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On Humility and Turds

Parenting's Reward

My sweet little slice of humble pie

A few mornings ago, I unzipped my son’s sleep sack and two perfectly round turds popped out, fell to the floor and rolled under the changing table.

Thunk, thunk, rooollllll.

I stood there, frozen, thinking, how did those turds escape?, only to proceed further and discover my son’s pajamas were unsnapped and up around his waist. His diaper, pee-stained but turd-free, was unfastened and resting at the bottom of the sleep sack. Poop was everywhere.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as a mom, it’s the importance of humility.

The funny thing was, I had just had lunch with a friend the day before the turd incident, and humility was the very thing we were discussing. I had recently been involved in quite a few conversations with other moms that had carried a pretty judgmental tone. Whenever I encounter moms bashing other moms for their parenting styles or decisions — or even just talking in a know-it-all fashion — I think about humility.

The most common fodder for the “Mommy Wars” that have gotten so much press lately is the decision to work a traditional job or stay home to raise kids. What those engaged in this silly battle seem to overlook is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to life, and there are challenges no matter which road you choose to take.

Wendy Goffe writes in her article, “A Working Mom Defends the ‘Lululemon Stay-at-Home Mother’” that she’s thankful for her job and ability to pay for a nanny, because she doesn’t “have the skills to raise five children.”

There are days when I don’t believe I have those skills either. Especially on mornings when I find I’ve failed to perform the simple act of properly fastening a diaper so my son’s legs don’t wind up smeared in poop. When you’re a stay-at-home-mom and fastening diapers is a pretty prominent part of your job description, that’s a demoralizing feeling.

What gets me through the day is humility. I remind myself that I don’t have it all figured out, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be intimidated by the supreme responsibility of raising a human being from an infant to a man. Shouldn’t we all be?

Contrary to the fussy, colicky baby I prepared for throughout my pregnancy, my son sleeps through the night, eats well, plays independently and has a happy demeanor most of the time. I consider this nothing more than immensely good fortune, and I thank my lucky stars for him nearly every day.

If anything, this makes me less qualified to judge a mom whose baby cries incessantly, or wakes several times a night for months on end or refuses to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. What do I know about that mom’s struggle? What makes me think I would handle those challenges better?

And, also, there’s this one little thing about parenting that we all have to remember: things change.

After months of sleeping beautifully, my son recently starting waking up crying in the middle of the night. At times I worried my parenting luck had run out. But we got through what turned out to be a simultaneous growth spurt and rough teething patch. Now, we’re dealing with a new challenge: his proclivity for biting. Hard.

That three-week span when I found myself rocking a crying baby in the middle of the night, I thought about how fortunate I’ve been. I can’t imagine how much strength it would take to deal with that all the time. I don’t judge moms who have had a tough road with their babies; I admire them. I sympathize. I raise my fist in solidarity with them.

And I sure hope those moms who have never had to wipe up after a turd on the loose don’t judge me.

*       *       *       *       *

Welcome to those of you who found my blog via Freshly Pressed! Thanks so much for stopping by, and thanks to WordPress.com for … just, everything. Follow my blog to keep in touch!

132 responses »

  1. Beautifully said. Your humble mom.

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  2. Love this…..!! It happened to me with our first child…………….

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  3. Ask your mom to buy you the new book Heather Rigney Shumaker just wrote with a lot of SYC philosophy in it. Title, “Its Okay Not to Share”. It is a parenting book for parents of young children which you are becoming! mommy Jan

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  4. Yes! That’s hilarious. :) parenting is humbling and hard. As is going to work everyday. It’s amazing how much discussion can go into defending one’s personal choice.

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  5. Great post, very cute! It reminds me of my mom when raising my brother.

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  6. Great post, very cute! It reminds me of my mom when raising my brother.

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  7. I had two babies that didn’t sleep… we’re going on 5 years of sleep deprivation. One day I was so tired that I put my baby girl down with NO diaper. :) Congrats on being freshly pressed. :)

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  8. In the book on parenting, around about chapter 3528, they mention “properly fastening a diaper”, but you probably haven’t read that far yet.

    Anyhow, have faith, I’m sure his behavior will have improved by the time he’s 21.

    http://cartoonmick.wordpress.com/humorous-illustration/

    Cheers

    Mick

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    • I find it strange that the basics of diapering wouldn’t be covered until chapter 3528, but I guess that seems about par for the course with this parenting business. Cheers to you as well, and thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I agree with you 100%. Mums shouldn’t judge other mums for their decisions. We do what we think will be best for our children, and for ourselves. All we can hope for is that either way, stay at home, go back to work, forgetting to snap everything closed properly a couple of times, making mistakes…the kids grow up happy, healthy, respectful and thankful, for whatever choices we as mums made. A friend of mine had her not quite 2 year old take his nappy (diaper) off and smear poo all over the window while waving at the neighbours… he poo’d in the bookcase, under the bed. Anywhere but the potty… and she’d already had 2 kids brought up exactly the same without any of the poo drama. No judging involved, just lots of laughing and listening and hugs.

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  10. I love this! I feel humbled daily in this job. Unintentionally, I find myself judging people all the time, but I try to remind myself that I truly have no idea! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

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  11. Great read, I definitely understand how you feel! I have been a stay at home dad for 19 months now to my baby girl… lost my job in Feb 2011 and have had the privilege to experience all the things mom’s experience first hand. Keep up the good writing!

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  12. Reblogged this on Rahul Gauchan and commented:
    so true

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  13. brings back many memories. could share one jcpenney picture day pooptastrafy all over the store rug. greatfully after photos were taken. lol.

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  14. Anything in regards to turd is most definitely humbling. Ever get it under your nail then you’re just set up for much worse just when you think that’s as bad as it gets. Parenting With Poop – it comes with the territory.

    Congratulations on Freshly Pressed!

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  15. Great, funny read – thanks for the smiles. In my family, we had a similar poop roll happen at the supermarket. Just a little ackward. Anyway, cute photo -beautiful child- take good care.

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  16. Takes me back to the wonderful days of early motherhood – great read.

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  17. Amen, sister……if it’s any consolation, I had three nappy blow outs in one day recently.
    Love, Fellow Nappy Spazz.

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  18. Loved your post! The teen years, so far as I’m not done yet, have made me even more humble! Best wishes.

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  19. Well said. To coin the phrase, you’re keepin’ it real, honey! I feel that’s what’s going to help us make it through – being humble so you can adjust. Although being a mom is a blessing, it has it’s stresses like anything else. And you are right, being judgmental of someone is not going to help them or you for that matter. Oh well, I just enjoyed your post, that’s all! Thanks….

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  20. Lovely post. I drop my hat for moms who have crying always-cranky babies and still manage to smile, to laugh and to want to try again! Kudos to you. Wish you a rolling-turd free time! lol

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  21. Great perspective! We all risk falling into the ‘I’ve got this’ attitude, at least until life & kids come along and smear some poo on our ego. Humility in my house is the doorknob-shaped hole behind my daughter’s door, reminding me daily that I’m always just a couple sleep-deprived nights away from slamming doors open and screaming.

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  22. Love the post. It reminds me of a guy I used to work with. His wife suffered a similar break for freedom but didn’t notice it. He did notice it upon entering the room but failed to recognise the escapee for what it was. He mistook it for a malteser (a chocolate covered honeycomb sweet popular in the U.K.). Thinking one of his other children had dropped it, he popped it in his mouth. Hope you’re not reading your replies over breakfast.

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  23. Lovely reminder of long ago nights. Thanks for the wonderful description of early mothering. Choose your life, it’s the only one you can control. Wonderful post. Congrats on FP.

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  24. Oh gosh! How hard it must be to feel as if you’re doing the right thing and being a good parent. So many factors to factor in. There’s also another human being in the mix (your child) and they have a personality of their own! You can’t just make things better with the snap of your fingers (no matter how good of a parent you are!).

    I like the point about how Wendy Goffe wrote that she doesn’t “have the skills to raise five children.” Sometimes I think people have to realize and accept their limitations and do the best they can with that certain situation (whether it comes to parenting or anything else in life). No one should be judged badly for that. What would be bad is going along not realizing that you don’t have the tools and the children suffer for it.

    Lovely post! Thanks :)

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  25. As a former nanny, I find this hilarious! You do pretty much have to forget your shame in the face of little kids and their bodily functions!

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  26. Thanks for reminding me how full of funny the baby stage was… Humility continuing into the teen-kid years, always good to share that around!

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  27. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning. When I went to greet my 5-month-old in her crib this morning, I found her covered in spittup that had also soaked her sheet. She was cold and stinky and I felt horrible that I hadn’t checked on her overnight and fixed this, since it likely occurred within an hour or so of when she fell asleep for the night. Thank you for reminding me that it’s OK that I’m not perfect and that babies are resilient. How else would they resist the gaffes of their parents?

    Congratulations on Freshly Pressed! I will be following!

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    • Oh, I’ve been there, believe me. It happens! You can’t be on top of every single little thing, although it’s hard to forgive yourself when you’re not. I know this is the hardest job I’ve ever had, so I’m bound to screw something up from time to time.

      I’m thrilled to have you as a follower — thanks and best of luck to you!

      Reply
  28. Well written. Good points! I’m not a mom yet, but most all my good friends are and everyone certainly has an opinion about parenthood. It’s nice to be in a spot to just watch and learn.

    Cracked up laughing with your first paragraph…way to rope us in!

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  29. Good post!!

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  30. I’ve been having my own poop issues with my kids lately. Thanks for the humor. I too am constantly humbled.

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  31. Oh you lovely lady you! Reading your post, makes me feel so much better. I’m a mum to a three year old and 10 month old twins. The amount of guilt I feel some times about how I’m just not doing things perfect (which is often expected of SAHMs) is overwhelming. Thank goodness for people like you, who don’t jump on the parent bashing band-wagon!

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    • Guilt? With three under the age of three, you should pat yourself on the back everyday — you have quite a job to do! As I’m learning, guilt is useless, judgment is senseless and parent-bashing is pointless. It takes a village! I’m so glad this post resonated with you. Best of luck!

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  32. Loved this post. Save it for your baby so that he will remember what you had to go through. :)

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  33. Watch out for those turds! So funny! Thanks for sharing. http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

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  34. Sh*t happens, it’s all good. In 30 years of child care I’ve seen it all, pretty much. I’ve even been pooped ON a few times. Lovely blog!

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  35. I think every mom has a couple really terrifying (for us non-moms) poop stories :S eek! About a month ago, I started working at a preschool that has children from 6 weeks to 6 years. I’m just waiting for my first blow-out. It’s going to be horrible. The smell of some diapers makes me up-chuck in my mouth.

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    • I think taking care of other people’s kids is harder than taking care of your own, so you’ve already got a leg up! There’s no getting over those diapers, though, I’m sorry to say. Thanks for reading!

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  36. Funny – very nice post!

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  37. I do love this post. You are perfectly correct. Being a mama is the most humbling experience I have come into contact with. I have been up at night often (so often) with my boys but am yet to have the escape artist poo. Not so eloquently changed, yes. But straight up rolled away? No. Regardless, I promise not to judge ya ;) Congrats on the freshly pressed! Glad I got to see your blog!

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  38. Great post! Congrats on Freshly Pressed :)

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  39. I hope one day I can be a mom and experience turds and humility in that beautiful way! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

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  40. My greatest lessons I have learned from my children and the inspiring collection of women that share my journey as a mother. This piece is beautifully written.

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  41. I think every parent has a least one good turd day when in the diaper phase. I really appreciated how you remind us to deal with it with humility. So true, and so true of all of life. We know nothing of what goes on in another’s life.. a little humility towards someone else’s process would go a long way.
    Congrats on the FP, too! Beautifully written!
    Cheers,
    iRuniBreathe

    Reply
  42. I’m in the process of learning this lesson myself and I’m afraid I still have a big (forced) attitude adjustment in my future. Im currently 7 months pregnant (with my first) and realizing how important humility is in these utterly undignified and horrifically embarrassing 40 weeks. Unfortunately I still have all these grandiose ideas of motherhood and parenting that tempt me to judge veteran mothers. I’m looking forward to see how much judgement I have left in me when I’m actually face to face with the little pooping machine!

    Great blog, btw!

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    • Thank you! After my experience, I describe pregnancy as one humiliation after another. Your body goes absolutely nuts on you. But, I promise, it’s worth it. You’ll figure it all out in no time. Just try to keep your sense of humor about you, and you’ll be fine!

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  43. sheenaeastonwannabe

    I have always said being a parent is the most humbling experience ever. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

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  44. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I found this post in that way, and I laughed almost aloud (there ARE sleeping children nearby) and nodded my head in agreement the whole way down. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all mothering formula, and there is always more to a mom’s story than we see on the outside. Humility is key, you hit the nail on the head. I am trying desperately to stay on the sidelines of the Mommy Wars and just keep blooming where I’ve been planted. I look forward to reading more of your posts. God bless.

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  45. I love this, I love to hear real dialogue about being a mother. I wasn’t able to breast feed my daughter as much as I wanted because my milk never fully came in…I felt like I had failed as a mother because I couldn’t do one of the most basic things. I mean all the pics of breastfeeding mothers and babies look so serene, child latched perfectly etc….that wasn’t my reality. I was in a breakfast place I frequent one morning and a new fellow was working, he mentioned his girlfriend was pregnant then said “I heard to spoke of having a daughter, any advice for me to prepare being a father?” I looked at him and deadpanned, “there is no preparation.” He gave me this look like “what? So many go on and on about how to prepare…” I followed up with “well, I can tell you my experience, however, that won’t be yours. There is only one me and one daughter of mine, you and your child will have your own set of circumstances…but I guess if there’s one thing; no worries, you’ll make it through, take it all in and figure out what works for you and your family. Humility definitely helps one keep perspective!

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    • That it does! And for the record, my breastfeeding experience couldn’t have been more different from the serene pictures of mother and babe. It was eight months of struggle and frustration, ending in a whole lot of biting. Yes, it was rewarding in some ways, but it isn’t easy and it isn’t pretty! Best wishes to you.

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  46. you’re not a mom if you don’t have a good poop story :) congrats on being fresh pressed on this great post!

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  47. Two lines from your great article that made me nod in agreement:

    “there is no one-size-fits-all approach to life” Couldn’t agree more, flexibility and not a ‘closed system’ are key.

    “What gets me through the day is humility. I remind myself that I don’t have it all figured out, and that’s okay.” Took me a long time to figure that out.

    Thanks for your article :-)

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  48. I liked how you brought up that “things change”. My son used to eat very well at every meal. But as we approach the terrible twos, some days he hardly eats at all. And usually about 3 days every month we have to work on sleeping issues. It is like he forgets and we have to re-train him or something.

    Or the neighbor just slams his car door really hard when he leaves for work at 3am.

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  49. Your post reminded me of the many diapering and poop fiascos I experienced when my kids were little. We still laugh about some of them – potty humor reigns supreme at my house. I had no idea it was such a universal experience! Now that my kids are 11, 13, and 15, I’m finding I eat humble pie by the shovelfuls. Thanks for the smiles and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

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  50. With my first born, I once woke to poop finger painting…the crib, the walls, the baby. It’s all about how you handle it…poop happens!

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  51. You make a lot of great points. I’m not a parent, but I do believe in the importance of humility in everything we do. You illustrated that quite well with this post. When you are humble towards others, you increase your capacity to understand them, which enables us to be compassionate to others. Judgement only leads to bitterness.

    Awesome post, was an interested read.

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  52. Great post. The joy of poo!

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  53. I am not a mother but can relate to everything you talk about. I work from home and spend hours with my stepd-daughter’s son since it was born. She moved in when she was pregnant and we have enjoyed this precious bundle of joy since he was born. I have experienced both sides. My son who cried all the time and was a challenge infancy, toddler up to about 6 years old. Then my step-daughter’s son who sleeps all night without waking starting from the first day home from the hospital and who is happy all day waving at everyone. Reading your article I do understand that humility is definitely a trait that is needed along with patience and compassion when trying to raise a little one. He is a 14 month happy and care free baby. I really enjoyed your article. Now I have to vote on him for the gerber baby.

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  54. Aaah brought back wonderful memories of having to simultaneously change a very small little mans’ entire outfit (he was about a week old at the time) while cleaning up his daddies trousers, since the runny poop of our week old monster had ended up out of him and straight into daddies pocket. was certainly a fun day Thanks for the wonderfully written post :)

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  55. Ah, nothing like a good solid turd earlier in the morning to humble a person. My kids are grown and gone and I still learn from them :)

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  56. In a world where the focus on child abuse is rampant- It is easier to focus on the horrors children suffer under ignorant “parents.”

    Thank you for allowing me to close that gap a little bit more this morning.

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  57. Parenthood is synonymous with humility. But what a beautiful ride! Love, Dee

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  58. A really beautiful post even with much discussion of turds. You did an excellent job of pacing and roping the reader in right from the beginning. Your thoughts on parenting are enlightening and yes, humble. I particularly enjoyed your line, “It’s okay to be intimidated by the supreme responsibility of raising a human being from an infant to a man.” How well said that is. Who could not be humbled or even dumbfounded by such an immense responsibility? Thank you for sharing. It was a pleasure to read.

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  59. I used to work for an opera singer and his vocal coach/wife and was asked to travel with them as a nanny. I jumped at the chance! What 19 year old wouldn’t jump at a chance to travel to Sicily and France? The food, the landscape, the architecture, the art, the natural light (Now I know for myself why artists love to live along the Mediterranean Sea), the people, the cultures… everything was absolutely beautiful! Well, almost everything. The toddler that I watched liked to get down from the dinner table, run around it, and stand right behind my chair… to poop! There was one night that he apparently didn’t do this nightly ritual. He had just had a bath. He liked to run naked after his bath before his diaper and jammies went on. This particular night, he ran down the hall, into the living room, and into a built in shelving unit (where he liked to hide). Sounds innocent enough… right?!!? Not when he left a trail of turds as he ran along!! Here’s where the humility came about-while I was in Europe, I was sending emails back home to my parents, who would share them with my 4 siblings. Little did I know, they were being printed out and being read at my church!!

    I’ve had a lot of experience with helping to raise other people’s children (I was babysitting by the time I was 11 or 12, worked at a summer camp as a counselor when I was a teen-where I had to deal with many serious life issues that these kids brought with them, I was a nanny, I was a Resident Advisor and Student Ambassador at college, etc)… So, when it came time for me to have my own, I thought I knew everything I was supposed to do and knew what others had done with their kids that I did NOT want to do with my own children. However, no matter how prepared one is, it is still ‘intimidating’ to you know you have the ‘supreme responsibility of raising a human being’! It’s a learning experience for us parents as much as it is for the child(ren). Regardless of what I have or have not been able to do for them and with them, or what kind of lessons I have taught them along the way (sometimes you may not know until years later that what you are saying has actually sunk in!), I know that I’m raising two compassionate little girls, and that will go a long way in this “I, Me, Me” world of today!

    Thanks for sharing your humility!

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  60. First of all CONGRATULATIONS on being FP’d! I’m happy to have discovered your blog. Twice when my now 6 year old was still in a crib, I walked into her room after nap time to discover poo smeared everywhere – walls, crib, her hair, face, body – it was glamorous to say the least. My first daughter was a breeze. I thought I was a naturally gifted mom (I was wrong). My second (the poo smearer) taught me a lot about being a mom. Most importantly, she taught me never to judge other moms. We are all doing the best we can do!

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  61. We thoroughly enjoyed the honesty of your post – the side of motherhood people forget to tell you about. We would like to invite you to submit a piece to our blog-zine Project Lola – a place where women come to share stories and own their voice. It’s a blog written by women, for women. Again, great read!

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  62. ha! i love the title. great post

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  63. Delightful post! (My thanks to WP Freshly Pressed, too, for finding your blog!)
    I really appreciated this post, as I’m a mom of a colic baby. Thankfully, she’s 7 now.
    Although I miss the ‘baby’, I do not miss those 6 months of her absolute misery, and my guilt over the inability to console her.

    Blessings! to You and your Family.

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  64. Great post! Your baby is lucky to have you as a mom.
    The best thing is acknowledging that no one is born knowing how to do everything, and that we are constantly learning and being put to the test.
    Excellent picture, by the way.

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  65. Love your post! Yes, it’s your humility that will get through this “supreme responsibility of raising a human being from an infant to a man!” My “baby” is 22 years old, and I’ve loved every moment of helping God raise him!! Even the “turd-y” parts!! Ha!

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  66. I love your honest and forthright approach on not judging others too harshly. However, many of us don’t apply that same level of forgiveness to ourselves. Please visit our family blog:
    http://www.Cop-A-Squat.com and read our latest post: FORGIVE YOURSELF.

    Congrats on the Freshly Pressed.

    Paul

    Reply
  67. loved your post… so positive!!… and a lesson for many :)
    I am following your blog now, in hope of more positive things to hear at times when I need them most :)

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  68. Love this post! Thank you! Moms have to stick together…

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  69. transitionstande

    What a great post. You are so right that we should not judge other mothers and that all babies are different. I had more or less smooth sailing with my first 3 kids. Then along came number 4, who didn’t sleep thru the night for nearly 3 years, and wouldn’t let me stop breastfeeding him! When we were in a public place, he used to shout at the top of his voice, “Mummy, I want your minkies!” So humiliating!!!

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  70. Love Many Trust Few

    There is a parenting book out called ‘shit on my hands’. I’ve never read it but often think about it as I continue to work on toilet training my 5 yo who has autism and the endless nappies of my 2 & 1yo’s. As a foster carer of mostly babies, i feel like i am keeping nappy & wipe companies in business. Keeping your sense of humor despite dealing with more poo than anyone should have to in one lifetime – humility! Congrats on the FP!

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  71. Oh how motherhood changes us! I had a “turd” situation where the little stinker rolled out of the diaper onto the floor, and when I stepped back to clean it up…SQISH – I stepped on another runaway pooper! Humility and laughter, I keep them in reach at all times :)

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  72. This was great! I have managed to stay clear of poopies on the loose so far, but I have three children ages 5 and under. There’s still time. My current phase right now: my 11mo old spitting his food out. I’ve just about had it with washing green baby food out of my hair…and it’s only been three days!!!

    LOVED this! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  73. Well put! I have a son like yours (well, only five weeks old, but..) and I can’t do nothing else but admire those who struggle with crying, wake-nights and everything that comes with. Where do the find the strength?

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  74. Just found you on freshly pressed! Great perspective! Despite having an “easy” first baby, with my colickey second I was quick to judge other mothers with “easy” ones- that they couldn’t possibly understand or have as many mommy “chops” as I did. Looking back, perhaps I’ll blame it on sleep deprivation ;) Thanks for the great read!

    Reply
  75. Despite the hiccups around chocolate surprises, this post ignited my desire to one day start a family of my own. I swear, were it not for school, college, and a little bit of post-teens partying, I’d get hitched & start producing right now. Really, really charming stuff.

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  76. A breath of fresh, hilarious air – never mind the odd turd stinking up the air a bit!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Well deserved!

    Reply
  77. Oh I can relate! Haha. Thank you for this :)

    Reply
  78. Pingback: Blog Love « Mumblings of Mommy Manguy

  79. Pingback: What Ben Affleck Knows About Companionate Love | The Bump Life

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