I have a close friend that will tell me the truth, bluntly.
“Sarah,” she said, “All your Facebook posts are about poop.”
She’s right, you know. I’d like to say that it’s a stage of life that I’m in, but it’s not. I’ll be talking about poop for the next sixty years or so.
First, I’m married to it. No, I’m not married to poop (although it feels that way sometimes! Joke!). But I’m married to someone who works with poop. I call him a poop plumber. The number one sign that he’s done a good job on a patient? They poop. It means that he reconnected all the correct pipes inside a person’s body and everything is running smoothly.
If he’s working late, it’s probably because someone hasn’t pooped in several weeks and needs to get that fixed.
If he’s missing church on a Sunday morning, it’s because someone got poop lodged in a hernia and it needs to be reduced.
Our “how was work today?” conversation is a listing of the ways he has helped his patients poop [in a completely vague and nonspecific way since HIPAA is taken very seriously at our house].
Throughout my first pregnancy, he stood by helplessly as I complained about various issues… but the day he came home and I told him I was constipated? His face lit up. After he gleefully skipped to the nearest Walgreens, he triumphantly plunked down Colace and Miralax on the kitchen counter. He couldn’t help my sciatica or nausea, but by George, his wife was gonna poop.
He gave a grand rounds presentation two months after Gracie was born. Often residents use that time to brag on their families. The simple caption under his daughter’s picture? “Excellent pooper”.
Second, I have raised one dog and the beginnings of two humans. What’s the number one concern of a parent, regardless of the species of their children? HAVE THEY POOPED.
Babies and puppies pooping is a sign of good health. It means they’re eating enough for their bodies to have waste. Newborns and puppies cry about everything, so the only way you’re able to determine if you’re doing something right is by looking at their poop.
I remember walking Willis along the banks of the Mississippi River desperately urging him to poop. If he didn’t poop outside, it meant it was going to be on my carpet. My first milestone as a canine parent was potty-training my dog. It was the first step in showing myself that I could be responsible with another life form.
As I mentioned before, pooping is the first means of communication between parent and child. It’s also the source of some of the greatest stress I’ve had as a parent. I’m talking about colic. It usually shows up around six weeks, and for my girls, has lasted up to three to four months. Without fail, Gracie and Bea would cry endlessly for four to five hours starting at 6 pm and lasting well into the night. I would rock them for hours, holding their little bodies as they screamed in pain, praying without ceasing that they would poop. In fifteen years when they slam their bedroom doors in my face and yell that they don’t love me, I’ll comfort myself with the knowledge that at least they don’t have colic.
Once you get out of the colic stage, the next poop stage is one of unpredictable chaos. The amount of poop exiting your baby and young toddler is absolutely astounding; the comedic timing of these blowouts is pure perfection. Gracie’s blowouts have names, etched in my memory like the moments before a car crash, where you constantly wonder what you did wrong to cause it (was it the baby food? was it the new brand of formula? was it a full moon?). I never refer to The Pre-Church Easter Blowout of 2015 without lowering my voice to a whisper, in hopes that acknowledging it with fear and reverence will prevent a second visitation of the bowel demons. Blowouts never occur while you’re at home for the day, the house is dirty, you’re well-stocked with diapers and wipes, your husband is home, your kids are behaving, or you don’t have a load going in the washer.
And now, I’m straddling the stages with one foot in the spontaneous combustion stage, and one in the potty-training stage. There’s something truly depressing when you look at the checkout conveyor belt and see pulls ups, tiny kid underwear, and size three diapers. I feel like Sisyphus, constantly rolling a large rock (haha or something large and brown) up a hill, only to have it roll back down again.
Gracie’s potty-training phase, as I’m sure you’re well aware of if you follow me on Facebook, has been going on since mid-April. We got the first part of using the bathroom down pretty well; it was the pooping stage that led us to an impasse. Gracie is in the stage where she personifies everything– if there are two items of different sizes, one is the mommy, and one is the baby. Again, this applies to everything. The pretend conversations I hear coming from her bathroom usually end with several “Oh no! Save me! Save me!” as she flushes the toilet. This only happens, though, if she decides that it’s worth her while to use the toilet; she usually waits until nap time where I hear “Mommy! Come see this GIANT poop!” “See, Mommy? A baby poop, and a mommy poop. ‘Hi mommy! Hi baby!’”
It may be our timing, but this potty-training stage has coincided with the What Do I Do First, Punish or Take a Picture Stage. Seeing Gracie’s imagination take flight, particularly around her bowel movements, has provided hilariously after-bedtime conversations between my husband and I (and some interesting Facebook statuses). While I don’t want her to feel like she can’t express herself, I want her to do it without waving a full diaper in the air.
The only problem with this sentiment, though, is that her dad talks about poop at the dinner table more than she does.