We officially started TJ on cloth diapers this weekend. He has always battled crazy diaper rashes, red splotches of skin that appeared despite diaper changes, creams and oatmeal baths. In these hippie dippie diapers, there are no bouts of raw skin, just a butt size that has ballooned exponentially thanks to so much padding.
Nathan has been more tricky to attend to. He is my sweet boy that asks to me to read him, “Children Make Terrible Pets,” repeatedly because he imagines a world where bears and humans can co-exist. And what did I do to my baby? I yelled at him. Twice.
It was at a co-worker’s house, where my team at work had gathered with all 10 of our children. There was noise and toys and games and cheese pizza or lunch. It was going beautifully until someone threw a plastic ride-on toy down the stairs and without investigating who had done it, which my other co-worker said Nathan wasn’t responsible, I yelled at him, calling out his full name and chastising him for doing something so dangerous. Then as we were leaving, I carried TJ and three heavy bags to the car and Nathan ran out to the side of our car that faced the street. I called over the roof for him to move to the other side, my voice growing louder as he didn’t budge.
A car slowly passed and I performed the maternal feat of both yelling at him at the same time holding my breath that nothing terrible happens in those few moments. Of course nothing happened, but once again my defective mothering surfaced, a stunning example of a woman who doesn’t have it together and resorts to wide open-mouthed shouting to keep her child from being clipped by oncoming traffic.
At home, I can handle them both. I don’t mind reading books, cutting thr crusts off of sandwiches or choosing a shade of blue clothing that a four-year-old will not fight. I don’t mind cloth diapers–the ceremony of rinsing out pee and poop then the steps to wash, hang, dry. Yet outside my home, I become too aware of what my child isn’t doing, the thanks he isn’t giving, the number of times he asks for juice instead of water. I am in constant need of a time out. I work harder and harder for any semblance of effective parenting, stepping deeper and deeper into my own leavings of a crappy mom.