One time we were at the mall playground and Landon said he had to potty. As soon as he came over, I knew it was too late. The deed was
dumped done. So I walked him to the restroom. Past that super annoying kiosk where they always try to straighten my hair. Do I really look like I want to have my hair straightened right now, dude!? I got him changed and cleaned up and we headed back to the playground when the couple walking in front of us [think Jay-Z and Beyonce. Seriously, they were so glamorous.] stopped and the guy started shouting, “I just stepped in s**t! It was just sitting right there. And I just stepped in it.” Why is there poop on the floor of the mall, I thought to myself. Why would someone do that. Now it’s all over the sole of this guy’s super expensive looking shoes. Hm. … Hm. Kids. We have to leave. Now.
You know when you find out someone is pregnant with their first kid and you try to figure out how to give them just enough of a sense of their future endeavor short of causing a panic attack?
My go-to advice is usually to go see a movie. In a movie theater. I’ve seen a handful of movies in the “actual” theater since becoming a mother. It’s not the same. Something in motherhood increases your ability to multi-task, but it’s hard to turn off. There are no more carefree, leisurely days of spending three hours in a dark room with nothing to do but sit back and relax [I’m sure they’ll come back one day. Right!? After we’re past the toddlerhood goodness. Someone say yes.]. Heaven forbid the movie show some sort of food fight or crazy mess. Hits a little too close to home, if you know what I mean.
I always try to tell them to enjoy each moment too. Which is the worst advice because 1) People give it to mothers in the worst places. Oh, your sweet child is throwing a tantrum in the checkout line at the grocery store because you wouldn’t buy them a package of re-fried beans!? Well, enjoy every moment. 2) You don’t really get this until later. Until your baby starts growing up or you have another baby and accidentally mourn a tiny bit for the time when it was just the two of you during the day.
Someone should prepare them for the verbal assualts, too. Right? I mean pregnancy does it a little with the “Is it twins?” and “Must be any day now” numbers. But there’s still a little burn when people ask “Are they all yours? or “Were they all planned?”. It sort of helps to know it happens to everyone. No one is safe!
But the poop really is the thing that surprised me most about motherhood. I just didn’t know there would be so much. How! Why! Where!? Like you know potty-training won’t be fun but did anybody tell you about potty training at Target!? And all the things there are to touch in public restrooms. How warm pee really is on your jeans. Or the fact that poop can make it out of underwear and down a pants leg. I really didn’t think that was possible. But that’s how you find poop in your van.
But you know what else poop in your van does? It breaks stuff down. The stuff inside that pushes you to hold yourself to impossibly high motherhood standards. It reminds you that you aren’t perfect while simultaneously showing you that the world won’t end if something gross and disgusting happens. It gives you a great story to tell your friends when they need a pick-me-up.
And I think, for me, that’s where the balance of motherhood lies. There are so many responsibilities added when you enter parenthood. But there are also all these gifts. It’s joy in small things. Laughter over cutely mis-pronounced words. Giggles over what your sister would say if she knew you found poop in your van [hashtag secret’s out].
Sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up in all the messes and the doing. So that’s what I’d tell someone entering motherhood: don’t forget to find all the laughs you can- sometimes you might reeeeeally have to search. Take a long time staring at their faces [its not creepy! I promise]. Remember every feature. Pray over them. Have giggle wars and tickle fests. Thank God for this incredible gift. Steal slow moments everywhere you can.