-whining or sucking on the carpet/ tile/ yoga mat. She could roll around and reach crumbs and stones and bits of plants that B had dropped on the floor. I could sit there and sit there and sit there with her, or I could grab the junk on the floor, jump up and run to the trash, and deal with her shrieking. So, I adapted, just like a good mother should: I just chucked the junk out of reach. It was not a problem for us behind the TV or down the hallway. Awesome.
I have adapted so well that when S and I were invited over to a friend’s house for a one-year birthday party, I didn’t even think twice. Goldfish crumbs and puffed rice were reproducing and starting colonies on the carpeted play area, and here comes my little choker and a couple of gluten-free kids. Like a ninja, I cleared the path for the crawling slobberers and nearly invisibly tossed the bits behind the furniture. Well, almost invisibly. The living room owner saw me and said, “Yeah, just throw it behind there.” It took me a couple of seconds (days) to realize that that probably wasn’t the best a ninja could do: there was a plant just a couple feet away! I forgot the ABCs of “crumb triage.” A)lways look for a plant to throw shit in. B)efore you do anything, make sure no one is looking. C)huck object. After I was caught, I tried to deflect any judgement by telling a story about how B picks his nose and puts it in the plants, when really, that’s just what we all do in this house. (S will learn.) Happy First Birthday, friend! Here’s a pile of shit behind your furniture! Next time I will not forget crumb triage. Or, maybe I will have a better plan…
Fast-forward to mobile baby. Crap poop poop crap! Now I have to clean again, and my motivation is: Baby Will Not Eat Dusty Hairballs and Dead Millipedes. This is not easy. Babies have radar for all of the Danger and Disgusting in a place and they head right for it with their mouths open. So, it’s kind of a priority again. And all the plants are banished to the hallway until S goes to college. Crap, pooooooop!
S on her second day of crawling: