‘At the performance, my baby boy blew out his diaper. I scooped him up, rushing to the bathroom. This was at our fancy playhouse, which apparently meant no changing table.’

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At the age of 27, I intentionally stepped into single parenting by building my family through foster care and adoption. The past four years I have learned so much about parenting, perspective and survival. Last Thanksgiving, the flu tore through our house, claiming many victims. I was one of the victims. It knocked me out for two days. I parented from the beanbag in our playroom. In between vomit episodes, I made lunches, brushed hair and changed diapers, mustering all my strength to get the kids out the door.

My oldest daughter had spent the semester learning ballroom dancing through an incredible program at her school, and that week was the final dance. The day of the performance, I awoke with the plague, held captive by my nausea. My only goal that day was to stop puking long enough to be able to attend her performance.

We all got dressed up fancy and loaded up in the bus which my dad (bless him) so kindly agreed to drive and headed to the performance. My parents and friends helped wrangle kiddos (it takes a village and mine is so wonderful). Halfway through the performance my baby boy blew out his diaper all over my mom and himself. In one motion I scooped him and the diaper bag up, rushing to the bathroom. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when bodily fluids are present, motherhood has taught me to be swift and efficient.

This event was at our local fancy playhouse, which apparently meant no changing table in the bathroom. I looked around for a surface to lay him on so I could begin, thankful I had remembered to grab an extra outfit. Motherhood has taught me to be resourceful. The entrance of the bathroom was fancy, equipped with a table, decked out with a bowl of potpourri. I spotted my surface, the marble table. I set him down on the surface as I cleared away the fancy bowl and potpourri that was not going to help to make a dent in this situation.

You know the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” That was the approach I took while trying to clean up my very wiggly and very messy boy. Motherhood has taught me to keep calm. I was about 25 wipes into the situation when to make the mess worse, he starts projectile vomiting while I am changing him.

My first thought was – “not enough wipes,” my second thought was, “we’ve got this.” At this point I stand him up and above the table where I was changing him, was a mirror. Motherhood has taught me how to rally, even in the midst of a stressful situation. In a moment where my nausea was ramping up and my hope of getting this little boy cleaned up was waning, he took things into his own hands.

He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and with a squeal of delight, he began slapping his vomit covered hands all over the mirror, leaving behind tiny hand prints. All I could do was laugh. He was delighted and so happy despite being covered in all these things. He found some way to take joy in. Motherhood has taught me to find the humor.

At this point the only option was losing all of the clothing. I peeled them off and left the crime scene for the sink. We needed more than wipes. Let’s pause for a minute to talk about how automatic sinks are not a parent’s friend. Making a bottle, cleaning little hands or bathing your baby is impossible when you are constantly having to trigger the sensor.

A lot of soap, occasional splashes of water and a pile of paper towels later, and we were good to go. I got him dressed and we went out with our people to watch the rest of the performance. Parenthood has changed me, for the better. I am so thankful for the ways I am being shaped and the fact that my kiddos keep my perspective grounded.

Woman stands holding adopted toddlers hands as he stands in front of her
Melissa Pennington Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julianna Klepfer, a 30 something, single, foster/adoptive mama. She lives with her crew of seven, ages 11, 9, 7, 4, 3, 18 months and 6 months, their two dogs and 6 chickens in the hills of Iowa. You can follow along with her ever changing family at My Joyful Broken Heart.

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