Saturday, June 21, 2008

The painful side of parenting

Before you have kids, people always tell you about the highs and lows: the happiness and disappointments, the exhilaration and exhaustion, the pride and the worry. It sometimes seems parenting is defined by its dichotomies. Yet no one tells you about the pain. 

I'm not talking about your wounded ego when your grade schooler wants to walk to school alone because she's too embarrassed to be seen with her mom, or the hole you feel in your heart when you find a thong in your teenage daughter's laundry or your adolescent son is caught cutting the whiskers off all the neighborhood cats. I'm talking about the physical pain — the kind I feel when my three year old stomps on my bare foot with his hiking boot or kicks me in the chin when we're snuggling or pokes me in the eye when he's trying to get my attention by waving his hand in front of my face or pulling my chin toward him. I'm talking about those eye-watering, breath-holding moments when I want to scream the F word and check the mirror for blood. No one ever told me about that pain.

Last weekend, Josh decided at the last minute to jump off the kitchen stool that I was helping him down from, and he ran his head into the underside of my chin, causing me to bite a chunk of my lip off while simultaneously banging my jaw shut. Then later that night, he decided to give me a kiss on my cheek that, without warning, turned into a bite. And he has developed this nasty habit of suddenly walking right in front of me on purpose, so that I trip over him. It's not enough that I trip multiple times a day over his toys or the bathroom stool, but now he must actively (and unexpectedly) throw me off balance as well. 

This physical abuse has become so common that I can't even remember the story behind every cut or bruise I have at any one time. But I know they are all preschooler-induced. And I am never surprised to discover a new one. 

To add insult to injury, when Josh isn't inflicting unintentional physical harm, he's inflicting unintentional stains. Dirty fingers, overzealous conversations with his mouth full, and careless leave-behinds on the tabletop wreak havoc on my clothes. There's no such thing as a white shirt in my closet anymore. I often can't wear a clean pair of pants for more than ten minutes before they are dirty. And if I dare to dress up, I regret it. 

So I hobble around in my mommy uniform — a dark T-shirt and cargo pants — avoiding the plastic garbage trucks and little plastic hockey guys in my path, favoring my right arm and re-bandaging my left knee, hoping all these bumps and bruises won't leave any permanent marks — only permanent memories of a boyhood lived out loud.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Found you through Mom Bloggers Club.
You just might need to add a Suit-of-Armor to your "Mommy Uniform"!

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