More Fun Than A Barrel Of…

November 28, 2006

Parenthood is a messy enterprise. A really messy enterprise. The spit, the shit, the snot, the generally cruddiness of it all – I knew this going in. It was gonna get ugly. I knew this. I was ready.

I was prepared for the meconium poo. I went to the prenatal classes, I gasped out loud with everyone else when showed the video and it flashed past that picture of a newborn’s diaper filled with a black, tar-like paste. I was ready for it when it came to a diaper near me.

I was ready for the breastmilk shits that looked liked runny spoiled condiments of the seedy Grey Poupon variety (must. resist. pun.) I’d read about them. I’d seen pictures. I was ready.

I was ready for the dribbly spit-up and the upchuck spit-up and the projectile spit-up and I laughed, laughed, whenever anyone commented on the spit-up with words to the effect of my, that was a big spit-up because ha ha ha they had never really seen serious spit-up, the kind that ends up down the front of your tattered nursing bra and the back of your stretched-out yoga pants, all in one go. I’d seen and felt the worst of the spit-up. I was ready for it.

I was ready for the ever-running rivers of snot.

I was ready for the transformation of the poo that occurred when solids were introduced. I was ready for the increase in volume, and for the substantial intensification of pungency of odour.

I was even ready for the tub dump, even though I didn’t have to deal with that myself. (OK, so maybe that one doesn’t count. Still, I would have been ready, if it had been me attending to that particular bath. I might have gagged a little, but I knew that babies pooped in the tub sometimes. I would have been ready for it.)

Hope is not the only thing that floats.

The interesting thing about that new-parent condition of constant readiness is this: you experience each moment of readiness-met – each experience of having felt prepared for some discomfiting aspect of new parenthood – as an accomplishment that brings you one step closer to the moment when you will no longer need to be ready. You spend the first year of parenthood being ever at-the-ready, secure in the unspoken-but-ever-present-assumption that one day you will be able to relax your guard, that one day, the spit will stop and the shits will end up in a toilet and the snot will not be your responsibility. You forge ahead, believing that things will get easier and cleaner. The children will get bigger and more self-reliant and the days of spit and shit and snot and mess will fade into the background behind you, lost in the mists of recorded (what, you didn’t keep a record of the newborn shits?) and unrecorded family history.

That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? RIGHT?

Because this morning I got up and waded through the knee-deep lake of books and blocks and stuffies and DVD cases that has overtaken our living room and tripped over not one, not two, but three half-eaten mandarin oranges. After picking up the oranges, I tried to give WonderBaby some breakfast, and was rewarded for my efforts by being pelted in the head by a handful of corn puffs and half of a partially-masticated banana, which remained in my hair while I pleaded with my tiny monster to eat please eat some breakfast, a plea that might – might – have elicited a response were it not for the sudden arrival of the morning poo, heralded by a series of distinctly indelicate grunts. Which required, of course, that I interrupt the tossing of the corn puffs and mashing of the fruit to remove her from her chair, during which process I was smeared with the other half of the partially-masticated banana, which she had decided to store in the back of her pajama bottoms for later consumption. By the time I had removed the banana carnage from her pants and readied her for her diaper change, WonderBaby had had enough and decided to remove herself from her change pad mid-change, leaving me with a handful of shitty diaper, which had to be disposed of one-handed so that the other, clean hand could retain its grip on the shit-smeared Wonderbaby who was now determined to head into the cluttered living room and spread fecal matter across all manner of unwashable objects.

At which point it hit me: this is my life. This is it: this messy, shit-smeared existence is not a grotty way-station en route to some more ordered destination, some permanent condition of tidy domestic balance. It is my life. I am going to remain smeared with shit and/or snot and/or vomit and/or food for a very, very long time to come. It is going to be years before I can relax my Yuck Preparedness System, before I can let my guard down and begin each day without the expectation that I will be confronted by something icky or yucky or messy or some combination of all three.

No, oranges and lemons aren’t yucky. Until they’re chewed up and left in pieces for Mommy to step on.

There’s at least one more year of shitty diapers, after which is the no-doubt messy process of encouraging the redirection of the poo toward receptacles involving plumbing. There will be snot and vomit for as many years as I bear primary responsibility for nursing her through illness. There will be clutter and mess indefinitely. And although I assume that WonderBaby will someday overcome the habit of throwing her food on the floor, I imagine that she will continue to derive enjoyment from dumping bowls full of oranges on the floor and frolicking in fruit for some years to come.

There’s no end in sight.

I’m right, aren’t I? I have, in choosing motherhood, embarked upon a project that is not entirely unlike the care and feeding of the Lopburi monkeys in Thailand. My life is just one big Monkey Festival and there is nothing that I can do about it.

This is pretty much what it looks like underneath WonderBaby’s high chair. Citrus fruits, discarded pop cans, Macaque monkeys and all.

It’s a good thing I like monkeys.


Thanks, so much, all of you, for your supportive comments on my decision to withdraw from the finals of the Canadian Blog Awards. It was gratifying to me that so many of you understood.


If I haven’t been visiting very much, it’s not that I don’t still love you all. I’m just a little bit tired and overwhelmed by life these days, and needing to do a bit of cocooning. I’m trying to get caught up as we speak, but my energy is a bit slow to pick up. In the meantime, I’m lurking. I’ll be back up to speed soon.

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    Damselfly November 28, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Ah, yes, this is our life. You think you’re prepared for the yuck and then the yuck after yuck after more yuck starts getting to you….


    kittenpie November 28, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Ah, with the poop going in a place intended for it, I still need to wipe small butt, rinse small potty or flush toilet, convince small nose to blow into kleenex held to it (once I’ve convinced small body to stay still for the purpose), and, freuqently, suggest that noses weren’t expressly intended for small fingers to mine. Yes, it will be some time yet…

    Crunchy Carpets November 28, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Yep….doesn’t end.
    They will never be clean.
    They will always leave gross things around to deal with.

    I have a boy. He can’t actually HIT the toilet when peeing.

    He has had a flu bug. I have been dealing with barf and laundry for two days now. Caity also has a bug but that has resulted in really bad diapers.

    So both ends.

    A dog is good for the under the high chair clean ups though.

    Karen Rani November 28, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    “There’s at least one more year of shitty diapers…”
    Honey. Try nearly TWO more. I’m sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    Cocoon all you need to – that’s the best part of being a parent. Cut yourself some slack!

    Lisa b November 28, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    It was difficult for me to accept that this mess is my life but if it is the price of my baby then so be it.
    Mine started to use the potty just before two and I cannot tell you how sweet that it is not to deal with the poopy diaper.
    My latest mothering wtf was the suggestion by our dentist that I should be flossing the childs teeth.
    Surprisingly that has turned out better than I expected. Which is really like most of this mess I suppose.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    Yeah, I know that ‘at least one year’ was optimistic (hence the ‘at least’). A girl can dream…

    (And, um, FLOSSING?!?!)

    mamatulip November 28, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    I had one of those ‘this is my life?!’ moments yesterday, when I walked in the door and wondered when the tornado hit my house. I totally getcha.

    And “Hope isn’t the only thing that floats” is like, the best thing I’ve read all day.

    ali November 28, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    it sure is glamorous, isn’t it?? :)

    Iris November 28, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    I think you have been to my house a time or two, that scene sounded so familiar. But one thing I missed, are you ready for the fingerpainting poo episode when they wake up from their name in their crib with a diaper full and an empty wall in front of them??? Now you are prepared………..Fantastic spray with Bleach and a bit of Febreeze works really well

    Mayberry November 28, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    It is amazing, the never-ending-ness of it all. On the ONE occasion in the last 4.5 years that my daughter used the toilet totally solo, including wiping, flushing, and washing hands, I almost wept for joy.

    mothergoosemouse November 28, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    Do you know what I sing to the girls when I greet them in the mornings?

    Good morning to you, you live in a zoo, you are my sweet Goosie/Mousie, and I love you!

    Key words here: “You live in a zoo.” We all do. And with the zoo comes a stinky, dirty, cluttered, chaotic mess.

    And while I’ll admit that it’s a beautiful day when the shit hits the water in the toilet bowl, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it gets flushed by the little person who shat.

    crazymumma November 28, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    tired? overwhelmed? what could be the problem? oh ya. sorry I forgot. child. you have child. smart. messy. poopy child.
    I can hardly wait to help my biggirl buy her first package of tampons. Therapy anyone?

    Oh, The Joys November 28, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Oh, the endless piles of plastic cr*p all over the house… this must resonate with all of us. This morning I walked into the kitchen only to bang my shin into one of those giant, plastic red and yellow cars that are usually OUTSIDE. But, no. There is one in the middle of my kitchen.

    lara November 28, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    yeah, i can tell you from experience that it never ends. not because i’m a mom, but because i’m a daughter, and i have a sister, who’s also a daughter. a few years back, my mom, sis, and i were out to breakfast, and my sister got sick to her stomach. when my mom helped her to the bathroom to take care of her, she got thrown up on. by a 20-something. and just this past weekend, i had a huge crying fit and fell asleep beside a gigantic pile of used up snot rags. when i woke up in the morning, pile was gone, because mom had cleaned up my used kleenex for me.

    yeah, we’re perhaps a bit pathetic to be so old and still depending on mom. but mom loves us, and still takes care of us, even through the gross stuff.

    and you will do the same for wonderbaby.

    ewe are here November 28, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Oh dear. Perhaps a strap for your changing table to hold her there?

    As for the rest of it, yes, I suspect I’m going to be doing a lot of wiping of various parts and stuff for many years to come. Sigh. Luckily for MF, he’s darn cute. :-)

    metro mama November 28, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

    Mimi November 28, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    Hihi. Well, now you’ve dashed my hopes of a mess-free future. I thought spraying breast milk was messy, but in a couple of weeks, Miss Baby will be starting solid foods. I have been trying not to imagine what that will be like.

    As for vomit, projectile vomit, I’ve even got pictures …

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    Oh, dear Ewe: change WonderBaby on a change table? HA. We have not used a TABLE since she acquired the ability to forecfully propel herself off of said table. WonderBaby gets changed on the floor. Undignified, but hell, is anything about parenthood dignified?

    Stacy November 28, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Ah yes… those were the days! And just when you think you’ve turned a corner with potty training WonderBaby will start school. School means exposure to all kinds of nasty vomit-causing germs. For me, there have been many nights that I’ve changed the pukey sheets, blankets and pjs; given the girl a bath; and wiped the vomit chunks off the bedpost and the walls… and then had to do it all over again, every hour, on the hour. Fun, fun!
    That’s motherhood for ya.

    Melissa November 28, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    Mine are almost five and two and a half and I will tell you it does get easier. I can go days without cleaning up anything but the table and Nata’s face after dinner. They both now use the toilet and wipe themselves, they only eat at the table, so I only have to clean that up. However when something does happen now, it is just bigger and much messier. A one year old throwing up is different that a five year old throwing up. Snot is snot, but eventually they learn to use Kleenex. It may be a while, but I promise you, there will come a day when all of that is not your life. Now the toys on the floor and everything else….well I’m still there with both mine, so that may never go away.

    Beck November 28, 2006 at 6:33 pm

    Eh, no. Eventually the poo tide does go back out to sea – my seven year old, seriously, it’s been YEARS since she’s been even remotely yucky. Even when she’s sick, she’s like a sick little adult. Of course, she now fights with her brother like an angry monkey, but that’s neither here nor there.

    K November 28, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    I say own it. Own the shitty monkey life — right? I mean, that’s the only way to get through it.

    That’s what I’m trying to tell myself.

    Waya November 28, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    I’m right there with you, but it seems like I deal with poop every other year. What do you expect when you have three kids two years apart, right?! But you know, I take a big stinky package over puke any day!

    Jenn November 28, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    ack, stop – the truth is blinding me!

    Okay, somewhere, deep down, I might have suspected this. sigh.

    Have a deep breath and another cup of coffee. Oh, and I seem to have acquired a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer …want one?

    Mrs. Chicky November 28, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    The damn mess! Poop and boogers and animal hair covered, half eaten crackers everywhere. I’ve given up on thinking of when it will get better and less yucky and decided to concern myself with just getting through the day.

    PunditMom November 28, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    Hang in there, HBM. It does get a little better, but then you get a 6-going-on-16 year old, and that’s a whole different barrel of monkeys!

    jen November 28, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    lovely. i mean that. it’s the journey and the bending that shows us what we are made of, even when we are ready to run the other way.

    An aside to shit: M was sitting on her little chair (she’d turned it on it’s side) took off her diaper, and well, yes, crapped through the chair onto the floor.

    (Her father was on duty.
    Enough said)


    Much More Than A Mom November 28, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Ahhh, the things I have to look forward to…

    It’s all fun and games until someone shits in the tub.

    Veronica Mitchell November 28, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    I hear the shit gets easier.

    But then, one word: lice.

    creative-type dad November 28, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to that monkey festival. But I’ve been to Gymboree – same thing.

    Never had to poo in the tub happen yet. Now I’m a little afraid….

    Karen November 28, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    one time during a stomach bug plaguing our family, we put our 6 year old on a mattress in our room outside the master bathroom to make it easier for him to at least get to a tile floor to puke on…and he himself is a tidy soul, the whole experience was completely shattering to him, all the more reason for me to cowboy up and stay ready for the YUCK…and I have two more besides him to shepherd through this charming life!

    Momish November 28, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    The skeevots factor will never get easier for me, but thankfully, I have had to endure decades of cat vomit, hairballs and poop encrusted fur to ease me into this human whirlwind of messes! I love the monkey analogy, BTW.

    MotherBumper November 28, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    I’ve tested and pushed my boundaries this past week and I’m proud. And disgusted. It’s what I signed up for (sigh).

    Loving the monkeys.

    Laural Dawn November 28, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    I thought it was just me!
    I love my child a tonne. I can’t handle some of the odours. we kind of started toilet training, and then seriously, the poop in the underwear almost killed me. He’s not ready. Neither am I.
    The other day I had my own puking incident (at work). It was awful and gross and the only person I could think to call was my friend who has a child – (age 11) and could deal with it.
    So, my point, once WB is over the grossness your close friends will call on you to clean their puke cause you can handle it.

    emma November 28, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    Actually the monkey festival does come to a hiatus at the end of potty training when there is no more poo on floors and in panties. Then it starts up again when the kids are teens and start drinking and vomiting in the flower beds. Congratulations on navigating it all so far!!

    soleclaw November 28, 2006 at 9:58 pm

    There is light at the end of the tunnel. Eleana is also going through this picky food stage, and my MIL kindly called her on her “tactile issues.” Eleana takes after me and my fear of all things ucky, yucky, squishy and/or gooey. For too long Eleana found bananas too gooey to touch. She got over that and now finds rice to be too sticky.

    Eleana’s new food routine is to take a fork from me which I have poked food onto, shake the fork wildly in the air, and finally put any food survivors still on the fork into her mouth. If the food flies off the fork, the fork hits the floor.

    Of course, sometimes we’re really lucky and are able to witness huge torrents of tears at the mere sight of anything that isn’t of a bright red color (like ketchup or grape tomatoes – her favorites!)

    Suck it up…this may be our life, but it does get better…I think…

    dana November 28, 2006 at 10:41 pm

    I sometimes wish my son was born potty-trained because he poos all too much!

    penelopeto November 28, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    ok, i’ll stop laughing just long enough to say that, dude, call me a terrible mother, but i’m really happy that my (very regular) baby’s morning grunts and ensuing stinkfest happens after i leave for work every day.

    Refinnej November 29, 2006 at 12:10 am

    It does get better. Rarely do I see, smell or have to deal with bodily fluids not my own. There is the occasional butt wipe, and some reminding about the proper place for mucous (affectionately called boogers by my monkeys), but it’s all good.

    One thing, farts don’t count. I have to deal with them daily. Boys love to fart. And then tell you they did it. In case you missed the smell. Or the sound.

    Mine are 8 & 4. Things have been good since the younger turned 3 or so.

    Haley-O November 29, 2006 at 12:33 am

    Oooo I live this post! I was thinking about this today, as I cleaned yet another load of crap off the monkey’s ass! I just laugh it off. Because, I remind myself, this is the easy stuff. When they get older, there’s other kinds of crap we have to deal with. Hopefully, it will be easy for us (it will!)! Anyway, this “Yuck Preparedness System” prepares us, will always prepare us….It’s all good. :)

    Haley-O November 29, 2006 at 12:34 am

    I meant I “love”…not I “live” — by the way! ;)

    Awesome Mom November 29, 2006 at 12:54 am

    I have always thought that reaching into Harry’s high chair should be an event on Fear Factor.

    Alpha DogMa November 29, 2006 at 1:20 am

    I hear ya sistah!

    There comes a point when every mom wonders if she will always be forced to care about and clean-up after the bodily fluids of others. Toilet training the kidlets helped, but I’m still waaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too involved in the process!

    Dutch November 29, 2006 at 2:48 am

    thank you for teaching me about the monkey festival. my life is just a little bit happier right now.

    Go Mama November 29, 2006 at 4:45 am

    OK, aside from your lovely and eloquently detailed shitefest, you really only have another say year or year and a half of the deep, down in the trenches of it all. Then you graduate to skidmarked undies and your kid bellowing at top lung, “Mama wiiiipe meeeee!” Nice.

    Take heart, girls train a lot faster than boys.

    Lady M November 29, 2006 at 8:03 am

    Oh, for the life of a monkey.

    I’m braced (if not prepared) for this messy life caring for Q. But to start over with another one? Not. Ready. Yet!

    Mom101 November 29, 2006 at 9:06 am

    For every stupid teenager who has sex without a condom, I’m just dying to show them this post. Good thing all the pros of baby owning outweigh the shit. So to speak.

    MetroDad November 29, 2006 at 10:10 am

    Speaking of recorded family history, I would have loved to see that all on film. It’s really amazing how, at one moment, all can be calm. But then, moments later, everything hits the fan. Including the shit.

    Yes, thank god they make babies cute.

    Kate November 29, 2006 at 11:24 am

    Funny post! Nobody really prepares you for the “shit” do they? My brother’s kid once flung shit from her diaper all over the bedroom once, too. Not pretty!

    Mad Hatter November 29, 2006 at 11:39 am

    Oh and the bodily fluids and solids are just the tip of the ice berg. The breakfast rebellion, the nudist demands, the tantrums, the, the, the… Monkey festival it is.

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