Tag Archives: poop

Poop Part Two: Life of Poop…

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So, we are potty training the baby. I remember with my first child praying about the potty training. I remember strategizing and having interminable patience. I remember having the epiphanic moment at the grocery store, slowly scanning the produce department, “Every single one of these people was potty trained by someone.”

Somewhere in between one and three whatever novelty there was to potty training has worn off and I’m left most of the time thinking, “This should be done by now. How come he’s not already potty trained? Wait, who’s supposed to be potty training him?”

He’s doing really well and today was a no-diaper day. I got home from work and Dad and baby happily reported no accidents. So proud. And then Dad left.

And now it is my turn. It is bed time. I am tired. It is still light outside and there are complaints from all children that they have to go to bed while it’s light. I explain AGAIN about how the light gets longer but our daily hours don’t change for two more weeks, only two more weeks! “When school’s out it’s going to be different, but for now we still have to wake up at six-thirty.” And waking everyone up was a killer this morning.

I think I’ve got everyone down. Then I hear, “Poop coming, Mama.” I run to find a tiny well-contained turd on the floor and rush the boy to the toilet. One additional tiny turd plops in the pot. There is excessive wiping with a yard of toilet paper that has been squashed into a sphere the size of a golf ball. The pajama pants are poopy enough that they go in the laundry. The boy goes back to bed and I entertain with slightly less patience another complaint of going to bed in the light.

(“Poopy enough” is a term utilized by parents of multiple children to indicate the item’s position past a threshold marker on a long gradient scale that moves in correlation with the inconvenience of adding anything to the laundry pile.)

Two minutes later, “Poop coming, Momma.” I come in to find a larger, yet, still-contained turd on the floor. This one left a trail down the leg. I wipe the leg clean. One additional turd in the potty later followed by excessive wiping and yet another pair of pajama pants. The boy is back in bed.

And yet again, “Poop coming, Momma.” This time we make it with the turd still firmly clenched between his butt cheeks. Now we sit on the potty. One tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. Three minute hiatus. Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. Three minute hiatus.

“Are you all done? No more poop?”
“No. Poop still coming.”

Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. Some gets on his fingers, he wipes it off on his shirt. I realize we’ll need a new shirt. I wipe the fingers.

Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. He lifts up his penis to see the poop. He gets pee on his hand and wipes it down his leg. I realize he is now dirty enough for a bath.

(“Dirty enough” is a term utilized by parents of multiple children to indicate a child’s contamination level past a certain threshold point on a long gradient that moves in correlation to the parents willingness to snuggle said child.)

Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. I try to explain how to wait and wipe just once at the end. He doesn’t buy it. I eye the dwindling roll of toilet paper and tell myself to let it go. Take your victories, leave some battles for later. One square to get the drip of pee off the tip of his penis. We flush to make sure we don’t clog the toilet.

Forty-five minutes later AND a bath AND an entire roll of toilet paper, a fourth pair of pajama pants, a new shirt, kisses, hugs, and covers, and we are in bed again.

It is now dark. No one is complaining about going to bed. The girl is already asleep.

And I realize again that the two greatest things I may ever do in this world are teaching three human beings to read and teaching three human beings to poop on the potty.

The Multitasking Poop Post (Contains Expletives)…

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I just had the poop sucked back into me. I’ve been having trouble with my bowels and have also been sick for a few days. I was looking forward to a satisfying poop. And I’m sitting there on the potty and my two-and-a-half-year-old is climbing into the tub and my five year old girl is in the room getting naked on top of my feet and my seven year old has a book open in the doorway trying to get me to commit to the type of tree that is growing in his pot (breaking news: it’s a weed, not the peach pit or the plum pit or the apple seed you planted in the backyard. “But MOM, I’m pretty sure it’s a peach tree.” “It’s not a peach tree. I’ve seen lots of peach trees. We used to have four peach trees. They have long thin leaves that can be slightly fuzzy.” “This one HAS fuzzy leaves, Mom!”) And I had to tell my daughter to please go take her collection of clothes off of my feet and into the room where they go and her brother beaned her for fun on her way through the door and she yells at him and the oldest is shoving the book in my face and the water is roaring into the bathtub next to me and my long slow comfortable poop climbed back inside my rectum and said, “Well, then, I think we’ll just stay in here.” Yes. Yes, Poop. I would, too. I would go hide in that quiet dark place, too, if I could.

I’m writing this post about multitasking. I began about two hours ago and have had to stop for innumerable reasons: unloading the dishwasher so I can load the dishwasher, washing the banana off the kid-scissors. finding the banana from this morning in the colored pencils, cleaning poop out of the bathtub, assuring my eldest that I have cleaned the baby’s poop out of the bathtub, singing Aladdin Jr. songs to the baby for twenty minutes in hopes he squeezes the rest of the poop into the potty, wading through two giant north american classification tomes trying to prove this damn weed, picking up all the baby wipes that were thrown at sister, crying for a minute with sister (she had her reasons I had mine). I mean…

I hate the way my brain is on Facebook. I tell my kids that you are good at what you practice and I practice the Facebook bounce, boy, do I. Political essay, kitten video, necessary social justice article, pictures of Kate and William and the babies, the latest Jimmy Fallon video, don’t vote for so-and-so article, photo of a sunset, vaccinate your kids, totally meaningless sentimental meme, blah, blah, blah… an hour later, AN HOUR LATER!?!?

They used to say multitasking was a good thing. Those were supposed to be the capable talented people. But now we’re learning that human beings aren’t supposed to multitask. Human beings are supposed to concentrate on one damn thing at a time, like pooping. We’re supposed to sit on the toilet and poop in one giant unified movement of bowels and brain. I have never been a multitasker, most creative people aren’t. Multitasking is very very bad for creative people. You need to sit with a thought or an idea. You need to let ideas tumble on top of each other organically. It get’s crazy busy up there.

Only now I’m a mom so now when my brain begins a blog post, for example, and I’m thinking about what I want to write I have to stop because some weed grew exactly where my son remembers planting a pit or a seed last fall and it is now in a pot on my kitchen window sill.

Motherhood makes you a multitasker by necessity. And now that I have three and they are each older with unique trains of thought on different rails (and this includes the little guy now, too. He’s verbose dammit.) my train keep jumping tracks a zillion times and, well, my life is a giant Facebook bounce all fucking day long and that’s why a stupid hour can go by without me realizing I’ve only been scrolling Facebook because this is what I practice!

So, I’ve been having trouble with my bowels, like I’ve said. Last week I actually went to the doctor. And then within two minutes of telling her my symptoms she pops out with, “Well, we’ll do the medical tests just to make sure we can rule things out, but did you know they call the intestines the second brain?” No. Who? Who is calling the intestines the second brain? I’ve watched every single season of ER, House, and Grey’s Anatomy and no one has ever referred to the intestines as the second brain. At any rate, she then says, “You’re stressed.”

“I’m stressed?”

“What do you do to relax?”

“Well, I’m a creative type, so it really depends. If I have hours or a day, even, I—“

(I just had to go take a break to change a poopy diaper because I put the baby in a diaper at bedtime. He was so coy.)

As I was saying, “I’m a creative type so if I have hours or days I might try to write or paint but if I have less than that it can actually be more frustrating than ever starting in the first place.”

“So, what do you do if you have less than an hour?”

I kinda laugh, “Uh, well, the same thing as anybody, I guess, have a drink, eat some cookie dough and watch a show.”

That’s when she made me take the depression test. It was this basic ten question test that any mother would fail, I mean, am I tired? Do I overeat or not eat? (YES.) Do I ever feel guilty? (Uh…)

And she brought in a very nice therapist for me to talk to and THEN they heard more about my life and THEN they agreed that it was indeed stress. I felt horrible. How can I claim stress? I’m really happy with my job, my kids’ school. I get to do this awesome school play. My husband is actually very helpful. Everyone’s in good health. I don’t overcommit; I have no problem saying “no”. My kids have zero activities outside of school. What a luxury for this white American mom with a full fridge to have nervous bowels because of stress?!

But maybe, they said, stress doesn’t have to be big or hard or negative things, just lots of things. Well, I have lots of things. Yes, they said, you have lots of things.

And my wise boss lady, when I told her about it later said, “You’re thinking about the stressors you don’t have because you live in this culture, but don’t forget that this culture does come with a lot of stressors of its own. A person in Kenya has a sky full of stars and not a lot of options. You have a few stars and are inundated by a surplus of options every where you go.”

(And now, would you believe that the moment the kids go to bed I need to poop again. It was a nice comfortable poop. I lit a candle, for ambience!, and now I am typing by candlelight.)

A multitude of options has always been stressful to me. (Remind me to tell you the story of how I broke down weeping all over my stoic Japanese advisor during freshman registration. “There’s[heave]too many[heave]classes[heave]that I want[heave]to take.” It’s a good one.)

I love my job. I love my kids. I love a lot of things. I have a lot of interests. And the feeling like I need to be creating goes with me everywhere. I KNOW I am grateful. I guess I am stressed. And according to ten questions I am also “moderately depressed”. I also have a higher blood pressure than I usually have. And I am also the thinnest I’ve ever been which is slightly alarming considering all that cookie dough.

Anyway, reader, here I am, trying to figure it out. Trying to un-Facebook-bounce my very bouncy life. (Which is a little like being the one person of five who stops jumping on a trampoline, don’t you think?)

Trigger Warning: Bodily Fluids…

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Today was quite a day in the mothering department.

It began with vomit… again.

Yesterday began with vomit. I took it as a sign from God that it was time to do a deep clean. Much like the time I was putting off scrubbing the kitchen area rug when I dropped a raw chicken on it, cleanliness is next to, well, God wanted to be close to my kitchen rug.

So, yesterday the bathroom got scoured, the kitchen got scoured, sheets got changed, the apartment was vacuumed, and five loads of laundry got done, all before ten am. That’s how early all of this nonsense started. I used to have friends that knew not to call me before ten am.

So, today began with vomit again. Sometime in the middle of the night my son woke, vomited, washed his hands and mouth, and put himself back to bed on the other side of his bed. It was mostly dry when I happened upon it in the morning cascading down the side of the bunk bed with a bit landing on the extra pillow next to my daughter’s head (!). And as he so accurately put it, “It just looks like food now, Mom”, which it did, vegetable soup, to be as exact as I think you care me to be.

I gave up the idea of a deep clean number two and satisfied myself with damage control. Laundry was started, things were disinfected, wiped down, and sick children were sent to the shower.

On a side note, I never considered pillows washable until I had children when they became, out of necessity, washable. My son, the vomiting one, used to wake up and vomit only on his pillows. I have begged him many times to simply turn around and vomit on the blankets.

After all this, I managed to squeeze in a shower before the husband had to leave for the offices. I was washing the whatever off of me when my son walked in with a slight poop accident. “I thought it was a fart, Mom.”

Sigh.

I vaguely remember being clean. I remember when spit up on me was a big deal. I remember when I changed my first baby’s outfits five times a day in an attempt to keep him in clean clothes. I remember being peeved when I got wet at bath time.

But it’s been a long time. Even dressed up with makeup on I feel like I carry a film from the very memory of poppy diapers and picking sticky babies out of highchairs after jammy toasts. It would be better if I wasn’t so aware of, also thanks to motherhood, how things that you wouldn’t think could, can create particles and spread them to the ends of the known world only to be discovered years later. Is that a bean trapped underneath the baseboard? Yes, they can furl things from them with enough force to lodge them underneath a baseboard.

And rice! Why do I ever serve rice?!

At any rate, you can tell this post isn’t city-specific. Paint the details a different color and it becomes motherhood anywhere. It’s a messy business and slightly glorious. So, now I’ll give you the slightly glorious side, because there always seems to be just enough to tide you through the mess.

We have a family rule, no screen time until you’re five. We don’t own a television. It’s my own little creative experiment and it’s worked great so far. Like any other Mommy experiment you have to really want it and Dad has to be with you on this one. So, when people get sick around here I often think “This is where I’d be turning on a movie.” But, let’s face it, if I wasn’t breaking the rule last spring when I was the physical embodiment of morning sickness and my children were the physical exception to Newton’s first law, then the rule isn’t breaking. Instead, we end up doing like we did today and pulling a large edition of Little House on the Prairie into our laps and reading chapter after chapter on the couch. I made a mental note while I was reading, “Remember this, Barbara!” Glorious!

And then, I was feeding them dinner (Rice?!) with a side of trepidations wondering if there was anything else I could give them that would be more pleasant coming up. But they were feeling better, much better (just like yesterday). So, my eldest son insisted on cleaning the apartment by himself. And my daughter wanted to do the dishes.

“Alright,” I said, “I’ll vacuum the collection of food from under baby’s chair.”

“No, no,” my daughter said, “I want to do that, too!”

“Well, what should I do?” I asked.

“You sit down and edit-ate your book, Mom,” she said.

So I did. I edit-ated my book while the apartment got cleaned.

Messy and glorious all at the same time, like most kinds of life lived well.

Butt Balm…

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It’s been a couple of crazy weeks. First of all, last week was Vacation Bible School at our new church here in San Francisco. I volunteered on counsel of my husband. The prospect of being social to such a degree with strangers for five mornings in a row was a bit anxiety-producing. But my husband is usually right about these things.

And I say that knowing that he reads my blog. You hear me, James, you were right?!

Isn’t that big of me?

To be sure, it involved waking my late-sleepers up every single morning and catching the bus across town. It involved three kids, two large bags, and one collapsible stroller. It involved a seventy-five cent fare for my five year-old and a hand free for me to hold Daddy’s clipper card (bus fare) which I borrowed for the week and am not giving back.

To be sure, baby came home on Wednesday looking a little pale. And then he got a fever and then he threw up. And the last two days I was riding the bus to drop them off by themselves and get back to baby napping at home so Dad could get back to work.

The naps were late and the kids were wound up so tight that no one got to bed before ten pm. But it was worth it and a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting a lot of awesome people and loving on their amazing kids.

But baby boy went from fever to mucus to the runs. And on Sunday night I got up to screaming and poopy diapers eight times between ten pm and six am. We started Monday with a long warm bath.

And then…

Yes, and then, we packed the car for VBS at our old church in Roseville because I am a glutton for punishment, also known as someone who voluntarily goes through labor more than once, also known as someone who voluntarily signs her kids up for two vacation bible schools in a row.

We stopped at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield because I thought it would be a good idea to give everyone their own sample packets of sugar for the last hour and a half in the car. I changed the baby’s diaper twice more and cared for the quickly advancing bit of diaper rash.

When we arrived at my Mom’s I removed the baby’s diaper and let him roam around on the lawn naked. I may or may not have been pooped on and/or held him up to poop in the bushes during this time. It may or may not have happened. It’s baby number three. You do things with baby number three that wouldn’t enter your mind as a remote possibility with baby number one.

It was a packed week. I will give you an excerpt from Tuesday.

We were having a playdate with a friend’s kids in the morning. We took advantage of the central valley heat and walked to Walmart over the railroad tracks, picked wild blackberries on the way and bought ice cream sandwiches for the walk home (Hello, suburbia!). Our friends left and I checked my phone to find the cousins already waiting for us at Great-grandma’s lake.

We stuffed everybody in the car, sick baby caught a nap in the car seat, and everyone swam, which means all the adults were counting heads constantly to make sure everyone was above water. We left in time for dinner before VBS at church, which is in the evening. But my son had jumped into the lake with his only shirt and refused to wear it wet into the church or Chipotle. So I stop by church and have someone run to get their VBS shirts, so now we can go to Chipotle for dinner across the street.

I was ecstatic that my baby ate his first real meal in forty-eight hours, some burrito bowl, mostly rice. At five forty-five I stuff everyone into the car after dinner for the six o’clock check in, too quickly evidently. For, as we pull out of the parking lot I hear a sound I know to precede an event that is all too familiar to me now, the staccato like coughing that is precursor to vomit.

Too late!

“Mommy, baby just threw up all over his seat!”

I toss a damp towel from the lake into baby’s lap in a lame attempt to contain the rice soup and keep my eyes on the road. Then I hear,

“Mommy, he’s eating the rice out of his throw up!”

I only write truth here, so I will tell you this; I wanted him to eat something, anything! And I wanted my elder kids to stay vomit free since I was about to drop them off at church.

“Let him eat it! Keep your hands in your laps!”

I circled the parking lot three times before locating my mother and handing the big kids off to her. And then the baby and I went home, bathed, sanitized, and started some laundry.

I put the car seat on the front porch and came out with three paper towels and a spray bottle of 409. I have been called optimistic, and, I’m afraid, in this case that would be painfully correct. For the first time in six years and three different baby car seats I had to remove the liner and send it through the washing machine.

By the time I was done cleaning up and had baby asleep the big kids got home, wired and already an hour past bedtime. I got them bathed, scrubbed the face paint off of them, and sent them to bed. I followed shortly after.

That was day one.

Why would I do that to myself? Well, it starts with pregnancy. We did that to ourselves. And labor, somehow I volunteered for that three times; no one can be held guilty for the first time, really, but two and three, that’s on you. And there are sleepless nights and baby sign language and wheels on the bus and somewhere in all there you purse your lips and realize that the kids are three and one and they’re not going to remember a single damn thing that you have done for them up to this point in their lives.

So, why do it? Well, this is why I do it. Because when I was a kid, I don’t remember the pool being stressful or making sure my brothers weren’t drowning. It was fun. I was just swimming.

And my kids aren’t going to remember baby’s horrible diaper rash and their mother’s shattered timetable. They’re going to remember swimming in the lake with cousins, eating flats of strawberries, face painting, and arts-and-crafts. They’re going to remember fun cross-town rides on the bus and a sample pouch of jelly beans all to themselves in the car.

So this week I’m thankful that I get to be the buffer between life and my kids for a little while. I’m glad to absorb the stress so they can just play. How much energy and work have I put into that Mommy bubble of safety that’s been following them around since before they were born?

It’s one of my favorite parts of the Mommy job to make sure my kids have an actual childhood, something that they can remember fondly and feel like they thoroughly did when they get to adulthood. I mean, how much better would the world be if everyone had experienced such an amazing childhood they didn’t waste their adulthood trying to live a second one?

And isn’t that what God has done for us, spent all his energies and one most precious son to cover us, give us a safe place to rest? Rest in me, he tells us, right here, and you don’t have to be anxious for anything. To be sure, life still happens, you might get burned by a bad case of diaper rash, but I’ll take care of it. There is a butt balm in Gilead! Bad joke. I apologize. But not really, that was good.

Motherhood is chock full of images. And you gotta take them when they come because you know you’re never going to get those twenty quiet minutes for devotionals every day. And I’ll take this one, and try to rest in God the way I want my kids to rest with me. Because, let’s be honest, Momma could use a buffer.