Important Background Information: My daughter loves to wipes surfaces. She likes to wipe down the whiteboard, getting rid of all the
marks. She likes to wipe tables,
pretending to clean up. She likes to do this with boogie wipes, disposable baby wipes, and if she has to, a tissue or other dry cloth.
The story: My daughter had pooped. I put the changing pad on the floor so she could have some agency, at 20 months, in the changing process. I wiped her, and put on a clean diaper. I got her dressed for bed. I went to wash my hands. She still had some time before bed, so I let her play by herself, not worrying about where she was.
The next thing I know, my daughter is wiping surfaces. I didn’t give her a wipe, so I go to investigate, and find that she has taken a wipe out of the diaper I had stupidly left on the floor. I had made a parenting mistake in my haste to wash my hands. Oops. So I take the old wipe away, wash her hands, give her a clean wipe, and wash my hands. I’m a little concerned, because I can’t find the diaper where I left it, but it doesn’t bother me — it’ll turn up. I post on Facebook about it because I feel it’s right to be honest and vulnerable about the mistakes that you make when you’re parenting, especially when you tend to share the stories that you find inspiring and beautiful, like I do. (And sometimes you complain. It’s a continuum and balance.)
All the comments were about how disgusted they are. Someone sticks their tongue out at me, someone says they puked a little in their mouth, another that it was TMI. And I felt shame. I was ashamed that I had been absent minded, that my daughter had some something unintentionally disgusting. Shame is silencing.
I deleted the post. And then I got mad. I ranted to my friend (and cousin) Scroogy. She reassured me. And then I wrote this post.
All parents make mistakes. But we don’t talk about them. We don’t talk about them because we’re afraid that our mistakes will make us unfit parents. If we’re honest about
them with other people, we’re being vulnerable — and the people who commented did not respect my vulnerability.
The Moral: Shame and fear put us into silos where we feel all alone as mothers and caregivers. We constantly worry that we’re not good enough. I feel a sense of responsibility to share my experiences so that people don’t feel that they’re alone, but it is so hard. It is so hard when people who are supposed to be your family and friends, your supporters and cheerleaders, decide that your reality is too much for them.
I’m saying no to that.
I’m going to tell you about my depression, in all of its darkness and worry and anxiety and fear.
I’m going to tell you about my mistakes, in all of their grossness and pain and horror.
And I’m going to tell you about the beautiful things in life, and the ones that make me proud.
Because you know what? My daughter picked up her diaper off the floor and threw it away. That’s why I couldn’t find it, and that’s how she found the wipe — she was cleaning up after herself. I am damn proud of that, even if the pride is wrapped up in the embarrassment of a yucky thing she did.
I am going to keep telling my vulnerabilities, so other people out there don’t feel so alone. I hope you do too.