What better time to have an epiphany than while scrubbing sticky baby poop off of my body? Hot water beats down my shoulders. It would be soothing if it weren't launching little flecks of baby poop on every surface of my shower.
Sometimes, when you're covered in poop or vomit, you don't know how to start getting clean. Do you wipe it with a towel? Do you try to peel your clothes off and keep as much of it from touching your skin as possible? What do you do with the leftover human waste?
Have you ever flushed a shirt down the toilet while still holding onto the shirt, hoping that the water will just take the chunky bits with it? I have.
At moments like this one, I usually teeter dangerously between laughing and crying. But, considering my current plight, I laugh. Never once, in all the immature poop jokes of my youth (or adulthood), would I have entertained finding humor in actually rolling in human excrement.
Now I'm a mother of two.
In the past three years alone I have been puked on, pooped on, spat on, sweat on, peed on, and/or spilled on at an average of at least once per day. On top of that, there are also days when I don't get to shower. You do the math. I know I have slept with dried vomit on my skin. There are public restrooms with a cleaner reputation than me.
Allow me back the poop-truck up.
I'm playing with my kids play on the floor. My ten-month-old son abruptly stops what he is doing and, face turning red, focuses on some distant, unseen tiki god of bowel function for a few moments. His eyes cross slightly with intensity. Suddenly his hypnotic trance ends, he takes a breath and casually resumes gumming the giraffe head he had been working on before. I know the look and the subtle, tense grunt. He had produced a weapons grade pants-plop. I know the severity before I can smell it - because I can hear it. It is the sound of extruding wet play-dough through one of those plastic tubes, with all of the little sticky, airy pops. Like a brown ninja, I'm on the floor, undoing the three hundred and ninety-six buttons on his baby overalls with one hand while my other hand flails over the carpet for the nearest pack of wipes.
The wipes are concerned and inch away from me cautiously, knowing that half their mass is about to be unceremoniously rubbed all over what is now the sad fate of too many raisins. But there is no escape; I secure them in my iron grip. Now it is a pit-crew time test: my diaper changing prowess versus the ability of butt-glue to run up a baby's back.
With steely focus, small beads of sweat forming on my stern brow, I finish my mission. My face relaxes and I victoriously cast the diaper aside and am forthwith distracted by the cunning, diabolical, spit-bubble-blowing cuteness. We go right back to playing.
Mistake number one.
Lying on my back, I airplane him from one side of my body to the other. He thinks this is a riot, and I live to see his chubby, toothless smile. So I keep doing it, rocking back and forth, inching each time closer to a size four cloth diaper that rebounded off the side of the couch and rolled open, displaying the full smorgasbord of it's ungodly contents.
I thought I had tossed the diaper far enough away that it didn't smell too strongly - only enough to remind me to take care of it in a few minutes. The odor catches up to me with unusual speed. It's enough to make me think that he has just created a second butt-bomb, so I sit up and check. All I see in his new diaper is deceptively innocent baby cheek. It can't be gas, it's lingering way too long for that. (I sort of hate that I know where the distinctive threshold between ghost poopy and actual poopy is). I cast a sideways glance at his wadded up diaper and notice with some horror that it now lay open on the floor.
I realize in a shock of a moment that I have just acted as a giant rocking rubber stamp, and marked a sticky, brown mess all over myself and the floor. My son is elated. He thinks poop is great. I get a toothless grin of approval.
I let out a high-pitched, breathy sound of horror that I didn't even realize was coming from me, followed by little machine-gun bursts of:
Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew
all the way to the bathroom with where I carefully remove the desecrated clothing from my body.
And then it gets real for me, in a sack-of-bricks-ian moment.
Here are nine other things I have in common with my baby, because I assure you, he has rolled in poop, too.
9. I have had a knock-down, drag-out, wailing-in-a-heap-on-the-floor, tantrum when I didn't get the thing that I thought would make me most happy in life.
8. I am learning to trust in powers that are more far-sighted and wise than my own. Usually, I don't. But those powers are going to teach me whether I like it or not.
7. I sometimes stay awake all night because my body hurts due to growing pains. Sometimes my mind and tender heart hurt from growing pains, and I think my son's do, too.
6. I have eaten off of the floor.
5. I have spat out the thing that I ate off of the floor.
4. Usually, when I am crying, I just want to be held and rocked and told in a soft voice that everything will be okay.
3. Mostly, I just want to be happy all the time. I love to play and explore. But sometimes I just have to cry, even though everything is mostly okay and all of my needs are being met.
2. Everything is hard for me, but I don't have the choice to not do it. Learning to do all of the things that I do is hard. Growing is hard. Mastering control of my body and speech is hard. Learning to control my impulses is really, really hard. But I, like my son, can do hard things.
1. We're both babies, my son and I. But babies are amazing.