This piece was written in March of 2014 when my daughter was barely 6 months old. I put it aside with the hopes that it would get picked up by The Washington Post or the NY times and it did, but they wanted me to call poop caca and that just wouldn’t be right. So, I had to make a difficult decision and turn down the offer to have them publish it on the front page and am letting you read it on my blog (a much larger platform, of course) instead. Enjoy!
Okay, so I’m officially that mom. I really never thought I would be. But something big went down….something worthy of movie credits and a Morgan-Freeman voiceover. I realized how possessive I am. Yea, I’ll admit it. I never thought I would be so protective about having a baby. Her face, her name, her poop. Yup, that’s right. Her smelly poop. Sometimes with gross corn bits wedged in there. So, like most good things in life, it’s a process. In the beginning I loved it then I hated it right when she started eating solids because well, it’s poop. And yet, it was MY poop. A part of her that I felt responsible for and attached to.
Let me back up to give you the full context of the story and describe my marriage a little bit. Yes, we are of Arab descent, but we’ve both grown up and lived all over. I’m Lebanese Palestinian he’s Syrian but born and raised in the States and we met in Riyadh Saudi Arabia in second grade where he thought I was “nice.” We later re-met in NYC after I lived in London and after letters asking about each other’s tans and who we were “liking” this month. He asked me out in a Monica-Chandler type of way and I had nothing to say but yes. We now live in Dubai, which is “a bubble” with a bit too much sandlewood perfume and not enough mountains, where I worry sometimes we are becoming a little vanilla.
Nice mixture you say? Ummm yes, and no. Sure it means that we have friends from almost every country in the world and can tell you the best coffee place in most cities, but what it also means is that we’re caught in the middle between western and Arab. It is because of that that my husband has a profound resistance to diaper changes, milk feedings and well, any of the icky stuff to do with our baby. He really would only want to take the sweet bits if he could. But wouldn’t they all?
So, back to the poop discussion…I rarely leave my husband alone with my daughter for fear of SSP. SSP is what, according to Sod’s law always happens at the worst possible moments in the day. SSP stands for Stinky Smelly Poop…a very technical term, yes. But on the day I’m sharing with you, I had agreed with hubby that I would join a casual coffee we had planned with friends, a little late – no more than 15 minutes… and left our daughter with him. I was literally in the middle of my permitted 15 minutes (which he claims was 45…and men say that women exaggerate?) when I got a frantic phone call, “SHE DID IT! SHE POOPED! WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU ALMOST HERE?” I would have chuckled at the absurdity that he couldn’t be left alone for even 20 minutes without calling me in panic mode…except poop was now on the table. No, not literally, but an SSP had happened and as I was about to learn, I am obsessive about my baby’s poop. So this was spiraling outta control.
I rushed out of the store I was in and cabbed the 500 meters’ distance he was from me, which probably took longer than it would have taken if I had walked, but, in the moment, I panicked (mostly because he panicked) and rushed and was obviously not thinking straight. When I finally got there, out of breath, she was nowhere to be seen. He assured me (and yea, I’m dripping with irony with that word) that a mutual friend of ours was in the bathroom with my baby. Ummm, what? He outsourced it? Logically, yes, I should have been thankful and (according to her husband), “thanking them non-stop for not keeping my daughter in her poop” but that’s not what happened. I was furious. Why couldn’t her dad who was physically there, stop drinking his damn Americano for a second to either hold her and keep the poop fumes from drifting over to everyone, or change her himself? Had we gotten so used to outsourcing all of these icky bits? Was I that expat woman who barely knew my kids’ birthdays let alone their names? Or was I just completely co-dependent with every liquid, stench and stain coming out of my daughter?
This is awkward, but it’s the latter. I am poop obsessed. Cue a whole scene and some nonverbal tension later (the worst kind, if you ask me), which was topped off with a uncontrollable show of irrational emotions from my side. I decided to isolate the “takeaways” from this.
Several, albeit forced, thank-yous later, and a few minutes to think rationally about what had just gone down, I came to the same conclusion I started with. It is a conclusion that only moms will understand and agree with. Take a moment now because this will hit you hard. Moms have an official carte blanche and can do or say anything they want when it comes to their kids. So if I want to be the only one to change her poop then so be it, that’s what’s going to happen. I mean, I wasn’t cut open to let someone else enjoy the SSP without some clearance from me. That’s just the way it goes. Corn bits and all. No matter what postal code.