It’s what happened at 5:30 AM the day after I let my 12 month old play in the sandbox while I chased my 3-year-old around the yard. Unbelievably sticky and nearly impossible to wipe, it evoked such a high-pitched scream from my son that the neighbors probably thought Mariah Carey was being tortured in my house.
Staring at the never-to-be-played-with-again sand, which was plastered all over the front and back of my son, I knew I had to pull out the big guns. I grabbed a Kit Kat bar from my daughter’s Halloween stash, ripped it open, and handed it to my wailing child. That’s right. I gave my 12 month old son a candy bar.
Within seconds, the screaming stopped, and I was able to remove enough of the mess to bring him to the kitchen sink. He kept inhaling the candy bar while I hosed him down. As I wrapped him in a towel and saw his chocolate-covered grin, I was overwhelmed with guilt. Not for his high-calorie pacifier, but for how many parents I’ve judged before for doing the exact same thing.
You see, when I first graduated nursing school several years ago, I was full of straight-from-the-book knowledge, but lacking any actual experience. My first job was in a pediatric ER, where I gave advice to parents on all sorts of things they were doing “wrong.” I wish I could go back and apologize to every one of them.
So… to the mom who admitted she co-slept with her 12 month old– I get you. I’m sorry I went on and on about the dangers of sleeping next to your baby. It was probably the only way you could get any sleep. I know this now because I’ve been co-sleeping with my daughter for over two years. Every time my pediatrician tells me it’s bad, I roll my eyes and think, “You don’t understand!”
To the dad whose son got bit by a dog at the park—I get you. I’m sorry I even mentioned the dangers of letting your child pet an animal they aren’t familiar with, as if you didn’t already know that. My daughter would attempt to pet a grizzly bear if it walked up to her. I’ve learned that you probably didn’t “let” your son pet that dog, sometimes you just can’t stop your child in time.
To the mom who I quietly judged when her toddler had his own tablet – I get you. Before having kids, I swore I’d abide by the “no screen time before age two” rule. Ha! By her second birthday, my daughter knew how to use my phone better than I did.
To the parents who couldn’t make eye contact when they told me their son, being seen for vomiting, had eaten nothing but sugary food all weekend – I get you. Back then, I knew my future children would only eat organic food. Unless Toaster Strudels and Kit Kats are certified organic, I’m pretty sure I’m doing no better than you were.
To all the moms and dads who threatened to have me fired if I didn’t get their child’s IV in on the first stick—I get you. Although your threats actually lessened the chance of me getting it the first try, I now feel your pain. My pediatrician’s nurse is nice and does a great job. But man, I hate that bitch.
To all the parents who used bribery to get their kid to sit still for their exam—oh, do I get you! I remember thinking that my future kids would be so well-behaved that they wouldn’t need bribes. Now, if it weren’t for the occasional (or maybe nonstop) bribing, my daughter would always be naked and unfed.
Sand poop aside, I truly do enjoy being a mother. So now when I’m dragging my screaming children through Target and some twenty-something woman looks at me like I’m crazy (could be the frizzy hair or the fact that I haven’t worn makeup since 2011) – I smile and think, “You’ll get me one day.”