Thursday, December 20, 2012 plays in my mind like a bad song on repeat. The day started around 3 a.m. when my third child, Keaton, woke up crying. We have a routine for when this happens. I embrace my inner contortionist and mold my body next to his inside his crib. I then tickle his back and face while I sing a sleepy version of Jesus Loves Me. By the end of the song, Keaton is usually in a deep sleep. Not this night. This night was different. This night was chaos. I still have a difficult time finding words to adequately describe that night. Bizarre will do for now. He was beyond wide awake. It was as if Keaton had guzzled his body weight in energy drinks. He had a multitude of things to say, half of which I was unable to comprehend because of the early hour, the other half due to his 2 year old broken language. He had an amazing ability to identify when we were pretending to understand what he was saying, making us to repeat each word until he was satisfied we understood. His game was proving to be difficult this particular night, leading to great frustration on both ends. He paused often throughout his elaborate stories to drink water. He was thirsty, more than thirsty, he was parched – drinking 3 full glasses of water within minutes, and wanting more.
I begged the sun not to come up and I cursed it when it did. The monotony of the day was welcomed, and I knew Starbucks was only a drive-thru away. I told myself I only had to survive to nap time and then I could collapse. The hoped for monotony was anything but. Rushing out the door to get my second grader, Noah, to school on time led me to forget the sippy cup of of water Keaton desperately desired. We all paid for that mistake and the 20 minute drive to school and back felt like an eternity. Keaton was unconsolable. Once inside, Keaton calmed down at the sight of his sippy cup waiting patiently for him on the kitchen table, and I calmed down with a cup of house made coffee, which was going to have to do that day. The peace lasted only moments before Keaton was upset because his diaper had leaked, soaking his clothes in urine. I had just changed him before we took Noah to school. I rationalized it was because he drank so much water throughout the night. I walked him up to his room and the aroma of urine consumed the air. I reached down in his crib to console him with his favorite blanket and his entire bedding was soaked in urine too. This was the the third time that week I had changed his sheets. I wondered if perhaps he was outgrowing his diapers and needed a bigger size. Two kids in diapers must have had my senses fooled or accustomed to the urine scent, so much so that my daughter had to inform me that my own clothes reeked of the same urine smell. What in the world? I started a bath for Campbell, Keaton and Crew while I got in the shower to scrub the smell away. I peered around he corner to find Keaton’s mouth stretched around the faucet drinking the water faster than it came out. As I approached him a look of fear overtook his faucet filled face and his eyes pleaded for me not to turn off his water supply. As I got each kiddo out of the tub Keaton melted in my hands, tackling me to the ground and his naked body began to uncontrollably sob in my lap. I distinctly remember grabbing his wet arms and pulling him close, demanding he tell me what was wrong. I knew I was begging for an answer he didn’t have. Neither did I.
Nap time was getting close, but first we needed to take Campbell to afternoon Kindergarten. I was well aware that she had gotten no attention that morning and had watched a couple of hours worth of television as a babysitter while my focus was overtaken by Keaton. I quickly put a bow in her hair and rushed her out the door by demanding she get in the car. My tone was intense and my sensitive little 6 year old’s eyes began to swell with tears. I didn’t have the energy to make it right in that moment. I told myself I would apologize later that night and would remind her that I would be volunteering in her class the next day for her Christmas Party. That should more than make up for our off morning. As I forcefully picked Crew up to put him in his car seat, I realized I had missed all of his attempts toward walking that morning. He was almost there, ready to take off at any moment. Had I missed it? Did he perfect the art of walking while my attention was devoted to Keaton that morning? My nap was so close I could taste it. I felt resentment building as I ran inside to change Keaton’s full diaper once again. When I looked in his panicked eyes, my heart melted and I knew this was bigger than what I could fix.