Erin Chawla: The Kiducation Learning Curve


New Moms, I Promise: One Day You Will Have a Shower

the early years aren't for the faint of heart

I will always remember the "incident." I share it here, in all its new-mom glory, not because I want the world to know the embarrassing details of my life, but because if another mom early in the journey recognizes themselves and sees some laughter and some hope, then it's a job well done.

My eldest was just over two, and my youngest had arrived only two days before - all 10 pounds of her quickly making her way through the “traditional” baby passage. The morning of the incident, the elder had an inoculation and suffered a poor reaction. She spent the afternoon on the couch, tearful and listless and occasionally announcing “my arms feel heavy.” The younger had passed her newborn check-up without concern but was cluster feeding... or maybe it was just her normal daily demand. What did I know? We had basically just met.

My mom had been helping me, but this day she had gone home for some reason. Thank goodness, my wonderful nanny had come in for a few hours to give me a hand.

Like so many new moms, I was focused on the kids. The baby needed me. The toddler needed me. I didn't devote nearly enough time or energy to noticing that my healing body also needed me.

So, when I felt the beginning of some uncomfortable wetness, I dashed to the closest bathroom, newborn in arms, thinking it was a blood situation. But as I stepped onto the tile, I recognized it was a (blush) urine situation.

Guess that 10-pounder took her toll.

Anyway, I found myself with my newborn lying on a less-than-sterile bath mat while questions rushed around my overtired mind.

How will I clean myself and re-dress without exposing myself to our nanny? (I managed with some fast moves and covert footwork.) Is this two-day old child be traumatized from being left alone on the floor? (She seems fine, two years later.) Is it worth trying to save my most comfortable yoga pants? (Sadly, no, and I still miss them.) Is my bladder-control forever changed? (Thankfully not.) And loudest of all: HOW WILL I COPE WITH ALL THIS? CAN I REALLY DO THIS PARENTING THING? (Some days I didn't cope, but most days I did.)

Truly, every day from that moment forward, things got a little easier. But sometimes I forgot to notice. I didn't recognize the first time I cooked dinner without a child on my legs. I didn't celebrate the first time the girls made it up and down the stairs independently.

Things that happen gradually often catch me off guard. The full moon seems to just appear every time. I'll suddenly wonder when my toenails got so long, or that the sun isn't setting until eight at night.

And just like that, this week I realized I was taking a shower - an autonomous, decadent shower - without any little faces peering behind the curtain and without obsessively checking on a baby in their bouncy seat or timing my shower during nap time. Without thought or concern, I jumped in the shower while my girls happily played together outside the bathroom door.

A while back, I gave away the baby clothes, and it was bittersweet. A part of me felt wistful for the newborn days. But, the journey keeps getting easier. One day they'll both use the bathroom without help, the baby will sleep in her own bed every night, and they'll walk to school independently. I see my friends who are ahead of me with their weekends away and their time for hobbies, and I know those days are coming. I miss the baby days, and a part of me envies the kids-can-stay-home-alone era, but for now I'll joyfully celebrate the carefree shower years!

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