Let me tell you a little story about two infants, a brand new rug, and some vomit. (If it seems like I’ve written too much about puke this month, that’s a fair critique, but it changes nothing.) When my son was about eight months old, we went to visit a friend who’d just had her first baby. I did all the things you’re supposed to do — brought the family a zucchini bread, snuggled with the newborn, asked the mum how she’s feeling because no one asks the mum how she’s feeling. I even complimented them on their new rug and listened to their story of how it was the last piece they scored to finish up a big remodel of the room, and how pleased they were with it. I basically modelled what “experienced” parenthood looks like, is what I’m saying. Until the puking started.
The visit was practically over. I handed the little bundle back to his mum, and I picked my own baby up. And that baby — my baby — began projectile vomiting. I’m talking all over himself, the right half of me, the couch, the hardwood floor, and — most regrettably — the very fluffy, very new, very expensive rug they had just purchased.
My baby would pause his puking only long enough for me to exclaim “WHAT’S HE — ” before he’d start back up again. None of us knew what to do, so we all stood frozen in place. The puking itself was bad, but if I tried to get to a sink, I was going to create an even wider path of destruction. Finally, my friend’s mum, who had travelled across the country to visit her new baby grandson, starting throwing towels at the situation. At least she would have a good story to tell when she got back home.
I lived in Phoenix then and had to drive 45 minutes home in the desert heat, having changed my son into his spare outfit but naturally having no spare clothing for myself. The smell of formula and pureed chickpeas (of all things) threatened to choke the life out of us. It was the Drive of Shame if ever there was one, but the situation was made only worse when I texted my friend later to apologise and she was like, “Don’t worry about it! We dunked the whole rug in the pool. It’s drying in the sun now, I’m sure it will be fine.”
I don’t know what got me thinking about that recently, given that it happened nearly a decade ago, a throw-back problem to a simpler time. But it got me pondering how parenting can be many things — challenging, rewarding, stressful, wonderful — and it can also be deeply embarrassing.
We all have these stories. The times our kids brazenly insulted someone, or when they were the one three-year-old to throw a big ol’ tantrum about leaving the bounce house while all the other three-year-olds dutifully pulled their shoes on, or the time they repeated a thing they’d heard you say that they were not supposed to overhear.
It’s a holiday week in the middle of a pandemic, and we have earned the right to entertain ourselves in whatever way we’d like, including reflecting on the most embarrassing moments of our parenting journey and sharing them with a bunch of strangers.
Tell us: What has been your most embarrassing parenting moment thus far?