Have you ever done something and then wondered, “Crap, when do kids actually start remembering things?” For Kristi Valentini, this would be one of those times. She chronicles life with back-to-back babies at Mommy Crib Notes.
In a mad moment of parental anger, have you ever done or said something you regretted? You desperately wish to step out of the room, walk back in and do the scene over, different, better.
While I’ve had multiple “do-over” moments, the worst one rattles against my ribcage making all my innards ache. It was the beginning of the poop-capades era for my two-year-old Sophia. We had put our solid 12-hour sleeper to bed, innocently unaware of what her exploring mind would present us with 43 minutes from the last “night-nights” kiss.
Monitoring our babies, like good Gen X parents do, with video surveillance, we realized something was amiss when the screen revealed Sophia’s naked booty waving hello to the camera. Uh-oh, Operation Diaper Back On needed stat! I raced upstairs preparing to whip a diaper on, pull on her PJs, plop her back in bed and be done. I took three steps into her room and froze.
What the f@!$%?
Even with the lights dimmed I could see smears of poop on her face, caking the bars of the crib, and chunks had been thrown on the ground. I was in such shock I couldn’t utter a sound at the smirking face greeting me from “Casa de la Ca-Ca.” I fled the room and found my husband so we could tackle the situation together. (Why should I face such horror alone?)
Angered to find her still smiling amongst her poop art, and wanting to drive a point home, I stared her down and disgustedly spat, “Yuck!” Her face crumpled like a piece of foil and she began to wail in shame. Instantly, the mean grip of regret clutched my heart, and squeezed.
My composure regained, I calmly scrubbed the crib and changed the sheets while my husband gave Sophia a quiet bath. Before we had even tucked Sophia back in her fresh bed, a litany was running through my head:
“Don’t memories start at age two? What if her first memory is me being disgusted with her? Oh God, I hope that she doesn’t remember that. I just know she will. It’s human nature to remember the bad and forget the good. I tried so hard to make the first two years of her life loving, secure and fun and it doesn’t matter because her first memory is going to be that awful moment!”
Parental regret is the evil cousin of second guessing offering no do-overs, no matter how desperately you want them, only do-betters next time. There’s no happy ending to this story because I won’t know the outcome for years to come. Some day when’s she’s an adult, I’ll nervously ask her what her earliest childhood memory is, and hold my breath hoping for a layer of mommy guilt to be wiped away.