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Parenting triumphs and parenting woes

A while back I wrote about how much I hate leaving my children. I miss them (while also enjoying my freedom…) but when I return they seem to pretty much hate me. Since it’s unlikely that they actually hate me, I’ve determined that they don’t really understand what’s happened and find it upsetting. So the last time I had to be gone for a few days, I decided to TAKE ACTION. Bun Bun and Bunlet and I sat at the coloring table, and I made a little book. It tells the story of Mama bunny and her baby bunnies, and how mama has to go away, and where she is and what she’s doing every day, and what the baby bunnies are doing while she’s gone, and how much she misses them, and how she comes home on an airplane while they’re sleeping and how she peeks in at them and when they wake up she’s home and they hug and kiss. It ends “Sometimes Mama has to go away, but she always comes back”*

I didn’t take much time over the bookbinding (random piece of yarn) or the illustrations (crayon, hyperspeed), but when I got back from my trip THIS TIME the homecoming was…blissful. Hugs! Kisses! Just like in the book! And Bun Bun had memorized the entire thing. Mr. Bunny had read it to her every day, and listening to her recite it made me so happy. And it has been useful since then, too. Both Bunlet and Bun Bun randomly say Mama always come back


Maybe they’d just reached some new developmental milestone and the good homecoming had nothing to do with my literary masterpiece, but, fuck, I’m taking the credit. I think I helped them learn something.

Meanwhile, two days after his second birthday, Bunlet got to visit the ER. While Mr. Bunny’s sister was watching the babies (I was in the next room making dinner) he put a stool up the sofa, fell off, and cut his cheek open on the stool. It wasn’t a huge cut, but the ER is a pretty intense experience even when you know on some level that everything’s okay. I mean, I was so scared I couldn’t remember his birthday…I thought back to the times I’ve read about parents taking their babies in, not knowing what was wrong, not having any reason to think it would turn out well… Anyway, it sucked. I was SO FURIOUS at my sister in law. I know on a logical level that it could easily have happened on my watch (though of course I also can’t help thinking I wouldn’t have let him do that…), but she let my baby get HURT! And she didn’t have the grace to apologize. It’s been months and I couldn’t let it go. Any time I thought about it I’d boil with anger. The last time she visited I couldn’t even look at her, let alone be civil. I kept asking myself what kind of crazy person I was that I couldn’t get over it.

Then a few days ago I was walking to work wondering again why I was still so pissed and it hit me–It’s not her I need to forgive, it’s myself. I am angry at her because I blame myself. I let my baby get hurt. I had a good cry (much to the confusion of the people around me, I imagine), and let myself off the hook. And the anger really has faded.

Parenting, man. It’s rough. Right now we’re in the midst of toilet training Bunlet and after doing great last week, he’s pissing all over the floor this week. I am currently listening to Mr. Bunny screaming at Bun Bun (hey! I thought only I used that voice!) and chucking her in time out. Tomorrow I’ll be shutting myself in the bathroom or hiding in the laundry room when I get too overwhelmed.

But hopefully the baby bunnies will remember that Mama bunny may lose her shit, but she always comes back.

*I know. Sometimes Mamas go away and don’t come back. I decided I’m okay with the lie.


15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mo #

    This is amazing. I’ve been going away a bit on business and been SO worried. I love this idea. I may just steal it. Thank you

    October 19, 2014
  2. Lady, why are you making your life more complicated than it needs to be? Postpone toilet training with 4-6 months, don’t forget about it completely, just don’t force it NOW, and you’ll be surprised, and have far less floors to wipe the piss off of. That is what I am doing, after deciding that I find soiling clothes (by the numbers) far less amusing than Stevie. And the kindergarten teachers adviser me to as well. They deal with this more than I, so I am relieved to listen to them. ( the choice of wordes might point at our most recent endevours… :-()

    October 20, 2014
  3. Bunny, this made me tear up. I need to make my kids one of your books surrounding the over use of my “emergency” voice and how I will always come back to normal after calming down using your concept.

    You are such a good Mama. You are so amazing. You TEACH me great coping skills by sharing your experience. Still using the ma phones. They too make me a better person.

    October 20, 2014
  4. twangy #

    I am most pleased with my bunny friends. You are brilliant. You have harnessed the power of narrative! In the form of words and images! A beautiful, sweet thing. Yes. Very, very pleased.

    October 20, 2014
  5. Jos #

    I love the “mama comes back” line. Daniel Tiger has a similarly themed episode, and I know a cpl ppl get up in arms about it b/c not everyone always comes back, but dammit, as a WOHM – it has been VERY helpful in our household to have Stella always sing the little “mama always comes back” ditty to me when I leave for work in the morning. Your book sounds perfect for helping give that reassurance to the kids!

    I hope potty training “cleans up” for you soon. 🙂 It’s SO nice once they’re out of diapers. I know some ppl advocate the wait until they’re ready thing, but I honestly think we often wait too long and miss the window when it’s easy. I can’t wait to start my baby on it in a few months. It’s so much less stress when you don’t have to worry about diapers!

    October 20, 2014
  6. People keep telling me about this Daniel Tiger. I don’t know. I am not going to trust my children’s social and emotional development to a tiger. They’re bloodthirsty.


    OH! It’s not an actual TIGER. Well fuck you, Daniel Tiger. My book is the OG MAMA ALWAYS COMES BACK.

    Please don’t sue me, Daniel. I swear, I’d never heard of you.

    You know, I totally felt like I did wait till he was “ready”. And I’m not forcing anything, Mina. I’m trying it to see if it will work. (And I have good reasons for trying it, involving eczema and endless diaper rash and other things.) If it doesn’t work, he’s not ready.

    Also, I reject the premise that diapers are easier than toilet training. One of the signs of readiness in our house, in addition to the usual, is that diaper changes have become a battle ground.

    Anyway, from what I hear, it can go really well for people who try at 2, and really poorly for people who wait…and the reverse is also true. But you can’t necessarily tell for a bit, as anyone who hasn’t had the magic insta experience will tell you, including me.

    October 20, 2014
  7. Misfit #

    We have watched the DT. Mostly it models behavior I would like to encourage. Potty learning is what I prefer. That is a process that just takes time and temperament. I will be in the mama comes back camp as my Mat leave ended Monday. Joining the missing my babies camp.

    October 21, 2014
  8. Ana #

    Love it. What a great idea. I do a lot of processing things in the past with stories (“telling stories”, I never actually MADE a BOOK…you are awesome!) but never thought to do it pre-emptively. What an amazing idea. Age also helps with actually remembering where you are, talking to you on the phone while away, and then having a good homecoming…but I’m sure the book really did help.
    Urgh toilet training. Just urgh. We had a great easy time of it at age 2. And then completely out of the blue, when all diapers were out of our house, had a regression around age 3 that we are still dealing with (though overall much better…less excrement on the floor or the dining room chair=better). Good luck, I’m sure he is quite ready and doing it in his own way & will get there soon.

    October 22, 2014
  9. SRB #

    Been soaking it all in, lady, these last few posts. I always feel such…relief (?) when I hear from you because it always comes at the perfect time. You are my guru, in all things.

    Not a specific comment, but a “You fucking rock and I miss you and have feelings and such for you” style comment. So, hi!

    October 22, 2014
  10. Andie #

    Actually, I think you literary genius deserves all the credit. Beautiful book, Bunny. Am really to sorry to hear about Bunlet’s accident. But good on you for realising why you were still so angry and forgiving yourself.

    October 23, 2014
  11. WOMAN! You are brilliant! You are. You know, I hope.
    Social stories are NOT the exclusive domains of those on the Autism Spectrum. A good social story can make everything right with the world for all children (and per/or not giving a shit). And you have demonstrated it here. Ok, n = 2. BUT STILL. We have had discussions about how tough it is on your kids when you leave for a few days. And now, they have the book! They have the narrative of how things go, and they can rest in that narrative. It has a beginning, a middle and an end, and at the end, Mama always comes back.
    LOVE IT!
    I feel so inspired by how you parent your kids (among other things I find inspiring about you).

    October 24, 2014
  12. Aww! Late to comment, but wanted to say that the bit with the book is brilliant. Go, you!

    So sorry to hear about the ER visit. Those are the worst! It is fortunate that babies are made of rubber. Tadpole fell down our basement steps at 10 months, and it was HORRIBLE. He was fine in the end, but it was such an awful experience. And it happened when Roo was home with him, which led to some tough conversations. I knew that it could have happened on my watch (the basement door was left open and she just turned her back for a minute), but I also felt super-protective of my baby. Just bleck all the way around. Glad that you’ve been able to let go of some of what happened with Bunlet.

    October 24, 2014
  13. AmyG #

    I miss the babies when I’m away too. It’s awesome for about the first half a day. Then I’m ready to go home. That stinks about the ER. DJ has a tiny scar on his cheekbone for an injury that happened under my watch. I still feel bad about it.

    October 26, 2014
  14. Yes, and poor Bunlet. Is he healed? I can’t believe I forgot to mention that this cautionary tale illustrates exactly why we aunts must HOVER. I would have prevented that fall because of DILIGENT HOVERING. Children can learn the hard way when their parents are minding them. I, the aunt, must hand them back a) unharmed and b) (if possible) happy.

    This has only confirmed my belief in it, the HOVERING.

    November 7, 2014
  15. Sorry you had to visit the ER. I know how much that sucks! And I too would be furious if someone let my baby get hurt. I’m glad you were able to find a way to let go of the anger.

    Love your book, and I must say for hyperspeed crayon bunnies, they’re pretty damn good.

    December 7, 2014

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