I’m a mother of three. A strong woman, in body and mind and will, I can handle a whole lotta stuff. But there are days… days when it’s clear I must give up and go home for a while.
This past Sunday was one such day. Three of my good friends and I were at a local restaurant after Sunday services celebrating a birthday. My little 16 month old, Caleb, was with us. He kept us all entertained with his cute little smiles and funny attempts at using a spoon. After a while, he got squirmy in the high chair and I let him get down and toddle around right by my chair. In a few moments, he positioned himself behind my chair and got very still. Any mother of a toddler can guess what he was doing.
At first I was simply thankful for a few moments of stillness to converse with my friends without simultaneously wrestling with a small boy. Then I smelled it. No time to dawdle on this, being in the middle of a restaurant and all, I snatched him right up, grabbing the diaper bag in one smooth motion and headed off to the restroom. Upon my arrival in the ladies room, I discovered that Caleb’s poop had run down his leg and into his shoe. (Yes, since I had picked him up, it was also on my dress.) Guess how many wipes I had? A grand total of two!
Luckily, the baby changing station in this public restroom was located right next to the sink and paper towel dispenser. So, I just gave Caleb the best kind of public-restroom-sink-bath I could. I wrapped his clothes and shoes in one of those disposable plastic lined changing station pads that are usually always out of stock. This restroom was well supplied, thank God. I dressed him in clean clothes, cleaned my dress as much as a dress can be cleaned by a woman having only two hands and needing to keep a stinky toddler off of a public restroom floor, and returned to the table.
During my difficult but successful cleaning process, I wondered… “If the poop is in his shoe… certainly it’s not on the floor also. I mean, they’re sandals, but it was all contained in the shoe, right? I don’t see how one little boy could have possibly made THAT much poop.” Upon returning to the table, my fears were confirmed. Just behind my chair there was a nice sized pile of liquid baby poop. Oddly, it had gone unnoticed by my friends AND by the dad of the family sitting behind us (meaning the poop pile BEHIND my chair was directly BESIDE him.)
Mortified beyond imagination, I alerted restaurant staff of the poop problem. They “messed” the situation up even more, in my opinion. Instead of moving the affected parties, they simply brought a pile of napkins to place over the poopoo puddle and expected everyone to keep right on eating. (Which the family behind us DID, completely and graciously ignoring the issue. That guy musta been REALLY hungry. My friends on the other hand did NOT continue eating due to their uncontrollable GUFFAWING at my little predicament.)
We sat for several more tortured minutes and my husband arrived, expecting to enjoy a drink and a visit with our friends. By this time, however, Caleb was restless, and I couldn’t let him down since we were literally sitting in a pile of poop. Misery set in for us all. It was time to give up. Take my toys and go home. Admit my defeat and let it go. So I did. I paid the bill and left the restaurant, wondering how much to tip a waitress who will undoubtedly be doing a little more work than she bargained for. I left the poop behind and retreated to the safety of my home, where wipes are in abundance and bathtubs are full-size and readily available.
Sometimes life has a way of pouring on the poop. And sometimes I just don’t know when to quit. I find myself sitting in the situation, completely in misery. The poop situation with my son was just another day in the life of a mommy, but it reminded me of my own stubborn ways. I don’t want to admit defeat, even when staying and fighting makes things worse. One of my mentors gave me advice to live by. He used to say simply: “Avoid misery.”
Sometimes I continue in situations where I clearly don’t belong and am ineffective, yet I don’t want to “lose.” Sometimes, I require things of myself , unnecessary things, and in that process subject myself and my family to irritability, anxiety, and yes, misery. I’ve decided not to forget this lesson: Sometimes poop prevails. And when the poop prevails, it’s time to go home. Home to the place where you have what you need. Clean up, recharge, and go out to fight another day.
Next time you’re in a stinky situation, don’t take it so hard. There are times to stay and fight, but there are also times to retreat and regroup. May you and I have the wisdom and insight needed to recognize such times, and may we have the grace to give ourselves permission to lose one battle in order to win an entire war.by