Daily Archives: July 15, 2015

Funny Story Repost

Originally posted February 12, 2012

I believe I have heard of a blog that is called “Poop and Boogers.” A blog only a mother could love, I would say. And if ever there was a mom blog post, this is it. As a matter of fact, today’s post could be a guest post on a blog called “Poop and Poop.” Why would I want to write about such an, uh, odoriferous subject? Well, because of the sheer magnitude of the story. Which probably will evoke more than a few “Cool story, bro.” comments, at least in the minds of the beautiful people who post Facebook status updates about traveling to international countries, and spying Bruce Springsteen at a trendy little place in Soho. But, I know that there are at least one or two readers among my five readers that will be able to appreciate this.

Believing that there are entirely enough blogposts in the world about potty training, I have kept related things to a minimum. After all, this started out being a blog about decluttering, and quickly devolved into one about whatever happened to be on my mind at the time. Or maybe it evolved.

Having four children for quite some time, and then tagging on a splendid fifth, some of the details of events from the early years were forgotten, and experienced with the little guy as New, and sometimes Improved. Potty training was most certainly New, but I wouldn’t call it Improved because it didn’t seem to come naturally to us this time. Eventually we received help from some Magic People called Kelly and Kelly, and in a week, voila, peeing and pooping into the right place (and more importantly, not into the wrong place) like a pro. They told me that kids can have accidents for even as long as a year after training. My fuzzy brain remembered no more than .6 accidents between all four of the olders in the collective years after they were trained, but I knew things could be a little different this time.

So, yeah, a few accidents. Sometimes it’s just too dern fun to keep playing Angry Birds, and the couch is just as convenient, or moreso, than the bathroom which is like 20 feet away. Sometimes we try to get there, but don’t quite make it. All in a day’s work, right? Yep.

But then came last night.

Last night, I stayed up way way past anyone’s bedtime because I was balancing the “checkbook.” Another someone had been in charge of this activity, but possibly had done it that loosey-goosey way that includes kinda looking at it to see that it’s about right. Apologies to Loosey-Goosey if more effort was put into it. But, according to the little “reconciled” column, nothing had been officially reconciled for over a year. Once I FINALLY figured out how to use this particular money program’s reconcile feature, I was excited to move it along and catch up to the current statement. So, I was hard at work late last night. Went to bed, knowing it would be a short night, but didn’t know it would be as short as it was.

Splendid Boy comes into our room every night/morning at some point and finishes out his Splendid Sleep in our bed. Many nights he is dry, top to bottom. Lately, we’ve been have some wetness in the bottom area. I’m pretty good at taking care of business while asleep, so I can pretty much help him into dry things and into our bed while my eyes are closed. But this morning, I got a little whiff of something, so I gingerly reached around behind him and could feel a sort of bulge. Well, these things happen. I got up and opened my eyes, and also my nose and realized we had a Major Incident on our hands. I was so flustered, I went into Anna-Jessie’s room and woke her up for the day. (Turns out it was only 5:30 a.m., but I had thought it said 6:30. She forgave me.)

I don’t know quite what happened in there. But it required stripping the bed, stripping the boy, scrubbing him down in the bathtub, and believe me, scrubbing was required, then pre-washing the blanket and sheet like someone who has to do all the laundry by hand in the river. All I could say was wow. And how? And wow. Scrubbed him off, dressed him and tossed him into bed with Greg. Finished the hand pre-washing, then lugged everything down to the washing machine and threw it all in. Ran back up and scrubbed the mattress. Scrubbed up like I was heading to surgery (I know how to do this because I have been watching ER lately). Finally fell back into bed for a little while.

What’s the point of this story? I suppose I’m just noticing how I took this all in stride. I remember when the big kids were little and how stressed out I was most of the time. I suppose that is understandable since there were four of them, and one of me, and they were little question machines, and I always wanted to give great, educational, complete answers to their questions. Plus, enjoy this time that everyone said was going to go really fast but seemed to me to be dragging along. Looking back, it really did fly, and if anything, time has sped up even more, but I *think* I have begun to learn to enjoy the journey. Even when it involves middle-of-the-night poopfests. Not to worry. It’s much more the exception than the rule that there is an accident at night and the fact is, Splendid Boy is such a blessing to us, so my plan is to savor all of it.

I saw myself today, oh boy

While at swimming this morning, a mom came in with her four children, one of whom was supposed to be in the class with Kepler. That other little boy did NOT want to be in the water. I watched as mom whispered murderous threats in his ear, holding his upper arm too tightly. He resisted over and over. It was a classic power struggle, and he eventually won when she’d had enough and set him down roughly on the bench to wait for his siblings to finish their lessons.

And I remembered. I remembered what it was like to have four little people to lead. Sometimes they didn’t want to follow. Most of the time they did, and we had a LOT of great times, but I recognized the set of her mouth, the urgency in how she held his head to whisper into his ear, her face as he resisted her over and over. 

He was just being a kid. I don’t know why he didn’t want to swim, but I definitely knew that the harder she pushed him, the less cooperative he was going to be. 

I watched the scene with compassion. I wondered what I could say to her. Did she need to be encouraged? Would she appreciate a listening ear? I didn’t speak with her at all, but I saw her leaving with her four kids when we were heading to our car. She was a thunder cloud, and I wondered if she was going to give them a tongue lashing once they were all seatbelted in. I know that’s what I did sometimes, as the pressure would get to me to get everyone to do what they were supposed to do. 

I wondered what led her to decide to put three of her four kids into swim camps at the same time. Getting them up and out the door requires twenty tons of patience. At least, that’s how it was for me. 

It’s been many years since I had four tiny people accompanying me everywhere. And back then, Greg worked only a couple blocks away, so he could come home for lunch, unlike these days when we see him so seldom. I remember even with that support I would yell at those babies. I can’t imagine now what could possibly have justified me yelling at them. Nothing, that’s what. And I don’t know what could have relieved the burden I felt to be a perfect mother, with perfect children. 

Maybe swim mom isn’t experiencing that at all. Maybe it was just a rough morning, and that particular kid is sunny 97% of the time, and this was an anomaly. But it seemed like a little more than that.

I think I might write her a letter. I think this is what it would say:

Dear Mama Of Four Beautiful Babies,

You may have noticed me leave with my little boy yesterday, the one who was in your reluctant swimmer’s class? But then again, with as much as you had going on, you probably didn’t notice.

My little boy is the fifth of our five kids. His big siblings are 22, 21, 19, and 16. Once upon a time, I looked a lot like you, herding my troop from place to place. Of my older four, 1 and 3 were somewhat challenging, whereas 2 and 4 were very easygoing and agreeable.

I found myself constantly overwhelmed by all the needs, all the questions, and all the options. Have you ever felt that? Kids are so amazing, but they require so much attention, so much energy, so much wisdom, so so so much patience.

I didn’t always have the patience, let alone the wisdom, attention, and energy. In some ways, I couldn’t wait for them to get a little older so some of the pressure would be off me. In some ways, I loved the wonder of them. Watching them learn new things, see new places, be their precious selves in all their perfect imperfection.

I know from seeing you bring your babies to swim that you are a wonderful mother. If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t feel like it a lot of the time. Being a mother of several children is very challenging, as I’m sure you know. When I was a kid, lots of families had four or five or six kids. But our parents didn’t have to deal with seatbelts, carseats, booster seats, hand sanitizer, germs on the grocery cart, trying to feed our kids healthy food in a world chock full of junk, a million options everyday, the unending information flow into our brains, our heightened awareness of the dangers in our world, cell phones, child locks, and about a hundred other everyday things we have to attend to these days. 

It’s definitely possible to have a large family and thrive in the process, but I found that I had to redefine success in some areas, plus I needed to be about 85358853578 times more compassionate toward myself. 

Sure, it’s part of motherhood to give of ourselves, and to do it beyond our comfort level, but I believe far too few of us take care of ourselves to by finding our oxygen and breathing it in deeply before we try to put our kids’ oxygen masks on. 

If you are one of the wise women who have figured that out, more power to you!! If you find yourself struggling, I will tell you that the two best things I could have done for my children was to be incredibly compassionate toward myself, and found ways to nurture myself and get refreshed in order to be the best version of myself.

I don’t know if you are a SAHM, but I was/am, and I believe it is a job that is rife with challenges that are also opportunities. But when I was in the thick of things, I only understood them as challenges.

All this is to say, I have been in a similar place with multiple young children, complete with one who seemingly didn’t ever want to do what I wanted him to do! And I wanted to let you know that I saw you and I identified with you and I trust you and I believe I you. 

Best wishes. Take care of yourself!