Shit happens – and gets cleaned up

It’s funny how there is this over arching sense of shit around parenting. Constipation, loose motions, diapers, potty training, finding toilets on the highway… a whole range of worries.

When I had the Brat I didn’t know what hit me – green slimey matter one day, something that  resembled goat cheese the next. From being the young couple who wouldn’t know which end of a baby is up to closely examining the contents of a diaper to see if a missing button was indeed ingested, it’s a short and rather painful journey. I’ll stop before I gross out the non-baby people.

But I will admit that I waited and prayed for him to be toilet trained. At that point in my life it seemed like it was a matter of grave importance and if I didn’t hurry he’d be the only college kid carrying diapers in his backpack. And it happened, slowly and steadily – funnily, very early, as I later realised. It seems like just yesterday that I wrote a post on the Brat getting out of his night diapers. Most young parents are too busy cleaning poop off various surfaces and calculating what they spend on diapers in one month to remember that there is more to it and those who are older don’t bother to tell them that it’s too early to exhale.  That there still remains the stage where they learn to wash their own butts.

Washing two butts other than my own every morning really poses no problem and so I didn’t think much of it. Well, no real problem compared to the nights when he was a newborn, I was lying with my aching stomach stitched up, waking every 2 hours to feed him, every 25 minutes to change his cloth nappy and the cloth beneath it and every 1 hour to walk him back to sleep.

Last year I realised that he’d pretty much taken over his own physical care, except for washing his botty on the potty. No burden on me really, but it would be a good time to get that sorted out too, I figured. And so I began to prepare – not him, but myself, for handing over that last matter of hygiene. But how? I’d never done this before. And I knew he didn’t have it in him to balance a mug of water with one hand and wash with the other.

Hold the mug for him, said one friend. Well that isn’t a solution when he is in school and no one is around to pour.

Teach him to wipe with toilet paper till it comes away clean, suggested another. The OA and I looked at each other and shuddered. We’re desi – we worship soap and water. The thought of a merely wiped and unwashed bum gave us the heebie jeebies. Besides that was not a solution – he’d not find toilet paper in a school or friend’s bathroom.

And then I finally broached it with him and he looked at me disgustedly. What? Wash my own bum? And dirty my hands?

I looked at him in confusion. Eh? And what do you think my hands are like after washing your butt, mister, I asked him? Smelling of flowers?

I’m not doing it, he said firmly. I realised I was also worried about how good a job he’d get done and I didn’t want his hands left dirty.

And so I just stuck to the morning routine and we left  it at that. Until the OA walked in to the toilet one morning and took control. You’re washing your butt if its the last thing you do, he told the Brat. Who took one look at his father and meekly complied.

I stared in shock. And then it struck me. He heard nothing but firmness in his father’s voice. But in my suggestion, he heard something close to hesitation and a tinge of sadness. No, I don’t really get my kicks out of getting another person’s crap on my hands every morning, but with this, the last of the physical dependence my son had on me was over. And somewhere at the back of my mind, that bothered me.

I speak only for myself but the bond that comes from being physically attached to another is a hard one to break. From feeling the quickening of the womb, watching your slim waist swell to 48 inches and your breasts rival Pamela Anderson’s, to physically and painfully delivering your body of that child. From attaching the child to your breast again and dealing with the rigours of nursing to rocking the child against your body and watching the tiny trusting fingers curl into yours to massaging the little limbs with oil and gently holding them over a tub and nervously pouring the first mug of water. From supporting tha baby back as it wobbles and sits up to holding your hands out to break the first fall. From wiping runny noses to powdering a little round bum. So much of parenting is just the physical.

As you cut the last physical connection you realise what lies ahead. A relationship that for the next 50 years that will depend entirely on words and emotions. That made its foundation in those first few days in your belly in physicality but is moving out of that realm. Senses will alert to Mama’s smell of Pond’s powder even 30 years later even though Mama will not be nursing. The books say a baby needs to be held and nursed during the early days so that it can see and begin to recognise the mother’s features. I cling to that scant comfort and hope that six years of physically holding him, cuddling him, wiping his mouth, cleaning his nose and rocking him to sleep have left their mark. That he has got as much love and security from my physical presence as possible.

Yes, I still feed him on days that the fish needs to be de-boned. I still help him blow his nose. I still barge into the toilet, poke my head through the shower curtain and remind him to wash behind his ears. I still get into bed and pull a child on to each arm and sing them to sleep, awkwardly flapping my hands around them in an attempt to pat and hug. But these are all good-to-do. Not have-to-dos. And with the Brat being the elder one, I go through heart burn with each milestone, each step taken.

And so dear friends, comes to an end the entire potty training episode for child number one. He’s been entirely self -washed butt for some months now and I figured it was a milestone I shouldn’t forget to journal. Never mind if he kills me for this post someday.


85 thoughts on “Shit happens – and gets cleaned up

  1. Lovely post and can the emotions underlying. Very well said. The way to their independence really hurts somewhere in the corner. But they will learn it anyway.

  2. U write so beautifully.. 🙂
    I am yet to acheive this last milestone 😦 he is a year older than brat and just will not wash his butt. The few times we insisted, were firm, gentle everything he only ended up puking after the more cleanup for me Sigh!!!
    I hope someday he will do how he started brushing his own teeth, having a bath and i never even realized how and when it happened.

    3 Cheers to Brat!! he is officially a big boy now 😉 😉

    • Don’t worry about it. I know its easy to say. But honestly, there are 4 year old kids washing their own butts so the Brat isn’t an early bum-washer! And if the OA hadn’t intervened I would have kept at it. I think there comes a time when they begin to get shy and don’t want to be seen without their pants.

  3. Being the son that he is, he is more likely to read out the post to his kids and say… “See? That’s how I got to it and now you’ve got to follow!”

  4. Hi, spoken like a true mom, teaching yet feeling sad that their baby is growing old, and I found the part he is disgusted by cleaning his own bum really funny because I said the exact same thing to my mom, she washed my bum till I was 5, then I came to India and got coerced into doing it by myself coz all my other cousins were doing it. Peer pressure is always a good way of teaching your child.
    All bums are clean now, you must be happy

  5. Who’d have thought a post about washing crap off the butt could be so emotional 😀
    And from what little I know/have seen, I think he’s going to keeelll youuuuu for this, someday hahahaha..

    This was lovely, though 🙂 so heartwarming!

  6. Hehe…I still remember calling out to Maa every morning before school 🙂 Lovely days !!! 😀 And yes, I hate toilet paper. Yucky stuff!

  7. You write so beautifully! Funny and yet so touching 🙂
    Loved this “As you cut the last physical connection you realise what lies ahead. A relationship that for the next 50 years that will depend entirely on words and emotions. ”
    Love the way you write!

  8. hey lovely post. Am soon to be a mommy ( am completing my 8th month next week); looking forward for the DDay…enjoyed your post. will be adding you in my list…

  9. Both mine complained loud & long too!Of the horror of having smelly hands.We got round that with a handshower installed which they would aim at the spot & reluctantly give one last handwash to make sure it was all cleaned up.
    Each milestone achieved is such a moment of pride & yet hurts so much ,doesn’t it?Once in a while, when she’s too tired or sleepy, my daughter will still ask me to feed her dinner& it brings back the old days .But those occasions are getting rarer & I’m left wondering how did they grow up so fast ?:)

      • It helped with the initial phobia & eased them into washing by hand too.They have steadfastly refused to go to the loo at school ,except to pee.Luckily they had half day school & there have been no incidents so far.

        • Same here. I am paranoid about potty so I make them drink a cup of milk at night, soak some raisins in water incase they haven’t gone for the day and do all sorts to ensure that they do it at home and nowhere else.

  10. And this is the reason I keep checking on your blog everyday…because you make a crappy situation feel so heart-wrenching !!
    Full paisa vasool 🙂
    BTW, your post reminds me that I have miles to go before my kids forego the diapers 😦

  11. i am holding on to the last physical moments as well, MM. My first born is I think a year older than Brat. I am already far removed from him in this matter. Now all my energy is focused on my girl and am having a hard time letting go.
    and you are right, first born milestones are way harder to deal and accept.
    our babies growing up too quickly…snif, snif!

  12. Seriously MM – you should send this to one of the magazines. Every one should read it. Because every one goes through this phase – the moms at least. Although I did not even pause to think about it – because I felt like I had no choice but to let him do it on his own once he started KG but then if I stopped to think about it then I would worry that it won’t be a job well done – I just had to bear with that in between phase.
    I feel it more when I lift up KB and feel like it gets harder and he feels good when I tell him I can’t hold him up for too long…but I feel sad that I cannot carry him like a baby anymore. Both of us just love carrying KG because of it!

  13. aww….you got me sniffling – and about shit, no less! ALL kids seem to say the samething huh – mine recoiled in horror as well, the first time they were informed of the true purpose of the left hand 🙂 N is true Amrikan – hates water anywhere in the loo and will happily use half a roll of TP to get himself clean (but will shower for 30 minutes if allowed!) , K had an early tendency to UTIs and we were asked to wash her clean after each poop (side story – her American ped was very apologetic about asking this of us, and even had an handout ready to show how much better washing was for preventing UTIs in baby girls, and how to go about it, and then realised it was no big deal to us :)) – but she switched to TP once she started school.

    You really nailed it re: the physical aspects of motherhood – I hold fast to my last one – weekly oil baths are still my territory!


  14. When I read the title, I thought it was about symbolic shit. Then patha chala it was about actual shit. How and why do you think so much???!

  15. So 6 yrs is not too bad? I have 3 more years to accomplish this?
    (Pulling up my pants and taking a deep breath!)

    (I get the feeling you are going to cling on to his coat tails at his wedding and say “don’t go” 🙂 )

    • Oh yes… I don’t know who sets the deadline. So wait till 8 or 9 if you want. Eventually they will all feel shy and start doing it themselves I suppose. I was just concerned about school.

  16. Oh, my son is 20 days older than the Brat and I am going through the same phase. I pour water and he washes himself. He was reluctant at first but he is doing it nicely now, but asks me to “check” if he is clean.
    As M said, I am also holding on to the oil baths yet. The younger one (my daughter) complies readily. We got her mundan done in April and I have told her that her hair will not grow back if she does not get regular oil bath… am I not evil? 😀 However, I have to drag my son from whichever corner he is hiding in, before I apply oil on the flailing arms and jumping feet – you get the picture.
    Thanks for this post, MM!

    • Yes, I still check. Excuse the pun, but I am rather anal about hygiene 😉
      I am a big one for making up stories like ‘don’t pull faces at each other – the bad wind will blow and your face will stay that way’ etc. I think our parents had it right when they came up with such things. It got things done easily and painlessly and we’re none the worse for it.

  17. I knew Delhi Belly would open the floodgates of all things poop. Damn you Aamir Khan.

    Re: the contents of this post let me be very candid and say “Show Off”. You know the reason why!

  18. 15 yrs on, he would probably want to kill you for the post, if he was anyone else.
    But this being Brat, he’d probably understand and come give u a hug.

  19. Such a beautifully written and sensitive post! it is brimming with emotions! 🙂
    I will echo what some others have already said – who’d have thought writing about shit can be so emotive and interesting. 🙂 I guess, only the Mad Momma can achieve that feat. 😀
    Loved this post. Yay to the milestone!

  20. The physical dependence will disappear, albeit in decades for boys specially! But like you say, words and emotions, feelings and trust, love of the unconditional kind..these will form a bond so much more fulfilling than the physical one. And also- your children may nor need you when they scrape their knees..but will, all their lives, when they scrape their hearts…
    I love the way you write from your heart, love the rishta you all share, of which I can make out that you are the essential core.. and I love the person you are..and I would love to meet you someday:-)

  21. “Washing two butts other than my own every morning really poses no problem and so I didn’t think much of it. Well, no real problem compared to the nights when he was a newborn, I was lying with my aching stomach stitched up, waking every 2 hours to feed him, every 25 minutes to change his cloth nappy and the cloth beneath it and every 1 hour to walk him back to sleep.” Dude! That is my life right now 🙂
    Sigh I am going to cry of joy when my little boy is toilet trained 😀 Evil mamma!

  22. I was reading this post and getting all teary eyed for you and knowing myself knew I’d go through the same time… when my little fellow, just at that moment yelled out “Mamma, potty!”. I’ve just finished washing his bum with pleasure! 🙂

    Cheers for the brat.. love him.

  23. My little girl is outgrowing her newborn stuff….it is killing me. There are so many things that I ll never get to do/experience again and the list is getting longer each day. I want to live in denial.

  24. So many food bloggers focus only on the input part of food and eating. Good to know there’s someone out there who focuses on output too.

  25. Ha Ha.. like everyone above has already said, only you could have written such an emotional blog post about shit 🙂 Good read, and nope.. the brat won’t be angry… he’ll love you more because of this blog post and you know it 🙂

  26. Gonna say the same thing others have said. Only YOU could write a post about shit and make us all go awwwwwwwwwww!

    PS: I have a lot of crap to look forward to! Sigh!

  27. Ha ha…you write so well MM. It is really a nice feeling to have your little one depend you. From the past 2 weeks my son insists on carrying him when I feed him and only yesterday, I was complaining to my m-i-l how much my back hurts. Then I realised that soon I would be the one clinging to him and decided to enjoy this phase as long as it lasts. Yay…on the milestone. You really have to pray hard that he doesnt kill you for this post. Good luck 🙂

  28. ha ha ha. Milestones met make me all senti. Yohaan is 2.5 and got fully potty trained 2 months ago. But ofcourse I need to do all the washing. Th cutest thing is that he insists on washing himself after I have done it for him, so its currently a rather long drawn procedure. Then he bends down to check out his bum everytime we have been for the great wash.

  29. It’s funny how we wait for them to grow up yet not want them to grow up 🙂 My 4 year old is too self reliant. He took over doing things for himself even before I aksed him to (like bathing himself, drying himself up after the bath etc.) Now, he sneakily tries to clean his own bum every morning and I have to yell at him to let me do it. I am not sure he can clean it properly yet. What is the right age for it, BTW? And yeah, I have wondered too, as to how he can hold the hand shower with one and clean his bum with the other.

    • I have no idea what the age is. I’ve seen kids who are in night diapers till age 6. So I honestly have no idea. But maybe the fact that he wants to do it is a good enough sign?

  30. This is one of those posts where I don’t know what to say. I did however cringe at those initial few lines but when I related it to how it would be when I have a baby, I felt just fine.
    I don’t know how many times I’ve said that you make me want to have babies. You evil evil woman!
    Yay to the Brat! A big boy now huh? Why am I a little sad at that?

  31. MM, you and only you can write a whole post about err.. poopoo and still get this kind of readership.. great job!
    oh and btw, are my kids the only ones who time their thing with my meal times? The bum washing thing right in the middle of a meal is almost a daily occurence here.. I often wash my hands with soap twice before I get back to my meal :).. but yeah, nothing’s too icky after u become a mom 🙂

  32. “A relationship that for the next 50 years that will depend entirely on words and emotions. ”
    I’m a long way from being a mommy, but I loved that line.. 🙂 You should send this to a magazine or something!
    I just started a blog myself – would love it if you read it! –

  33. So in my RSS Feed Reader, the comment section shows up as
    – Comment on Shit happens – and gets cleaned up By Revati
    – Comment on Shit happens – and gets cleaned up By The Mad Momma
    – Comment on Shit happens – and gets cleaned up By Mors
    – Comment on Shit happens – and gets cleaned up By harshika
    – Comment on Shit happens – and gets cleaned up By Preethi

  34. This post could not have been better timed. As a first time mom of a 7 week old, I spend a lot, a lot of time obsessing over the poops, how many times has he pooped, what does it look like etc etc. Can’t imagine the time when he will clean his own butt, at the moment I am thrilled to be cleaning his bum! As I sit here today cuddling, feeding, cleaning my baby was touched by the lines: “A relationship that for the next 50 years that will depend entirely on words and emotions”.

  35. Your writing is simple, uncluttered and so effective in conveying the emotions behind each word! This post made me emotional beyond belief which I never thought was possible with anything related to potty training and considering the fact that I am not a mother yet.
    I think what you read is right..they will remember your touch, taste of your food, your hug, your hand on their head, your stories and songs you sing to them, and so many other things that are part of you….just like we all do with our moms!

  36. That was a beautiful post on motherhood…thank u for awakening all those wonderful feelings and reminding me to look forward to having a child and well, potty training!

  37. My daughter was /is a gem.I taught her to sit on the potty seat at one.She started washing herself at three.I know only too well that God balances out everything and the younger one is going to take me for a ride for a long time.Beautifully written post.just loved your thoughts on a topic that we dont normally record in a baby book but that is a milestone.

    • J is a gem in more ways than one 🙂 I am amazed – I am nowhere near teaching the Bean yet. I keep worrying that she won’t get it right – specially because she is a girl and might get herself a UTI. Or maybe I am just not willing to let go. sigh.

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