Archive for November, 2008

You know, before we had kids, we got all kinds of unsolicited advice about what to expect from the little one(s) about to invade our world. And like most advice, some has been useful, some not, but here’s one thing I’ve been wrestling with lately: why no one, not a single living soul, even suggested that the poop of my children might very well change my life. Oh, sure, there was the “Ugh, those newborn diapers? N-A-S-T-Y! Just prepare yourself. They’re nasty! And the blowouts that come with them? UGH!” But honestly, the newborn diapers–even the blowouts–are nothing compared to what’s waiting for you down the road. Seriously, give me a nice, runny, mustardy, breastmilk-poop diaper any day of the week and twice on Sundays, but you can have the rest. Do people seriously forget what those diapers become…seriously? Because I don’t think there’s any way that I’m going to. Poop has definitely changed my life in ways I never expected, and in ways I most certainly was never warned about.

For instance, I didn’t know that there were different kinds of poopers. Which makes sense, really, since bowel movements aren’t exactly the centerpiece of civilized adult conversation. But this would have been useful information 3 years ago, and most definitely 2 years ago when boy #2 entered the picture. Because the pooping habits of boy #2 are vastly different from those of boy #1, which has led to some nasty situations in this household. See, with boy #1, he would go, all nicely contained in his diaper, we’d clean him up, and we knew we were in the clear for at least another 24 hours. Not so with boy #2. Sometimes I think he’s trying to set a Guinness World Record for the number of dirty diapers in a 24-hour period. And the mess staying nicely contained within that diaper is more often than not something that we wish for than what really happens. This was especially bad during the summer when he didn’t always have pants on. I quit keeping track of the number of times that I’ve discovered that he’s had a dirty diaper, only to further discover that he’s left a nice oozy trail all over the house. You know those cute little footprints that the kids in Family Circus leave everywhere they go? Ben’s footprint trail is in the form of poop, and he’s left it everywhere–couches, floors, toys, beds, brothers, every.single.step–if he can touch it, it’s been pooped on. Several months ago his habit became so bad that every foreign object/substance in the house was mistaken for poop. “Sean, what’s that on the couch/floor/table/clothes?” Um, I think it’s Ben’s poop. The boys even brought in a rock from the rock bed out front that we nicknamed “the poop rock” because we’d walk into a room, see it lying on the floor, and every one of us would automatically assume it was poop. It was bad.

I also didn’t realize that the pooping habits of their children could be such an important topic of conversation between a husband and wife. If someone had told me 10 years ago that one day Chris and I would be discussing–on a daily basis–the number of dirty diapers (or lack thereof) that our children had, I honestly don’t think I would have believed them. Who knew that kind of information could be so vital? We have to pay attention to who we’re around when we choose to initiate these little discussions with each other–start talking about this kind of stuff in front of our kid-less friends and they look at us like Seriously, that’s what you guys talk about? Believe me, it’s more important than you think.

Another thing I never expected was that dealing with my children and their poop would get worse before it got better. I guess I figured that as with most aspects of parenting, it would get better the older they got. So naturally, once they would start potty training and figuring out where it’s supposed to go, well, I wouldn’t have to get my hands dirty quite so often. HA! That’s a barrel of laughs. Boy #1 has been potty training since May. He figured out the whole peeing thing in 2 weeks and has had only a handful of accidents ever since. He even started waking up and going to the bathroom in the middle of the night without us encouraging him to–he’s wet the bed once in the last 6 months. But you want to know how many times he’s pooped in his underwear in the last six months? I couldn’t begin to tell you. I can tell you the approximate number of times he’s done the deed on the toilet, because we keep a little sticker chart that tells us so. Twenty. That’s it–twenty. In six months. Aside from those twenty or so times that he’s chosen to go on the potty, we’ve cleaned poop out of his underwear, poop off the bathroom floor that fell out of his underwear, poop off my foot that fell out of his underwear, poop off the hallway floor that fell out of his behind. You want to talk about nasty? The diapers from the first six months of this kid’s life were nothing compared to the underwear of his last six months.

But I think the biggest surprise of all has been finding out that dealing with all this poop could bring out the worst in me as a mother. I didn’t know that one frustrating aspect of parenthood could so greatly affect all others and that loving my children on a practical level could become such a Herculean task. Before I got married I would read the verse in Titus about young women learning to love their husbands and love their children, and it made perfect sense that loving a husband was something that needed to be learned. I knew the ecstatic feeling of love would only get me so far in marriage, and beyond that I needed to learn how to show love to my husband in practical ways. And so I learned. But I kind of skipped over that little but significant part about learning to love my children too. Loving children? That’s easy! Or so I thought. But I’m finding that showing my love to them on an in-and-out, up-and-down, everyday, practical level is just as hard as, if not harder than loving my husband. And so I’m now trying to learn something that I should have started learning years ago.

I know I’ll never be a perfect mother, but God doesn’t ask that I be perfect, He just asks that I be loving. And this is the best way that I can think of to become just that:

Mommy is patient, Mommy is kind and is not jealous; Mommy does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; she does not seek her own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; Mommy bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

And now here’s a question for all you veteran mothers out there–or you young ones who have things figured out a little better than I do…in what ways do you show love to your children on a practical, everyday level? I’m eager for some sound advice.

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