When Shonda Rhimes is asked, “how do you do it all?” She simply replies: “I don’t. Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life…something is always missing….anyone who tells you they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.”
I read this in her book, Year of Yes earlier this year and it was an a-ha moment for me. How many of us believed that being a good mom means knowing exactly what to do, when, how and with little to no help? *raises hand* How many of us regularly think that other moms are succeeding and flawlessly winning at this mom thing? *raises hand* How many of us have felt like failures while doing something seemingly simple, yet the reaction from your kid is like all hell has broken loose? *raises hand* I shared a little while ago on my Instagram that I wasn’t managing bathing Kai. Yes, bathing. So simple, right? It was all good when he was a lazy baby, who could barely sit up and I’d plunk him in his baby bath seat in the bathtub and he’d gently swish his little legs in the water and coo lovingly in my eyes.
Well, that changed once he was standing comfortably on his own. Almost overnight, bath time became the bane of my life. Kai absolutely hated it. Before he could even utter several words, he knew what “bath” meant and he’d start screaming long before we’d even reach the bathroom door. His room is right opposite our bathroom, and he’d sometimes run from the bathroom into his room while I was trying to undress him. Then once he was in the bathtub, he’d flail and thrash his body about (whilst standing, mind you). It became a workout trying to hold him with one hand and wash him with the other. There was no way I could let go of him, for fear of him banging his head on the bathtub. And I was alone in this. Once I’m back from work, I’m on Mommy duty while Kev cooks dinner. Kai’s bedtime routine includes me giving him dinner, then a bath, followed by getting into jammies and reading several books before it’s lights out. After a long and stressful day at work, the last thing I could handle was dealing with a ridiculously uncooperative toddler, whose strength was increasing exponentially. The worst thing was, he didn’t give his grandparents this issue when he’d spend the night there, neither did he flail a limb when his dad would have to bath him if I couldn’t make it home by dinner time, or I was sick.
That cynical little mom genie (that I’m sure lives in all of us) crept out of her hiding place and started whispering to me “ha! You can’t even bath your son? What kind of mom are you?”. She’s not my favourite being. I found myself going online, asking my mom and mama friends what I can do. No one had really had an issue like this, saying bath time was usually a playful, bonding moment. Others left it to the nanny to do. Oh, how I wish that was the case with us. It wasn’t one of those things I could just back out of – I tried to trade the duties with the hubby so I can cook instead. He wasn’t keen. So what could I do? The boy needs a bath! I bought new toys, I tried to surprise him with bath time to avoid the dreadful lead up, I tried to bribe him with a treat. Nothing worked. I was hell-bent on figuring out how to do this by myself. Don’t we all?
Then one morning, after Kai had conked out the previous night (before I could bath him), I geared up to give him a quick one in the morning before I went to work. Kai’s nanny arrives in the mornings, so as a final resort, I asked her to help me. She’s not a spring chicken, so I couldn’t leave all the bath duties to her, especially if I was struggling on my own. So, I asked her to hold and distract him while I actually bathed him. Hardly a peep from this boy. When he remembered that he hated bath time, and start acting up, she was able to gently restrain him while so I could finish the job. We did this tag teaming stint for a couple of weeks, until one day I saw he was actually enjoying his bath. He just needed to get used to it and see that it can actually be fun – not possible to do when he’s thrashing about. He’s now helping me prepare his bath by putting toys, shower products, scrubs, anything he could get his hands on into the tub with him and playing with them. He still has his moments, when he is too tired or just moody but I now have the confidence and patience to handle him myself. I really just needed help.
Let’s not forget the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. Because it really does. We’re not villages, and more so than not, it’s okay for mamas to ask for help. So, #TrustYourWay and show your little mom genie she’s got nothing on you by leaning on your village when you know you need it.
How have you conquered a previously basic but it’s-just-not-going-my-way mommy duty?
In partnership with Baby Dove.