44. Where Does My Help Come From? Part 5
Updated: Aug 7, 2022
I got up the next day feeling like there was more to it.
I asked God, “What do I do with this? What was the point? It doesn’t seem to be enough to heal me.” It felt incomplete.
He said to me, “Now tell the story from your side.”
“I want you to write the story from the baby’s perspective.”
“Oh? Oh… okay.”
I was hesitating. It seemed like it was going to be painful. I never thought to see it from “my side.”
I went slow, I thought it through, yet once I got started writing, it just rushed out.
All the confusion the baby would feel.
All the condemnation.
All the disdain from her mom.
What does a baby do with this? How could a baby process what was happening to her and why was her mom being so rude and angry?
The fall-out from that project was fully exhausting too. I felt run over by a truck after it, yet I felt lighter. As the day went on, I felt lighter still, but not fulfilled or healed. I felt empty. Hollowed out, and unsure of myself.
Here I will put the two stories in their entirety:
Vile and Disgusting
(Written from my mom’s perspective)
The boys were at school. I was starting a new project; I was neck deep into setting up the paints; the canvas was already gesso-ed and on the easel, I had my picture tacked within eye-view and started the background mood colors. My baby was asleep in the other room. Perfect time. Time to get creative and …
There were no sounds coming from the baby’s room, then... Wait, what was that sound?
I was in my painting smock. The linseed oil and turpentine were ready on the table. All the colors I wanted to see in this masterpiece spread out on my palette. I was so ready to dive into this creative endeavor. The paint cloth was spread under the easel to catch any stray paint. Got to be so careful to not mess up my home. I love this home. You don’t want to get oil paint on anything! It will never come out!
This was my time.
Uh oh! The baby is awake!
She’s making some noises. I feel something is up. She’s not crying, so I’ll just sneak down the hall and check on her. Quietly, I tip-toed to her room a little miffed at having my work interrupted. I had this planned for some time now, and now was my time!
I slowly opened the door a slice and peeked in. I expected her to be laying down and falling asleep. But instead to my horror, she was having a painting party in there too. And the smell was horrible! My little girl had done the most abominable thing! She was smearing her dirty (poop) everywhere! All over her, the crib, the sheets, the wall behind the crib, it was everywhere! She was working it in really good too!
I closed the door and I shuttered! She was my responsibility and I had to clean up that odiferous mess in there. My anger fumed; it started as my hands clenched and just ran all the way up to my face. I contorted it with vile hatred for this girl who interrupted my painting. She has messed things up for me in more ways than one! Fuming all the way down the hall, I stepped into my studio, back to my beloved art, only to cap things up until the next week when I would have this free time again. I could only preserve the few things that needed not to sit out as I had a new, undesirable project to focus on. I was steamed! This was “my time!” stolen from me!
Taking off my smock, I desperately wanted a cigarette, but NO, I had WORK to do. Didn’t I already clean everything in the kitchen and bathroom today??? Oh, the bathroom!!!! I’m going to have to clean everything in the bathroom again after I clean the baby! Oh shit! I spent all morning doing my chores to give myself as much time as I could to paint.
I took off my smock and thought I need another smock to approach this unsavory task! I'll grab an apron from the kitchen. Which one do I not care about? Oh yeah, the yellow one. On it went and off I went to the putrid baby’s room. I am not looking forward to this and I don’t even know where to start!!!
The boys are 5 and 6 years old. It’s been a long time since I had to do diapers! And all of this, but they never went as far as using their dirty (poop) as paint! I wish I didn't have another child! I should have been more careful and listened to my husband. I hate when he is right. And today he was right! I wonder what time he will be home? Oh! Wait! Is he on leave? I can’t think right now, I’ve got to clean up this horrible creature and room.
Back in the room, I panned trying to assess the damage. So much dirty! Where do I start? I have to start with the offender. Let’s get a … no let’s wrap her up in the sheets. NO! Uhm, what do I do? Oh, it’s in her hair! It’s everywhere. Okay, let’s focus, Dolores! Grab an old towel. And do my best to scoop up Monica without getting all the stuff on me and not dropping pieces of it on the way to the bathroom. Oh shit! I should have filled up the tub with some water. Great! Now she is crying! What’s her problem? Doesn’t she know that I’m the one with the big problem here? She was having fun and now I have a dilemma to manage.
Into the tub with you. Oh my God! This is so utterly disgusting. Get off her yucky clothes. Where do you put it? Oh, stop crying! Poopy pants! Poopy towels, poopy shirt, and oh the diaper. Put it into a pile for later. Why did I clean the bathroom today? Why today? I have lost my whole day! It stinks to high heaven in here!
How do I take off the shirt without getting it into her eyes? Without her falling over and rolling in it more? What a daunting task! Somehow this all has to get clean. I’m going to scrub her till she is gleaming and smelling good! I don’t want anyone to know my baby is a poopy pants painter!
She is crying the whole time. My face is pinched-up, she will know that this is not acceptable! Oh, stop crying! I should have set up my bathroom for this emergency before I got here. Now to grab a washcloth, no two! One for the beginning clean-up and one for the soapy clean-up. Where is the shampoo? Why did I put everything away? It looks better but now I have to leave the wailing heap in the tub as I retrieve the necessary cleaners and items out of the closet.
Pink tile. I love this house. When it's clean!
I have my bucket and washcloths ready. I filled up the water to not too hot but hot enough to move the dirty (poop). She is more slippery now that water and soap are applied. But now we have floating islands of poop in the tub! Oh boy, what did I sign up for? I was done having kids too. It’s not my fault I got pregnant! It’s not all on me! But this is! I am alone with this mess.
Two buckets of water, two scrub downs with soap. I accidentally got it in her eyes, but she wouldn’t stop squirming!
Now she is clean. Shoot, I forgot to get her some clothes to change into! I pick her up she is fighting me not understanding any of this. I should have never had another child. I take off my apron that had poo on it and add it to the big pile of dirty laundry on the bathroom floor. Oh, shoot! I have to do laundry now too. This is going to take all day! Good thing it is a sunny Mississippi morning.
Squirming and wriggling I carry her down to her bedroom where I am confronted with the awful smell and the rest of the mess. She managed to get some on the dresser next to her crib. She must have been a busy little bee! I plop her on the floor away from the crib with its poo-seeping rails. The stuff is running down the rails!
She is still wiggling to get away. I have to work fast to get clothes on her and a fresh diaper. And figure out where to put her while I do the rest of the cleaning. Oh! the smell is horrendous. Oh! will this day ever end? She is starting to get hungry, of course, it’s almost lunchtime! Okay, off to the kitchen to make some lunch for her. I’m glad she has been weaned! I can give her baby food! The high chair! That’s where I can put her until I clean up her room and crib. I have to hurry because she won’t stop screaming. Please! Oh! please be quiet! I’m doing all I can here! And this was all your mess anyway!
Now I have to sit here and feed her. I’m planning my next step with this major cleanup as I scoop the gooey food into her mouth. Oh boy, she’s getting it everywhere! At least she’s not screaming anymore but she looks very unhappy. She thinks she’s had a hard day! Sheesh!
I’m so upset with you, Monica, you have messed up my day, and my life. What do you want anyway? What do you think this whole world revolves around you? Just eat your food! You should have been sleeping. But no, you had to “paint” your room.
Then I had another clean-up on this girl today. I wipe down the chair and floor where food has spilled. I take the highchair into her bedroom. She can just sit and watch the big clean-up that I have to do today. I get the diaper, and clothes and scrape off the "dirty" into the toilet. Damn if I didn’t get it all over the clean toilet! What a mess!
I bring it into the laundry room and throw it into the washing machine. I think about all that poop floating around the machine until I can’t think about it anymore.
Back to the filthy room. Will I ever be able to get the smell out of my nostrils? I open a window. This is such torture. What on earth did I do to deserve this? What did I do to deserve this baby?
“No one wanted you!” I yell at her.
I begin to methodically clean the mess from the top to the bottom of the crib and down on the floor.
I have another load to bring to the laundry. Hopefully, the first load is done. I hope I don’t have to wash it twice. Look at Monica. She’s asleep in the high chair. Good! That’s good. Maybe I’ll get some peace and quiet now. I have time to have a cigarette!
In the laundry, the towels and clothes look clean. Smell it, I tell myself. But I protest because I just brought in a load that is wreaking of dirty poo. And my nostrils won’t work anymore. All I smell is "dirty!"
I put the fresh laundry in the basket to hang outside on the line. And throw in the other load. Start that load, with extra soap powder. Now back to the room and check on that troublemaker.
She’s asleep still. I put fresh sheets on the crib mattress and do a double check for anything I might have missed. So help me, if I find some more "dirty" that I missed tomorrow I will scream to the high hills.
I pick up the hooligan and place her in the crib. Then I see it. On the wall, more "dirty!" How could I have missed it? I move the crib to get to the wall. And she wakes up crying. Can’t a soul get some rest around here? Wet diaper. I’m so mad I just let her cry for now.
I still have to clean the bathroom again and finish hanging out the laundry. And finally, have a cigarette!
My beautiful painting will have to wait for another time. My heart, my love, my favorite pastime. My friend, my oil painting. I long to paint away my days. So many things to paint and so little time for me.
After selling my first painting, I will know I have what it takes to be an artist. After that sale, I am one! Doesn’t anyone know that I am an artist?!
I walk back down the hall, closer to the baby’s room, and peek in. she’s up and is moving around. It stinks in here again. I have to change her diaper and get her clean again. At least she’s not crying now. She looks at me. She smiles at me. I think I don't want to smile at you. You smell. This day was the most vile and disgusting day! I will never forget it. I’m still so angry that you stole my day. She stops smiling at me. “There. Now that’s better. Now we have an understanding,” I think to myself. “You ruined my day!” I get worked up again but I won’t say any more about now. “It’s done. It just burns me up. I’ll never forget this day as long as I live.”
This is hard to read, and it was hard to write and hard to edit. I struggle with respecting my mom and being obedient to God in this task. Zack read it and says it needs to be told. There is more and it gets hard then it gets better. And then came my healing. Please don’t judge me by this story. Be patient and wait for the rest of it.
I don’t understand
(Told from the baby’s perspective)
I’m alone. I don’t know what to do. I’m not sleepy yet. I wonder what mommy’s doing. I'll call for her. “Mommy! Mommy!” Only it doesn’t quite come out like that. It's just a howl. But in my mind, I’m saying “Mommy will you please come here? I’d love to play with you. What’s this?” It’s dark and squishy. It smells funny. Whoa, look at that! I can paint like mommy! Let’s move this stuff around. Take some more and add it there and there. Yes. swirl it and push.
This is fun! I’m having fun. I can move my fingers and it does different patterns. It’s all over my hands. Look at that! Let’s try to stand up now and call mommy. Oh no! I can’t grab onto the rails like I had learned to stand up in my crib. This is sticky and slimy. It’s hard to grab hold and pull myself up. I don’t like this. I start to cry. But then I rub my face with my hand like I do when I cry, and now I have something in my eyes. Oh, this is messy. I’m not sure I like it now. I roll over. And face the wall. Oh, look. It’s like it needs something painted on it. I reach out between the rails and scroll my hand and wiggle my fingers on the wall. Hey, look at me painting! Oh, there’s something happening. I don't have anything left on my hand to paint with. I look at the thing next to the crib. Mommy gets my clothes out of there. I need to touch it! I am crawling over there to touch it. Squish. Squish. squish. There’s something on my knees. I roll to look at them. All brown and dark. Hmmm? Oh yeah, I was going to touch the dresser. It's right there just waiting for me to come over.
Oh, mommy! Hi! Want to paint with me? I want to play with you. Wait why are you looking at me like that? What is wrong mommy? Mommy? You are scaring me, mommy. What are you doing? Why is your face all scrunched up like that? Mommy? I want to cry. I want to play but you are scaring me. I start to cry. I don’t understand. You are running around and saying things I don’t understand. You are staring at me and beyond me. You are not happy. I can make you happy. But you are ignoring me. Yet you are looking right at me. With meanness in your eyes. I’ve seen this before; I don’t like it. I want to cry and I’m so tired now.
What is this? You cover me with a towel and pick me up. But not to cuddle and make everything okay. I am held away from you like you don’t like me. Like you are disgusted with me. You hate me. We are moving now away from my crib and into another room. I am scared because I cannot see. You have wrapped the towel over my head and body. It's dark in here. I don’t like it. I’m scared.
You put me in the tub and start ripping off my clothes and your face is still wrinkled up and your eyes don’t see me. I cry more. I don’t understand.
You wash me, but not like before. You are mad and angry with me. I cry. You are scrubbing me so hard. I am scared. It hurts me. Not the scrubbing so much but the anger. The anger is abrasive. It is meant to remove something from me you don’t like. I am not understanding this.
The soap and the water are all over me. I try to catch my breath, but it is hard to breathe now. I have been crying for some time now. I feel exhausted and worn out from this terrible incident. I don’t understand. I wish it would stop. I wish you would hold me. I’m scared.
Okay, we are done now with the water and soap. Mommy brings me into the kitchen. She gets a cigarette and draws in deeply as she is warming up my food. I wait. I watch closely. I am still scared but am quiet now. I don’t know what just happened, but I am hungry. I wait. I lay my head on the side of the arm of the highchair. I watch mommy closely. I want her to look at me, but she is not willing. She turns to me and without a word starts to feed me. I am so hungry now I eat everything I can. I don’t understand though. We play no games. She is only interested in her cigarette. She doesn’t even look at me. Mommy, look at me!
Mommy? Please look at me.
Mommy brings me into my room. Its smells and is messy. I don’t understand. My crib is always clean. My room, my house, is always clean. She is still mad. She has business to attend to. I am sleepy and I want to sob. I want her attention. But she doesn’t like me.
I don’t understand. I don’t …. (snoozing)
My apologies for the length of this post.
I promise the next one is much more hopeful.
By Monica DuBois