It was before 7 a.m. this morning and I had already handled more excrement than any person could be expected to, at least one not in the sanitation business.
Dogs, humans, even the birds overhead as I walked the dogs this morning seemed to demand that I take care of their guano. Of course I was taking the dogs out to potty after the little one had already left a prodigious parcel in our hallway containing his favorite meal of rocks, tissues and dust. This is not a smart animal.
The older girl, the Doodle is a genius. She has a huge vocabulary and could probably manage a critical essay if she had thumbs. She only ate shit once. In her whole life. That was all it took. She was a very small puppy and she sniffed her own droppings in the yard, then had a taste, the looked up at me like “Mmmmm…..no.”
Whereas this little runt has been eating rocks since the day we got him, almost a month ago. He doesn’t seem to connect the throwing up and choking, and the difficulty with bowel movements with the whole eating rocks thing. Yesterday, I was complaining to a friend who has tiny children (like 1 and 2 – the horror years) about having to drag out the little puppy’s poop, because it had gotten tangled in a plastic bag or some other detritus he’d been ingesting.
My friend chimed in with,”Okay, I just walked into my kid’s room and she’s put her hands in her poopy diaper and put it on her face, and the bed and the walls. What are you doing honey?” she broke off to lightly admonish the child. Believe me if one of my kids had done that to me on a day I didn’t have help I wouldn’t be calling them “honey.”
I have another friend, an awe-inspiring young woman in her twenties, who is raising twins with Special Needs. The issues between them range from autism, to Cystic Fibrosis, and both kids are “non-verbal,” which is not as much of a blessing as it sounds. How does she get through it? With humor. When her child once again paints on the wall with poop (not an isolated occasion like my other mom friend) she calls it a “Shit-casso.”
Shitcasso. Fucking priceless.
What fascinates me is that motherhood (or parenting, let’s not leave out the dads and their dicks) is universally lauded as being one of the most important, gratifying and special jobs in the world. Of course we live in a country with poor maternity leave, and appreciation for the maternal seems relegated to that Hallmark holiday once a year.
But this is not what I’m writing about here… What boggles the mind (and the olfactory senses, though I have become expert at closing my nose automatically when I approach any potentially toxic smells) is that a large percentage of motherhood is SHIT work.
Playing boring repetitive games for any human over the age of 10
For babies: anything to do with milk/formula/pureeing organic yucca root or whatever it is you do.
And on and on… And yet, when you farm every single one of these activities out to someone else, I think you miss out on something. Take away the hideous list above and what is left – the occasional cuddle while you all watch Madagascar IV? And yet it is hard to appreciate the piles of laundry, and greasy pans and ground in crumbs on the floor if you have had three hours sleep and have to go to work six days a week. I want to start a movement for “Mothers’ Week” because one day is not enough time to get your bearings back and feel once again like a woman, instead of a category “mother” or “wife” or “PTA volunteer.”
It is the moments in between the moments we think will count, that actually do. You pour everything you can manage into these kids and spouses and animals and someone like me, who is all about what I get, like where’s mine, it can be challenging not to feel like an underpaid, unappreciated, unlucky troll-slave.
Today is one of those rare days where I can see the poetry in the shit. Today, instead of being disdainful that someone of my abilities has essentially the same job as a stable hand, I feel honored. I get to wipe their butts because they trust me and want me close to them. I get to drive them around because I am responsible (and sober) enough to get them to the next activity (which they are usually complaining about.) I get to make sure they are clean, and fed, and prepared, and unharmed by this toxic, hideous shit-full life where bad things happen to good people and G-d seems to have it out for the little guy.
I never thought I would be so grateful for such a complicated, dichotomous shit-show…