Misstep defined

Exactly what constitutes a misstep?

Misstep with regard to motherhood needn’t define something as grand as teaching your toddler how to warm up the car while you dab on your fifth layer of concealer—nor as despicable as something I saw recently while pulling into a Trader Joe’s parking lot: a woman carefully securing her parking spot with her small infant Bjorn-ed to her person! (Why I didn’t take her license plate, I’m still not sure.)

It can be a mothering-related snafu, like boarding a 5-hour plane trip at the time your child tends to be most foul-tempered; a major oops!, such as letting an infant use a lead pipe as a teether; the recurring problem of giggling while scolding for something that is, admittedly, sort of hilarious; or something you, the mother do to yourself: going into debt buying every color and style of Trumpette socks while neglecting the utilities bill comes to mind. It can be any mothering-related thing you find annoying, which, if you’re me (a Scorpio) is a list that requires an index. (I suppose annoying things aren’t necessarily missteps by definition, but they’re absolutely worth going on about.)

I’m the mother of 10-month-old should-be Scorpio-but-was-induced-so-now-is-a-slightly-pissed-off-Libra Eloise. I have millions more missteps to come, I know. Thus far in new motherhood, I’ve avoided truly dire situations, and I don’t think Eloise would have much to report to her future therapist. I don’t think. But, in the interest of fessing up, self-forgiveness, laughing, and moving on, I’d like to commence this trip by providing five memorable missteps thus far. (The following are not ranked according to levels of idiocy involved.)

1.  Using scissors to extract a 3-month-old Eloise from her onesie. Twice. Now before you go thinking I accidentally gouged her with a pair of sharp shears, I did not. Cut away from the face, folks. Obviously! No, I was very careful, and at the time, couldn’t see any other way out of the situation. Her bowels had recently gone into overdrive; and although I’d anticipated that change in her digestion, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. I couldn’t figure out how to pull the onesie over her head without soiling her hair, the thought of which made me gag; and I knew her legs and toes would suffer the same fate the other direction. I summoned memories of Three Men and a Baby and Baby Boom. What would those clueless parents do? What would Macguyver do? Enter the scissors. It totally worked.

2. Creating wrinkles on the arm I hold Eloise with that make me look like I have the arm of a 70-year-old and the arm of a 30-something. Maybe this has happened to others, but I still can’t believe it. I do the one-arm holding thing almost always. Said arm and wrist became tweaked early on due to the one-arm style, which causes me to carry the child in a such a way that pulls my forearm skin toward the bottom side, thereby stretching the forearm skin to its limit, and squishing the skin on the underside together, causing a series of deep wrinkles that stretch vertically from my wrist to my elbow pit. It’s really, really unsightly. I want to apply whatever French miracle cream Sephora is touting for $100 an ounce, but, you know . . . breastfeeding. Have to wait a couple months to apply toxins to self.

3. Allowing a massive flat-screen television into the house. No, it absolutely hasn’t fallen on Eloise, and we’re anchoring it like smart people. However, although I only allow the television to be on for 70 minutes max (during the Today show! Al! Meredith! Matt!) during her waking hours, she has become obsessed with it. If the television were a size that humans with functioning vision should be able to see, perhaps she would ignore it completely. Or not. But I’m telling you, she stares at that thing like it’s her leader. And when the people holding signs and clapping to catch the attention of Today’s cameras go to town, Eloise is led to believe that she’s being praised by the little people inside the big box. Think about it from a baby’s perspective. It’s creepy.

4. Buying stupid stuff because it was on the endcap at Target. Look forward to more entries in this category because I just keep doing it. I won’t slander the brand, because the idea is quite innovative, and way to go, entrepreneurs of the world, and all that; but I will tell you that it’s an upside-down visor apparatus meant to keep water from trickling into babies’ and kids’ eyes during hair-washing time. Water sometimes gets into Eloise’s eyes, but she didn’t have a huge problem with it. So why did I get this thing? I didn’t even have extra money for it, but it just looked so darn practical. The first time I tried to put it on her head, she became terrified, screamed, and tried to exit the bathtub on her own for the first time ever. It took two more baths before she let me wash her hair again, and about three baths before she stopped trying to climb out. Lesson: Leave well enough alone. And: Just because it’s cute and comes in purple doesn’t mean it’s useful. And: The baby on the packaging may be smiling, but that baby makes more money than your baby.

5. Trying to maintain a hushed house during naps and bedtime. Folks told me, “Oh, I ran the vacuum constantly during naps,” and “Yeah, we always hung our pictures after she went to bed.” “We sandblasted right outside her door.” I just couldn’t do it. Anything and everything seemed to jar Eloise awake. Intellectually, I knew her waking up was probably not a direct result of my clicking on the keyboard or eating particularly crispy chips. Still, I hesitate to do anything during her sleep, preferring to live in fear than forfeit an hour of peace. I also now eat ice cream instead of chips while she slumbers.

This is a story that never ends and promises to always entertain (if you’re easily amused, that is), so please keep reading.

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