Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What I got, mama?

Today is the 4th of July, which means that I have been actively playing the role of mom for close to three years, more if you include the following-every-rule-and-heeding-every-piece-of advice-received-from-strangers-and-read-in-magazines 40 weeks of pregnancy. I am not ashamed to admit that some of the more subtle cues offered by Briar were lost on me,

"She's a little night owl, just doesn't want to go to bed until 11." This said cheerfully after she writhed in our arms howling beginning at seven each night and ending as she passed out from exhaustion four hours later.

Neither of us really understood what she was saying until she was nearly two, now her sister at one declares, "Poop" and "diaper" with perfect clarity. "Wow! So much better at communicating." This from Briar about us.

Yesterday I had a truly remarkable moment as I heard Briar call from the other room. Her throaty voice traveling from the dining room to where I sat in the living room, Avery resting between my legs,

"Mama, what I got? What I got, mama?"

I knew, without a shred of doubt, that what she had was something I wanted nothing to do with. My three years of being a mom have included the earning of certain badges and I have the What I got, mama? badge emblazoned on just about every shirt I own.

Instinctively I lifted Avery and set her off to my side, away from the direction of Briar's voice. I turned my body and shouted to Sean to come immediately, having learned a thing or two himself during these years of parenting, he came without hesitation. Briar rounded the corner, lit from behind, arms outstretched, and rushed toward me,

"What is it mama? What've I got?"

The smell hit before my eyes and brain communicated the reality of the shape moving rapidly toward me.

Poop. Fresh, hot, and plentiful.

"No, Briar. No!"

I sprang from my seat and fervently prayed that my hands met an unsoiled surface. Bingo. I raised her in the air, my hands upon her waist, and scanned her body.

"What have you done? Briar! We don't do this, we don't touch poop." I sprinted upstairs, slamming the door behind me and calling to Sean to stay away. Briar, face crumpled in a mix of horror and despair, flailed in my arms trying desperately to hold

"Honey, it's ok, you were bad, but we just have to clean you, ok." As we entered the bathroom she began to kick and grab at my arms, her fingers catching on my arms as the poop clung to my skin. I recoiled.

"Mommy, save me. Mommy help," screaming. I thrust her into the bathtub and started the water as she continued to flail and beg for help. The water blasted icy and fierce, I silently willed it to heat up, which it did after what seemed an eternity. I began to spray her. The intensity of her protest, the desperation of her screams tore through me. Hot, prickly tears blinded me as I held her down.

"I have to wash you, honey. Be still." She wouldn't stop and every time I considered stopping she would swat at me, sending bright orange splatters against the green tiles of our shower. I put my head down, resolute to handle the task at hand and move on, both of us tortured as we were by our own actions.

I rinsed the last suds from her body and shut the water off, her wide blue eyes scanned my face, her mouth set in a tiny oval as if poised for simultaneous kiss and "I'm sorry." I scooped her in a towel and carried her to her room. I wanted to hold her tight in my arms, soothing her and apologizing for having scared her. It was clear in her face she wanted to go back ten minutes and not explore the contents of her big girl Dora diaper.

I made do by gently patting her dry and dressing her in soft fresh clothes. I spoke in hushed tones and explained why she mustn't ever do this again, she looked back at me and solemnly promised that she wouldn't. I think we both knew in that moment that she wouldn't, but she will do other things, and I will have to clean up. I hate that part of being a mom, literally loathe who I am in that moment even though I know she is a part of me that must exist.

I have learned, there are sentimental badges for these milestones and, more importantly, there is another side. There is a, "Remember when you stuck your hands in your own poop?" for me, and for Briar it is a "Remember when you gave me that sippy cup and I refused to drink from it and you got really mad and said I had to have a time out and then when you took it away you realized it was milk from like a week before and just dumping it out made you gag, remember that?"

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In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Certainly not amusing in any way in the heat of the moment, but definitely a story that will be re-told again and again with some humor, right?

I can relate. We have many Poop Tales here In the Trenches.

mammacheryl said...

I sat riveted to this post in horror and amusement. Am I still considered a mommy if I've never had a poop incident beyond the time 6-month Ben exploded all over his aunt, our couch, our carpeting, etc. when he finally "released" after 12 days of holding it in? I feel like I should give back my Mommy Badge. But I know my time will come. :)

Mom of a munchkin said...

I am dreading that these poop moments will still be happening even when Alliana is three!!! But I smiled reading your post because I could relate to the horror and the feeling bad for scaring her and having to hold her down in the tub. I smiled out of sympathy and out of the realization that I am not alone in this mommmy world.

I am really enjoying your blog. I just started reading recently but it's really great. I was wonderig, who sings that song about Ticks? It sounds hilarious!

BetteJo said...

Believe it or not - I miss the 'icky' moments as much as the sweetest and most tender. If my kids, at 21 and 23 ever play with their own poop I will never know. Thank God! :)

But - they just grow so fast. Looking back - I remember some poop smeared on a crib rail. Sigh-h-h. Well - there are always grandbabies one day I guess.

Ashley said...

Great post. I can relate x1000. I included this post on my site Mommy Blog Round-up at
where I showcase the best posts I come across each day. If you'd rather I take it down, just let me know!

FFF said...

This sweet and sad and real all at the same time. I really enjoyed this post.

Kelly said...

Oh, Amanda. I can so see this happening with my second born, I hesitate to even write that we haven't yet had a poopy incident of this magnitude. My Lillian is the diaper-remover/explorer, so it's only a matter of time.

I think, all things considered, you handled it swimmingly. My clean-up, I'm certain, would have included quite a few expletives.

slouching mom said...

This kind of thing has happened to me, and I reacted much as you, including feeling sad afterward. We are just human. Sometimes one more mess seems intolerable, y'know?

The incident about which I have the most shame as a mother concerns poop. I was really unfairly angry at Ben for having a poop accident on a playground when I had no change of clothes with me and no bathroom in which to do the changing.

It was an accident. And I did not treat it as such until it was too late. And though it was seven years ago, and thankfully a one-time misstep on my part, I cannot and will not forget it.

flutter said...

Oh Amanda...

I love my mom with every inch, but don't believe I don't use this very sentence with her "remember when I broke my wrist and you were in a hurry to get to the store and thought I was just being a shit, so wouldn't believe that I was hurt and yelled at me to shut up and get in the car?"

Rachel said...

Beautifully written.

I have my fair share of poop stories over here, but the "best" was the first time I put my twins down for a nap in their big boy beds. It was one thing coming in to my one son's crib decorated in the contents of his diaper, but quite another to see it smeared over everything in his room.

That was the last day my boys took a nap.

WhyMommy said...

Oh, poop. Never easy, is it? You'd think after these years of cleaning it up, we'd be used to it, but ... it's still poop.

I like that you guys made up while you dressed her in soft clothes. Nicely done.