ON MY MIND: I swear — I didn’t mean to do it
It is a sad day when you realize you have screwed your kids over. Even if you didn’t mean to do it. Even if everyone else did the same thing. It still makes you feel all low. And it helps you understand why your kids aren’t all perfect.
My day of realization began when I attended a baby shower recently. As the cute mommy-to-be opened gift after gift — she might as well have hit me with a hammer while saying, “See, you did this wrong. You did that wrong. Your poor kids never had a chance.”
Where do I begin? There are so many ways we failed. First, we wiped our kids bottoms with cold wash cloths. We didn’t have “wipe warmers” so each time we shocked our babes with cold gotchas. That may be our biggest failing.
When we took them to Meijers, we just stuck them in the cart. We never even considered having padded cart liners to keep them from the germs left by previous urchins. Nah, we just shoved them in, let them teethe and suck on the cart bar and didn’t pay any attention to how this would affect them in the long run. As long as they were quiet, we were happy.
We put them to bed on their bellies. Yup! I know — how low could we go? We shoved pacifiers into their cute mouths and said, “Nitey, nite.” We covered them with blankets.
It just gets worse and worse, doesn’t it? And then we left them like that and went and watched TV. What’s a baby to do?
We had lame car seats. We had lame high chairs. We stuck them in play pens and were thrilled to have corralled them. Heck, I would throw two kids in at a time along with a dog. They loved it and I was free to do my busy. My friend said she had seven in her playpen once and one was definitely too old to be in there as he was in school already.
We had no baby monitors. When we left them alone in a room, they were on their own. If they needed us, they had to yell loudly. Sometimes we even let them cry themselves to sleep because a guy named Dr. Spock told us that was good for them.
They teethed on cribs and toys with lead paint. They got sunscreen, if they were lucky. It was like No. 50. They drank from the wrong kind of cups and ate off plastic that was microwaved.
We threw them into pools with wingies on their arms. They slouched in sitting positions on the floor and got no boppies to surround and brace them.
We let them sit in the front seat with Mommy. We held infants during car rides.
We stuck rough cloth diapers on their bottoms held together with giant sharp diaper pins. Is there a grown child out there who wasn’t stuck with one of those pins? Sorry!
I didn’t, but many smoked and let the baby sit there in a cloud of grey. We drank while we were pregnant. When they teethed, we rubbed whiskey on their gums. We wanted to rub it on ours.
Life was different then. It was even more different in other places. When we lived in Spain, I gave birth to my second child, Colleen. They gave me gas for anesthetic. I didn’t prefer that but that was what they gave — period, so I decided to go with it, being a big chicken and all. Also I remembered the first labor. I’m not as dumb as I look.
So, after the babe was out and next to me — still all gucky, I was still all gassed up and goofy – the doc brought my husband in and, as he rolled up his sleeves, said to my mate, “Hey, wanna beer?” He opened a nearby fridge and popped open two beers for them. Windows were open. I swear — if it was today, I would have sat up and screamed, “Really?”
Sadly, there’s a lot more to this story of how I ruined my kids and I’ll complete this sad tale next week. In the meantime, don’t judge me. Many of you were right there with me. It’s a wonder our kids turned out at all.
Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.