It happens to every mom. What starts out as a routine bath/meal/diaper change turns into a circus. One small thing goes wrong and suddenly things snow ball out of control. You look up and wonder when your life turned into a sitcom and why you aren’t getting paid as well as Charlie Sheen. Your life is at least as interesting as Two and a Half Men, and that’s just laundry day.
For the past few weeks I’ve been letting Josh give H her bath while I wash the dishes from the day. With a bar sink and no dish washer, you really have to wash the dishes every day. Usually by the time 6:30 rolls around, I’m all parented out. I’ve been perfectly happy to let Dad take care of an easy and fun bath time. But tonight I was tired of dirty dishes and scalding hot water.
“I’ll do bath; you do dishes,” I say. Famous last words.
H gets her baths in an inflatable infant tub in the shower stall. Obviously. I toss the tub in, turn on the water, and stand there a few moments to make sure the temperature was ok. One of the many quirky details of life in Altus, America is that the shower has a one-eighth inch area of the temperature gauge that is warm but not scalding. Anything above that prescribed zone will burn your skin off; anything below will freeze you to death.
Showers, being the fascinating machines they are, interest H. When she discovered I had the water on, she comes right over and tries to climb in the tub. We’ve let her get in while the tub fills a few times. This has eliminated any qualms she feels about climbing in while the water is on. If she were naked already, then there would be no problem. But she was fully clothed. Thankfully only the burp cloth got soaked.
Meanwhile, H was stinking to high heaven. Poopy diaper off and baby naked, we were ready for bath time. Cloth diapers being what they are, the dirty diaper needed a trip to the bathroom to dispose of the nastiness. As I walk into the bathroom ahead of H, the dirty diaper in my hand swings and a single clump of poo falls to the floor. “Shit,” I think, no pun intended. Immediately I turn to H, who was following me, and say firmly, “Stop!” The last thing I want is for her to a) step in it or b) pick it up.
Dutifully H stops in the door to the bathroom, naked as a jay bird. And promptly pees.
I stand there, momentarily frozen, with a full diaper in one hand, poo on the floor, and a baby peeing on the floor of my hotel room—only most of it on the tile. My eyes dart to the toilet paper holder. Can I quickly get some toilet paper to scoop up the poo? No, I cannot. Half of a sheet of paper clings to the brown cardboard tube, mocking me. (This is almost certainly my own fault, brought about by my passive aggressive hatred of this place.)
I scream for back up, and Josh comes running. I drop the dirty diaper on the floor, scoop up the recently peeing child and deposit her in the tub to play safely while we clean up the mess.
Josh mops up the pee with a wash cloth. (This is not my first choice, but I’m not about to complain. “Pee is sterile,” he reminds me.) I use the remaining half a square of toilet paper to grab the poo off the floor. Next I turn the diaper out over the toilet (the joys of cloth). Sadly, this is one of those occasions where a squirmy baby equals poo that eludes the carefully placed diaper liner. More personalized attention is required to jiggle, scrape, and dunk the diaper.
In the middle of this process I realize that I still haven’t gotten a new roll of toilet paper. I grab the generic paper off the back of the toilet and gamely try to take the wrapper off of it with one hand while holding the dirty diaper over the toilet with the other. Just as I succeed in this feat of one-handed gymnastics I turn to check on H and see this:
Yes, that’s right. She was holding a leather shoe when she peed on the floor. And I neglected to remove it from her hand when I dropped her in the tub. It is now a bath toy. She dips it in the water, lifting and watching the water pour out of the Mary Jane.
It’s at this moment that you can choose to laugh or cry. Given all the trials we’ve been through in these two small rooms, I really wanted to cry. Josh looked at me just then, his eyes dancing, and he laughed as he said, “You’ve got to laugh.” So we did.