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I Used to Judge Moms of 2+ Kids for Not Having Their Sh*t Together — But Now I Get It

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Image Source: Heather Neal

A swallowed Lego. Marker streaked across the bedroom wall. A new bruise every day on a baby barely big enough to crawl. These are the stories I heard from friends while I held my only baby close, my protective arms wrapped around him. I laughed a little at these “funny” tales, but inside I was wondering, How do you let these things happen?!

And then I had a second baby. One I couldn’t keep my eyes on 24/7 because he had a big brother looking for just as much trouble. One that was beyond adventurous and got himself into precarious predicaments even when I was watching. I’m sorry for what I thought when I just had one kid to look after.

Moms may tell kids they have eyes in the back of their heads, but I really could use a pair. Despite my best of intentions and most helicoptering of parenting, my second child gets himself into all sorts of potential trouble. The kind of trouble that makes me better understand all these crazy tales and stories of accidental mishaps. In just a short nine months, my youngest has had me prying things out of his mouth, grabbing a leg or sleeve to snatch him out of last-second trouble, and wondering “how did that happen” more times than I’d care to admit. And he’s only been mobile about a third of that time.

Despite my best attempts at being ever-vigilant with my eagle eyes, things are different once the second kid comes along. With my first, there were no age-inappropriate toys lying around. No little Lego pieces or mini-sized matchbox cars. No crayons or markers with easily removed lids, or scissors that claim to be blunt for kids but are really a potential weapon of mass destruction. There was never, ever a baby that didn’t have eyes glued to him since he was the only one around.

This time all of those things are around, and despite rules to always have tiny toys stored up high, baby brother is interested in anything and everything big brother touches. He wants in all the cabinets and to climb on all the things. He’ll find things I didn’t even know need baby-proofed. In his short mobile months, he’s managed to pull the end of a chip-clip off (which I snatched in the nick of time), eat off the earbud of a headphone (which was an unintentional test of the speed of his digestive system), bite off the end of a crayon in less than 0.2 seconds, and pull a stud earring right out of my ear and get it in his mouth while nursing. Not to mention, he crawls right off the soft, comfy blankets I lay down for him outside and crawls directly on the concrete. His poor little knees have calluses — not because I don’t try to keep him protected, but because he’s adventurous and loves to explore.

Just to make sure I’m not a big, giant parenting failure this time around, I checked in with some other moms about things their young kids had done, despite supervision. There was the baby that ate a packet of mom’s birth control pills, one that experimented with lip stain, the one that hid in the closest so quietly for hours the parents had to call in official reinforcement to find him, several bottle caps in babies’ mouths, a few dressers climbed, and a coffee frother to a little girl’s bangs (which then had to be cut off). Parents of a few toddler-aged kids chimed in too (and don’t I know what kind of trouble toddlers can get into!), including a box of macaroni in the toilet, a toddler locking his mom out of the house, yogurt used as sunscreen, and a tale of hair removal cream being used as shampoo. Oops.

So though I’m clearly not alone, I’m universally sorry for anything I thought before I had two kids. To add to that, I’m also sorry for what I thought before I knew just how crazy-adventurous some babies are by nature. Like my youngest climbing out of his tightly-strapped high chair, directly on to the counter to grab a bowl of blueberries I was taking too long to hand over. Oh, the things we learn as we continue down this crazy path of parenthood.

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