I won a contest, and I want to say hooray.
I entered the Murray Literary Competition, personal narrative category, with the essay below and won first place. There weren’t a whole lot of entries to beat out, so it’s not that exciting. But then again, it is exciting. At least a little bit.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you may recognize this story. I wrote about this experience when it happened, but the essay you see here is all growed up and better.
I get to read it to a group of people when the award is presented to me March 9. I’ve never read my work louder than a soft mumble as I check for grammatical errors. Since I’m quite adept at messing up words when I speak, I have a lot of practice to do in the next week.
Here you go.
The days are long, but the years are short — Or so they say
My 5-year-old is sassy and my 1-year-old is clingy. Every time I want to scream in frustration (Let’s be honest: Every time I do scream in frustration), I hear the echoes of every well-meaning been-there-done-that parent telling me to “Enjoy them while they’re young; they grow up so fast.” I recognize the truth of this cliché, but putting that truth into practice gets a little… messy.
When my second child was a newborn, I had taken on one too many things in my schedule. Our three-hour block of church was already enough to juggle with breast feeding, but I also accepted the responsibility to be the choir pianist, which meant that our little family spent four very long hours at church. By the time we got home each Sunday, my 4-year-old was restless, the baby was starving, my husband was frazzled, and I was famished.
One such Sunday, we made our frenzied rush home after choir practice and I zipped straight to the couch to nurse the baby while my husband scurried to prepare lunch for the rest of the family. As the baby was eating, I noticed her face start to contort. As any mother can tell you, the face your child makes before doing her business is a distinctly unique face, and one not to be ignored.
Seconds later, I felt wet warmth on my lap and knew her diapers had failed to do their job – yet again. It only took me a millisecond to assess the damage, after which I immediately — and very eloquently – called out for reinforcements: “AHHHHHH!!!!”
The mess was everywhere, and this was definitely not a one-person job.
My husband left the eldest child (who was being amazingly agreeable after such a long day) and the mixer which was currently spinning dough for five loaves of bread to take the baby off my hands while I delicately tip-toed to the bedroom to change my dress, both of us shouting with great amounts of aggravation to each other about our difficulties of removing soiled clothing without spreading the mess.
Happily, I succeeded. Unhappily, he did not.
It was time for a bath for the little newborn.
While he wiped down the changing table, I gingerly deposited the baby in her tub, only to notice the mess had spread all the way up to her ears. That is not an exaggeration. Because the mess was so far-reaching, it had also oozed onto the baby tub, which was supposed to be the place where she would get clean.
I needed reinforcements again. “AHHHHHH!”
My husband came in to clean the now-contaminated tub, while I held the naked, squirming baby under running water, then placed her back into the newly-clean tub.
Once all visible traces of the offending mess were gone, I soaked the baby in the tub and vigorously scrubbed her soft little body, while my husband took the stained clothes downstairs to be laundered.
When we were all together as a family again, my partner-in-mess informed me that while he was spraying the stained baby clothes, he had noticed the cat had thrown up all over the laundry room floor.
“I didn’t clean it up,” he confessed.
“I don’t blame you,” I responded, nodding in understanding.
He then took the sweet-smelling, freshly-cleaned little babe from my hands and held her up to his shoulder…
…where she promptly threw up all the contents of her stomach.