Breaking The “I Would Never” Rule

Are you a parent, who swore pre-kids, that you’d never do certain things? How often do you break your own “I would never” rule? Don’t fret, we’re guilty of doing it, too!

by Laura Onstot | Laura Onstot, registered nurse and mom of 2 young kids, rarely pees alone, only frequents restaurants with Kraft Mac N Cheese, and blogs at Nomad’s Land. In her spare time, she can be found sleeping on the couch while she lets her kids watch endless episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Her parenting advice is questionable, but at least she’s honest. Follow her on Twitter @LauraOnstot.

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I was in the middle of a flight, sandwiched between my daughters when my 3-year-old announced that her stomach hurt.

She’s our puker. She pukes when she has colds. She pukes when she doesn’t like how food tastes. And she pukes A LOT when we travel, and usually, it is unannounced. But thanks to her warning, I pulled her mask down, grabbed the puke bag out of the seat pocket, and thrust it under her chin.

She tried to bat it away.

“Relax!” I yelled as I shoved it back under her chin, “Let it out, just let it out.” I held the bag as she erupted. I caught every drop of puke in the bag. And I thought to myself, “I have reached new parenting heights. This, this, is expert level.”

When she was finished, I pulled her mask up, because, COVID times, am I right? She snuggled back into her seat and was captivated by Mickey Mouse Club House playing on her seatback TV.

I prepared to settle back into my own seat when I noticed that her mask had a splotch of puke on it- right on the nose. It wasn’t a huge splotch. I’d say, it was the same size as a cluster of 3 fruit snacks. And clearly, it wasn’t bothering her.

Did I want to disrupt our whole row by pulling my massive carry-on backpack out from under the seat, and root in it until I was elbow deep to find a new mask? And then disrupt my peaceful, post-puke child, who wasn’t showing any signs of future eruptions?

Why would I do that? But also, why would I let my kid wear a puke-covered mask?

Finding Someone to Compare Myself to

There have been plenty of regrettable moments in my journey with parenthood, I’ll be the first to admit. But did I want “allowing my child to wear a puke covered mask” to join the list?

I racked my brain. When I’m in situations like these, I compare myself to others. Very unhealthy, I know. But I need someone to measure myself up against. Someone who I can look at and say, “Well, at least I’m doing better than….”

Yes, I’m one of those people. But I bet you have an ounce of it in your soul too. I had to go deep on this one, because letting my kid wear a puke covered mask ranked as pretty gross in my book. And then I remembered a story my friend told me, all the way back in fifth grade.

The Story of the Red-Hot

She was young, maybe 4 or so, eating a red hot. You know, the kind that is always a little too crunchy, a little too stale, but that kids use at least 20 per square inch of gingerbread? Yeah, that kind.

While she was savoring this goodness, she started choking on it. Eventually, she vomited, and atop the pile of vomit lay her red hot. She was upset. Because she liked the red hot. But also, because she puked and puking is no fun. So, her mom, trying to comfort her, plucks the red hot out of her pile of vomit, and offers it back to her. Thankfully, she, the smart child that she is, did not eat it.

When I first heard this story in fifth grade, I declared that when I was a parent, I would never do anything like that. Furthermore,  I vowed I would never touch vomit. 

Breaking the “I would never” rules

And yet here I was, on a plane, about to let my kid wear a puke-covered mask. Had I reached the level of plucking red hots out of puke and feeding them back to my kid? No, not quite. But I was dangerously close, straddling the fence.

And this wasn’t the first time. 

Once, I sprinkled cheerios on the floor for my one-year-olds birthday dinner because she liked eating off the floor and she liked cheerios. In defense of myself, there was no point in cooking her a birthday dinner that she wasn’t going to eat. And when dinner cleanup was as easy as vacuuming cheerios off the floor, it felt like a win to me.

Another time, I picked up a poop log with only a paper-thin barrier of toilet paper between my hands and it. A turd, that my potty training toddler had lovingly left in her room as a little surprise for me when I left to shower after 48 hours of the no-pants potty training from hell method. It was still warm.

Many a night, I threw a towel over pee soaked sheets, re-tucked my child in, and kissed her goodnight.

Heck, I let my kid sit in a car seat that has an entire corner filled with dropped snacks: pretzels, goldfish, raisins, and a half-eaten meat stick. She has meat stick juice grease stains on the butts of all her shorts. And yes, I realize that in the time it took me to write this paragraph, I could have gone and vacuumed it out. 

Parenthood Induced Rule-Breaking

You see, parenthood is full of breaking the  “I would never” rules. Because, our holier-than-thou, pre-kid selves had no idea that parenthood is a survival-of-the-fittest, kind of adventure. 

It is letting them watch their tablets for 8 hours so you can get the house clean, it is picking up the dropped pacifier and shoving it back into your baby’s mouth, germs and all. It’s that slow motion brain monologue when you realize, as their hand brings a fruit snack up to their mouth, that they touched a dead squirrel two minutes ago and haven’t washed their hands yet. Or when they ask you if they can skip their bath, or not brush their hair, or if you could just wipe their butt for them so they don’t have to get their hands dirty. Most of these rules you break, will be broken with a sigh and a flood of mom guilt.

But hopefully soon, you’ll realize that every parent does things they said they’d never do. And that you are not alone.  I would submit that the red-hot puke plucking mom actually had it right. Or at least she rolled in the same direction as the punch. Maybe we are all just doing the best we can. 

Cards well played. I salute you, Red-Hot mom. 

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