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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.

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