|Photo courtesy of J.H. Fearless/Flickr|
My children have recently embraced the potty-mouth phase of childhood with a dedication they've only ever reserved for macaroni & cheese, "Frozen" and leaping on freshly folded piles of laundry (Lily calls it taking a walk through laundry forest. I call it infuriating).
Their craptivities usually revolve around the word "poop" and with a butt reference here or there. Peak potty-mouth generally hits after Lily gets home from school until bedtime – giving me a full three- to four-hour window to document just how many times references to No. 2 can be made. Jovie, in particular, has turned poo and bottom references into an art form.
A recent (fecal) sampling:
Jovie: Lily, Pretzel pooped on my head. (No, the cat did not defecate on my child.)
Jovie: What are we having for dinner, Poo-getti?
Jovie: If you do that, I'm going to poop on you.
Jovie: Lily, wanna have a poop fight? I'm gonna spray poop at you from my butt.
Lily (Looking at Facebook): Is that a picture of Papa?
Jovie: You mean Poopa?
Jovie: Knock, Knock.
Lily: Who's there?
Jovie: Pencil sharpener.
Lily: Pencil sharpener who?
Jovie: I'm a pencil sharpener that pooped.
Then there's been the festive array of holiday-related references, too ('tis the season!):
Jovie: Merry Buttmas!
Lily (to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"): We won't go until we get poop.
Jovie: Jingle poop, jingle poop, jingle all the waaaay!
As you can see, the potty talk isn't clever so much as prolific. Still, there are moments when I can't stop myself from giggling. Like that time when Lily referred to one of their favorite fast-casual dining establishments as Poo-nera. Or, when Jovie singing "Do You Hear What I Hear?" in the voice of an angel, trilled "A star, a star, dancing in the poopy ..."
In the realm of developmental stages, the crapload of poop references I hear on a daily pale in comparison to the days of their infanthood when I was wiping up actual excrement from their tiny behinds or the days of their toddlerhood when I'd periodically have to fish out floaters from the bathtub. I try not to put up a big stink about it – only asking that they limit their pooversations to our house or the car – definitely not in school or in public or around strangers or grandparents. They've been granted a deuce-pensation at certain friend's houses whose parents, like me, have crapped out on enforcing manners.
Sometimes as a parent, in order to keep your shit together, you have to pick your battles.
And of course, as adults we're not immune to talking toilet for shits and giggles. When those Poo Pourri commercials first came out my sisters and I were rolling in laughter (I imagine one or two of them were ready to buy company stock, too). You can imagine my glee when during closing for our York house (we don't need to talk about that right now) our real estate agent started sharing about a traumatic experience from his childhood (complete with pantomimes) whereby he had to use a shared toilet in the middle of the nursery school basement while a line of 20 or so kids stared at him.
Then, of course, there's a a tale that will go down in the anals -- err annals -- of family lore about the time when my sisters and our cranky kids all went to a water park at the beach on the hottest day of the year and chose to not make eye contact with a little log leisurely floating across the pool. Don't judge us. Earlier, as soon as we'd arrived at the waterpark and slathered sunblock on the kids (and you know that's no picnic) they closed the pool on behalf of a wayward doodie. By the time they reopened the supposedly clean pool, the kids were bouncing off the walls. We soon discovered the pool wasn't clean. But by then we were all in. Did I mention it was really hot? I mean, it was a big pool. Like, a really big pool. And we kept our distance from the uninvited guest. As far as I know, nobody suffered any gastrointestinal distress afterward.
You know what? Let she who has never had an unfortunate poopcident cast the first turd.
It occurred to me in the midst of this recent kid-induced shitstorm that my sense of humor had returned. I'm not claiming to be any sort of comedian. Only that I have the ability, once again, to laugh at my little shitheads instead of just feeling like shit all the time.
The depression I'd been experiencing earlier this fall had completely flushed my ability to be silly. There was no space for joy in my brain. It was too cluttered with darkness. And there was no hope that the darkness would ever, ever go away. It felt like a permanent state of being.
I wrote in my journal that I felt as if my soul had left my body. That the fire that used to fuel me had been extinguished – or at the very least was the smallest of dying embers. I know this all sounds very overdramatic. Very 16-year-old theater student discovering the true depths of Hamlet's grief or something. So many feelings. All the feelings. Well, not really. Actually just a select few of the feelings – Sadness, Desperation, Apathy, Hopelessness – building pathetic outposts and miserable little settlements around my brain. All allowed to grow unfettered like the crabgrass in my old back yard.
In yoga today, we were asked to think about contentment. About being content in this moment. Allowing that feeling of contentment to roll over our tongue, down our throat and fill us.
Our instructor asked us to reflect on contentment. Several people raised their hands and offered thoughts about finding inner peace or making the choice to be optimistic. Without thinking too much I raised my hand and started talking about moving and depression and the realization I had recently that I was OK. I had a bit of mouth diarrhea (sorry couldn't resist). But saying out loud what I had been thinking in that space really helped affirm its truth.
As we were breathing through different poses, our instructor made sure that we paused. Sometimes we'd pause in an uncomfortable place, but we'd pause just the same and look for contentment in that moment. And often I'd find it.
It occurred to me that in the midst of depression, my brain tells me I'll feel awful for always. Like it was where I would always land. And that in moments of happiness, my brain always seems to remind me it's fleeting.
This contentment our instructor spoke of, it felt both lasting and fleeting. I could feel it in moments of discomfort just the same as I could feel it in moments of happiness. It could be my new baseline. I could laugh and land back there. Or, I could be sad and land back there. And that feels like a huge gift.
Earlier this week, the girls and I were decorating sugar cookies. They frosted and sprinkled for a record amount of time, but, as is usually the case, got tired of the job before all the cookies were done.
First Lily told me she was done. Then Jovie.
"Here we go again," I whined. "Every year I get left to decorate the rest of the cookies all by myself."
Jovie paused on the stool she was about to hop down from. And then you know what my little shit stirrer did? She looked me in the eye and said, "Not this year mom," and decorated with me until every last cookie was covered in technicolor sugar.
My girl might be full of shit, but she's also made of sugar and spice.
She's always reminding me that while there are plenty of times when life is crap, it's also a pretty wonderful life.