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Caring for Toddlers…the Hardest Job on Earth?

toddler picPINIMAGE

Disclaimer: don’t read unless you have a sense of humor.

Old folks…baby folks. What’s the difference? Well not very much. I just had my third beautiful baby and now I’m stuck at home with three children ages 3 and under. I have this year off of teaching and don’t go back until next July. Some days (Saturday and Sunday when my husband is home) I love staying home with my own children. Other days, (Monday-Friday mostly) I want to go back to work. To the job of teaching, that is ironically so much easier than staying home with toddlers. I say ironically because people often tell me I have the hardest job on Earth and they could never be a teacher.  If you measure the degree of difficulty by stress, work load, and lack of pay, then absolutely teaching is a very hard career. BUT despite all that, I like to go to work every day. There’s not many days during the school year that I wake up sad to go to work. I LIKE going to work. I LIKE my job. I don’t like all the politics that come with it, but I LOVE my job.  Staying at home with small children on the other hand isn’t that easy. It’s actually not easy at all and it reminds me of the HARDEST job that I do know about. The job my mom has, which is that of a nurse. She works in a nursing home and though my year as a stay at home mom will NEVER be as hard as her job, it does have a lot of similarities.

  1. I’m giving sponge baths all day long– Between wipes, wash cloths, and spit baths my children are constantly being cleaned. Despite this constant washing of miniature hands and faces, I STILL have handprints all over everything—windows, the T.V. , I found cheeto dust on the baby gate this morning, every surface you can think of– I have baby folk handprints stamped all over it. I’m going to have to chalk up the fact that I’m just not that good at the sponge baths yet.
  2. Tantrums or Dementia? – I was sick a few years back and had to be admitted every couple of weeks into the hospital. I always started out in the Emergency room triage (the little room with the curtains) before I was taken to a floor with a room that had a door and walls. In the curtain room I could always hear the old folks yelling at the nurses and being down right mean. When I would tell the nurse how sorry I was that they had to deal with that they always said, (bless those nurses’ souls!) “They can’t help it they have dementia.” Well now that I spend my day with two toddlers, I’m concerned they also may have dementia.  I find them throwing tantrums over the most bizarre things. For example, “here let mommy take the wrapper off that sucker so it’s easier for you to eat” (and not to mention more delicious.) That gesture of goodwill will be met with screams, kicks, tears, and self inflicted head butts to the floor. Seriously, I deal with baby folk lunatics all day long. I console myself like the nurses at the hospital—“they can’t help it they have dementia.”
  3. Feeding– I imagine feeding baby folk is a lot like feeding old folks. One day I will be able to throw a normal meal on their plate without cutting it into microscopic pieces—right? Honestly, every plate I make for my children I think about how one day they’ll be mashing up my food and putting the bib on me, and then spoon feeding me….poor babies don’t even know they have Karma coming.
  4. The Great Con Game– This is a game that is played every day. For nurses in the old folk’s home this game is based on getting patients to take their medicine. For parents caring for toddlers this game is called BRUSHING YOUR TEETH.. But I imagine the dialogue is very similar. “Come on just open your mouth. Just put the toothbrush/medicine in. THIS ISN’T GOING TO HURT. I got a little cup of water for you! THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.”
  5. The time spent fighting constipation– it’s often noted that old folks have a steady supply of prune juice on tap in the nursing home. But dealing with a constipated toddler is just as troublesome. I spend my day trying to get some fiber into my children’s lives and I work very hard at this goal. Unfortunately, they spend their day trying to get some sugar and junk food into their life and they work equally hard at dodging all the nutrients I’m trying to throw at them. I could go on further here and mention diapering or toileting but I just don’t have the energy to go there. ( My 3 year old daughter currently has a UTI and right now the bathroom is a place of hell and doom for our family.)

I do believe one day I will look back on this year home with my children and miss it. Maybe—

Well probably because my career as a teacher most likely isn’t going to lead me landed on a beach somewhere with a personal butler, so this could very well be my glory year of unemployment. But regardless, some days the only thing that gets me through is thinking about how I could be stuck working in a real nursing home— and that my friends, is truly the hardest job.  Thank your mothers, and thank your nurses…and if your mothers a nurse thank them twice.

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