humor, parenting

Smoke, Mirrors and Reversible Underwear: Getting Used to the New Normal after Baby Number Two

I have five minutes, five minutes to start the shower, get in it and cleanse the spoiled breast milk from my body before one of the minions that has taken over the house begins to demand something from me, I have five minutes… at best.

I put Wren in her bassinet and wait. No arm movements, no scrunch face, stillness. This just might work. I dash into the living room and cue up Henry’s favorite part on “Mary Poppins”, the part where she takes all of the huge objects out of her carpet bag. You don’t have a couple extra minutes to spare in that thing for me, do you Mary? I know that he’ll be the easy minion, he’ll watch from this part until the end of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (Yup, had to google how to spell that) so that buys me a good fifteen minutes. But the new minion, the one that has grown very accustomed to me carrying her everywhere and sleeping on me… her I’m not so sure about.

So, with “Spoonful of Sugar” echoing through the house, I strip down and leap into the steamy box of wonder. But what used to be a five minute luxury break has now turned back into the game of beat the clock that it used to be when Henry was Wren’s age. Bu t I’m going to do this! I am! I love you children more than I can even say, but mom wants to feel like a human being this morning and not a sticky smelly Holstein cow.

I’m in the shower. Whew, I’ve made it this far. The door is wide open so I can hear if the minions start to plan a revolt. So be fair warned, reader, we have an open door bathroom policy now for Andy and I. So if you plan on breaking in and making off with any “valuables” that we may have, mid day, you might break in and find one of us on the toilet, door wide open, probably reading a picture book to Henry while we take care of our business. Or you could see an example of what a naked post-natal female body looks like coming out of the shower. My only real reference for those who have never seen one is the skinny fat “Pale man” from “Pan’s Labyrinth”. I even developed eyes on the palms of my hands to better watch my children. Here he is in case you need to be scarred as I have been.

So there I am in the shower trying to get all of the essentials done, the clock is ticking in my mind and all I can think about is that tiny time bomb out in her bassinet waiting to explode with cries, poop or pee at any second.

I look down at my thigh, the catheter that I had in for ten days post c-section was attached with a huge sticker that held clamps to hold the tubing. I was able to get the sticker off with some rubbing alcohol, but the glue that held the damn thing on was so thick that now there’s what appears to be an enormous oval tattoo of grey yuck half way up my leg. I have been chipping away at it with a wash cloth for days like a prisoner hacking away at the walls of his cell with a chisel. That thing was no fun and I don’t want any trace of it left on my body. But today, with t-minus 2 minutes left of sleeping baby, I chisel for a mere two seconds and give up. You win today grey oval of glue, but I’ll get you next time!

I rinse and leap back out, throw a towel around myself, they’re actually covering me now! Score for me! And rush into the bedroom. Dick Van Dyke is dancing with penguins still, Henry will still be good for another five minutes.

I start to get dressed, a task that should be easy by this point, but one that my own vanity has made nearly impossible. The baby is gone from my belly and so I refuse to put those maternity pants back on, no way, no how! My only choices are yoga pants and bed pants. Yoga pants are in the wash. Despite me wanting to feel like a productive member of society, I’ll have to go with the bed pants. They’re bright orange and wonderful! I chuck them on the bed.

I grab some underwear and get it half way up my legs before realizing they’re inside out. The little label that reads “Jessica Simpson” (I got them on sale at T.J. Maxx and have not been that impressed with them) is up against my stomach. This is as close to Jessica Simpson as I would ever want to be. I think to pull them back down again and turn them right side out, but then the ticking clock resounds in my ear. Turning these pink monstrosities right side out takes time… time I don’t have. I’m going to pull them up all the way and wear them inside out, damn it.

Jessica Simpson doesn’t care what I do with her underwear and right now neither do I. I’m going to knowingly wear my underwear inside out for the day, just so I can have a feeling of accomplishment. I, Meredith Gordon, completed my first shower with two children… alone. This is something that I don’t take lightly two weeks into this experience.

So there you have it reader. My first shower on my own and the first time since my daughter was born that I began to think that just like my inside out underwear under my clothes, we are all doing this with a lot of smoke and mirrors. The magician doesn’t really saw the woman in half and my underwear wasn’t right side out for the day. But that’s the showmanship of this whole thing. None of us know what in God’s name we’re doing, but as long as our kids are happy and we have clothes on, we sure as hell LOOK like we know what we’re doing.

At play group the other day, one mother came up to me and said,

“Well, you look like you’re handling things really well.” I told her just what I told you.

“It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.” Maybe I should have pulled down my orange bed pants to prove it.

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