Car seat disaster and why I stopped parenting after 9am

Today was one of those mommy days I just want to erase from my memory, go to bed, and pull the duvet over my head. On our way to school this morning, we took the windy road through the hills while Baby Zand was happily munching on her late breakfast. Suddenly she says, “mama, my mouth is ouchie”. I turn around just in time to see how she spits up green smoothie all over herself like a demon being exorcised. Green smoothie was all over her white dress, her beige stuffed mouse, the car seat, the rest of the car, and into her own hair. Have you seen my daughter’s hair? I am highly jealous of her perfect doll curls, but they are a nightmare to deal with. In the evening after bath time I often find the entire playground’s sand pit in her hair, a few little toys that got stuck, plus knotted hair bands from days ago, that somehow got lost in this tangled mess. I love her hair for the two seconds after I have spent an hour combing it out with conditioner and leave on spray and flaxseed gel. And then as soon as she moves, it all becomes a tangled mess again. Anyways, today I could add green smoothie spit up to the list of things in her hair. I pulled over, got her out of her car seat, and started to use an entire pack of wet wipes to wipe down everything from her body, her shoes (her mouse couldn't be saved), the car interior, and eventually the car seat.

Oh the car seat! Whoever invented the car seat clearly didn’t have kids who make a mess. Have you ever taken a car seat apart?! It takes an engineering degree to get all the little hooks and loops of the bolsters off. Once you have removed them and thrown them in the wash, you realize that A. now your child is without a car seat until these damn things are dry (hence we now luckily have two car seats!) and B. the part that caught the most mess aka the car seat straps and buckles do not come off! I mean, in between every little hinge of those buckles is green spit up. I can see it, but I can’t get it out. It is disgusting. I have complained to the car seat manufacturer before when Baby Zand spit up eggs - can you imagine that horrific, foul smell?!? I was told that according to US law the straps and buckles are not allowed to come off, and they also can’t be washed, because then they loose their elasticity to help protect our kids in the worst case scenario. Makes sense. But again, did the people who decided on this law have kids?!? Kids make messes all the time! If you can’t clean the car seat, then what is the point in buying one that will grow with the child through all stages of childhood until they are basically off to college? By that time I will have had to replace this car seat every year with the rate of spit up, poop explosions, and other lovely messes we’ve got going on.

Does this only bother me? I set out to ask friends for help. Surely their kids must have had some kind of accidents, too? Or maybe not? My ugly mommy monster rears its head, and tells me that all other kids are perfect, and never make a mess, and just sit in their car seat, and stare out the window quietly without asking a million questions, and don’t ask for food/ water/ toys/ tissues/ crowns/ different music/ treats for the Minnie Mouse on their lap every two minutes. Once I have battled that monster, I go and ask around. Turns out everyone deals with it, and most just leave it be. They wipe it off as much as they can, and then just let it sit there until the stench starts to fade away. Because apparently that is the only thing you can do, unless you buy a whole new car seat every single time. Is that what the manufacturers hope for? A friend of mine says she takes the stripped car seat into her backyard, and hoses it off until there is nothing visible anymore. Then she leaves it out in the sun to dry to “disinfect” away that smell. That’s fine, expect what can we do in winter? No one seems to have an answer. So I resign myself to the fact that after hosing it down, washing the bolsters, letting it sit in the sun, and re-installing the whole thing, my car now has a hint of spit up smell in it until that goes away. I am just glad it’s summer right now, and we can drive around with the windows down.

So there you go. I have got absolutely no clever advice for you on this one. Just a lot of annoyance, and the hopes that someone will come up with a better product. Oh, and whatever you do, never spray away the stench with disinfectant or any other cleaner. The smell of the spray will mix with the smell of the spit up into something very unique and funky, that will remind you of this accident for the rest of your life!

After I stripped Baby Zand down on the side of the freeway, put her in new clothes (her wailing because the extra clothes weren’t the right princess dress), and buckling her back into a wet, wiped down car seat, I somehow held the car keys the wrong way, and the back of the car opened. Out jumped puppy Haigo, excited for this unexpected freedom, and probably also glad to run away from the horrible smell coming from the front. For about two minutes I lost our dog, wondering if he would run on to the freeway, and we would lose him forever. It took a lot of calling him and throwing treats in his direction to get him to come back, all the while Baby Zand was still crying about the dress situation and the fact that I had lost her brother, and she wants him back in the car with her NOW.

Once I got them both securely back in the car, I collapsed into my own seat, took a deep breath, and realized that it wasn’t even 9am yet. I was done with life for today. This is all I could give. They would have to figure out how to stay alive for the rest of the day themselves. Sometimes, there is just no parenting happening after 9m.

I hope you have a better day!