The Road to Parenthood Is Paved in Poop


It never fails. Just when I've prepared a meal for myself and I'm sitting down to enjoy five minutes of peace, the call echoes down the hallway.

"MOmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Can you come wipe my butt?"

I enter the bathroom and there he is, my 3-year-old. He is pantsless and has arranged himself in the Sort-of-Amusing, Sort-of-Gross Position of His Own Invention: hands planted firmly on the ground, tiny naked rear end pointed straight up in the air. It is now my job to deal with his wee butthole, and any detritus that may have accumulated there.

Suddenly, my turkey sandwich with mustard isn't sounding so appealing.


Oh, I remember back when both kids were in diapers, and how I assumed that once potty training was underway, all my poop-related duties (heh) would be over with. For some reason, I never pictured myself dealing with a young toddler's accidents, and how a pooped pair of underpants is approximately eleventy jillion times more disgusting than a diaper could possibly ever be.

(When my first son was in daycare, his teachers would occasionally send home a horrific surprise contained in a disturbingly thin plastic bag: a pair of Spider-Man briefs so warmly befouled they actually created condensation on the inside of the bag, like the world's most disgusting rain forest. I learned to send those bags directly to the garbage, do not pass GO, do not bother attempting to launder.)

Even once we got past the accident stage, it seems like there's an interminable amount of time between when a child has mastered the art of dropping a stack in the designated stack-dropping device and the point when they have the hand-eye coordination to be trusted to wipe their own butts. So that's where I am with our youngest: at least I'm done with diapers, but on some days, I'm not 100 percent sure that manually cleaning a kid's rear end and flushing the always-forgotten contents of their toilet several times a day is a major improvement.

And then there's the older child, who has the ability to produce such a noxious Toxic Event in the bathroom I sometimes have to rush around the house slamming open windows and lighting candles. As I double over, choking and wiping at my streaming, reddened eyes, my husband smiles with pride. "Hell of a calling card, son," he'll say.

My older son in theory is capable of attacking his lower body with a massive oversized wad of toilet paper after he does his business (seriously, why do they always use, like, half a roll at a time?), but let me just say this: I do the laundry in this house, and unless someone is routinely drawing a stripe down the inside of his briefs with a Hershey bar, the kid could use some improvement in his technique.

What I'm saying is that once you have a baby, my GOD are you in for a lot of poop. Years of it, in fact—in various amounts, consistencies, and locations. You will clean it off sofas, dig it from flesh-folds, and rejoice over its appearance in a toilet bowl. You'll find it on your elbow, spray it from a car seat, and endure its grunting appearance mere inches from your own nose.

And someday, you'll wipe a kid's butt, return to your turkey sandwich, shrug, and take a large bite. It will only occur to you later that it might have been a good idea to wash your hands.

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