Okay, first of all, let me clear something up: I love my daughters. They’re my life. I don’t know what on earth I would do without them. They’ve taught me about love, patience, and a thousand other things. They are hilarious, sensitive, caring, kind, and just all around good kids.
But I will say it here for the record. Babies are boring. Like, really boring.
Sure, babies are fun to cuddle. They’re cute (when they’re not crying or pooping.) They smell great (when they’re not crying or pooping.) And they are just so darn innocent (when they’re not crying or pooping.)
But babies don’t do anything. They are either sleeping, crying, pooping, or eating. To be honest, none of those things are any fun to watch. Watching a baby sleep gets real boring, real quick. Watching a baby cry is, I’m pretty sure, what we torture people with. Watching a baby eat? More like watch a baby foam at the mouth.
Sure, they’re my kids. I love them. But deep down, I’m really looking forward to the moment when they can interact with me. Selfish? Probably. Realistic? Definitely.
I was prepared for dirty diapers. I mentally prepared for it. Sure it’s gross, but it’s your own kid, so you kind of learn to deal with it (not that you ever get used to it.) You learn to just accept it as part of parenting. Diapers, I can deal with.
I was not prepared for the puke. Avery took to nursing like a champ, but there was just this one problem. She was a puker. Now, for those without kids, there’s a difference between spitting up and puking. Spitting up is just natural. Happens all the time. You keep a burp cloth handy, and catch the little bit of excess, like when you pour a beer to quick and overflow your glass. No big deal. This was not that. This was not spitting up.
This was like someone shook a beer for an hour and then opened it. This was the Mentos in the bottle of Coke phenomenon. This was more liquid than, to this day, I have ever seen come out of a person. Niagara Falls, bottled up inside of my infant child. Only this Niagara wasn’t awe-inspiring, or beautiful, or anything tourists would drive for. This Niagara smelled like old, curdled milk. I lived in a house with 50 guys in college, and I’ve never smelled anything worse than what would come shooting out of Avery.
This is going to get graphic for a minute. Once I was holding Avery after I had changed her. Holding her like you hold a baby. Not by my head, but cradling her. I looked down at her and went to say something, which she took as the prime opportunity. It was like she had been waiting. Gravity-be-damned, she threw up into the air, directly into my open mouth. She threw up. In my mouth.
Still want kids? If so, you may just be ready.
The most obnoxious part of this whole phenomenon was that Avery wouldn’t just throw up while she was eating. That would’ve been far too convenient. Far too predictable. Avery would throw up with no warning. None.I still remember the most heartbreaking thing that I have ever experienced as a parent, and yes, it involves vomit (a lot of parenting stories do. We’re kind of like a fraternity in that way.)
It was roughly 1AM (because kids never do anything during the day. They wait until you’re asleep.) I was sound asleep. Like so asleep I probably had the pillow lines on my face. Sleeping hard. We had just been in Avery’s room to put her back to sleep for roughly the twentieth time, so needless to say, I wasn’t in the best mood. She started stirring again, making little noises in the monitor. Not enough to wake me up, but just enough to prevent me from falling back asleep (kind of her, huh?) Finally, I couldn’t handle it. I walked into her room, and rather harshly said, “Avery, you need to go to s….” Before I could finish my word, I smelled that overwhelming odor that I knew all too well.
I turned on the light and there was throw up everywhere. Walls, floors, crib, stuffed animals, hair, everywhere. And she was eating solid food now, so it wasn’t milk throw up, it was food throw up (again, very much like a fraternity in that way.)
She had it caked in her hair, and as I bent over her crib to get her up to change her, she looked at me, and with a single tear rolling down her cheek (of course) she said, in her high-pitched little voice,“Daddy, I need help.” Yup. My heart fell through the bottom of my feet. It was the most frustrating moment, (hello, i’m cleaning up vomit at 1AM) and yet one of the most tender moments I’ve ever experienced as a parent. She was relying completely on me. She was completely helpless. If I didn’t clean her up, she would wallow in that stink for who knows how long.
I think about that day often. I think about how immense this responsibility is that I’ve been given. I think about my precious Avery, who is now nearing the end of first grade and I am in awe of what I’ve been entrusted with. I think about Rylee, my middle daughter, who when she gets hurt, will only be consoled by crawling up into my lap. I think about my one year-old, Hattie, who screams bloody murder when Rachel leaves the room most of the time.
At the end of the day, aren’t we the lucky ones? The ones who get to put on the bandaids? The ones who get to convince our kids that the stubbed toe is not the end of the world. Aren’t we the lucky ones who get to bend over, pick up the puke-covered kid and calmly reassure them?
“I’m right here. I’ll clean you up.”