The other day my husband Danny changed our son Diego’s nappy. He walked into the room, carrying the folded nappy carcass in his hand. “Oh good!” I said. “He pooped.”
Yep,” Danny acknowledged, patting the smelly white bundle.
“What did it look like?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It was poo.”
“Come on,” I encouraged. “Give me the details.”
“Seriously, it was just regular poo.” He gave me a weird look and started to walk toward the trash.
But I couldn’t help myself. “Was it solid? Runny? Was it dark brown or yellowish? Was there a lot or a little? Did it have chunks of corn in it? Please. Give me the details. Don’t hold back.”
“Seriously, Naomi,” he said. “It was just poo. Brownish colour. Medium amount. No corn. Smelled average. Do you want to taste it?”
I considered this for a minute. “No,” I finally replied. I didn’t want to taste it. But I was, apparently, much more interested in the details of my son’s poo than I ever anticipated.
Before I had children, I was not interested in poo. The idea of changing nappys was not particularly appealing, but I imagined that I would be able to do it out of love for my baby. I never guessed that my life would begin to revolve around the mystifying vortex of my child’s bowels, leaving me breathless as I opened each nappy with expectation. What colour would it be? What texture? Would there be a lot or a little? What would it smell like? Would it be easy to clean or have a tacky consistency that required multiple wet wipes?
During the first few nights after we brought our baby home from the hospital, there were many poos, but I will never forget one in particular. It was close to midnight and Nino woke up. By this time we had a system down. Danny would retrieve the baby from the bassinet, change his nappy and return him to me. Then I would nurse him and (hopefully) put him back to sleep. It was a fair exchange of labour and was working out great.
As I mentioned, Nino woke up and began to fuss. Danny picked him up and placed him gently on the changing table. It was quite dark in the room, but just as Danny lifted Nino’s tiny legs to wipe his bottom, a very visible stream of wet poo shot across the room. It was headed right for Danny’s face. Danny reacted by tossing Nino’s legs into the air and ducking under the table.
I was livid. “You almost threw our baby off the changing table!” I cried.
“He almost pooped in my mouth!” he retorted. “And he’s fine, anyway.”
He was fine, but I was still mad that he had almost launched our baby across the room over a little poo. Thinking back, I realise this was the beginning of the transformation for me. Soon, I would begin keeping lists on poo. I would count poos. I would fret over poo. I would plan my day around anticipated poos. I would carry poo equipment in my handbag. I would tell my friends about particularly memorable poos.
Why? Why the obsession with poop? Do we mothers have nothing better to do than ruminate on something so mundane as poop? Or do we legitimately think that we are getting to know our children better by intimately familiarizing ourselves with the movements of their bowels?
Speaking for myself only, I would have to say that I feel somehow validated by poo. When you spend all your waking hours caring for a tiny baby that does not communicate, the one thing you have is poo. If he poos, you know everything is working the way it’s supposed to. What goes in must come out and finding a giant poo in your baby’s nappy is almost like getting an A+ on a big exam.
However, things change a little as they get older. Before you know it they are hiding under the table while they poo, only to emerge and say in perfect English, “Mommy, I pooped. Change please.” By this time, the poo isn’t as validating as it is stinky, but you want to know the details nonetheless.
My friend Breanna went bowling with some adult friends the other night. She had a small stain on the lower half of her shirt that everyone kept pointing out. “Hey, you’ve got a little something there,” they would say, imagining it was food and that she might want to wipe it off before it stained.
“Listen!” she finally said so everyone could hear. “It’s poo. I know it’s here on my shirt. I’m a mum, okay?”
Point taken. Motherhood = poo. Enough said.