Embracing the now even when you’d rather not

I’ve always thought of “living in the moment” in terms of savoring life and all its vivid but easily overlooked beauty. The weight of “now” needed to be measured and felt when a new baby who would soon transform into a lanky, little girl was in my arms. Being fully present during the happy or just everyday moments was important because it made me more grateful and forced me to not be so distracted that I missed out on all of the little things. And life is really just a hodgepodge compilation of little things. Little moments that when strung together make a life of consequence.

Yes, I have enjoyed being fully present while I read a treasured storybook aloud to my children or when Thomas stops nursing just to look up at me and beam, his bright, brown eyes shining. It’s good to sink into the now of those sepia-toned moments.

But what about when you walk into a bedroom and discover that your baby boy dug in to a dirty diaper and decided to use his poop as finger paint? Do you really want to savor that moment, especially when your dear, dear babysitter who really deserves a raise, says, “Well, now we know he eats everything,” because your innocent, little boy had his poop-encrusted fingers in his mouth?

There are some stories I’d really rather not be a part of.

I had a rough day. Today I really earned the title I jokingly give myself as an expert in hazardous waste removal.

Later in the afternoon after the home no longer reeked of sewage I asked my 3-year-old to please use the potty before climbing into my bed for some quiet time. I was busy tidying up the kitchen when I heard her calling for me in a high-pitched voice. “Mommmmmeeeeeeee.” Never a good sign.

As soon as I approached the bathroom, I smelled poop. More stinkin’ poop. Be still my weary, grossed out heart.

“Sowry,” she said, “but I pooped on the floor.” She neglected to mention that she pooped on the floor and then tried to clean up after herself, which resulted in several stained towels and a trail of poopy footprints on the bathroom floor.

And I kid you not when I sat down to write this post earlier today, she came up to me and said, “Sowry, but I pooped in my panties.” Then when I finally was squeezing in a much-needed shower just before dinner, my oldest ran in and announced that the 3-year-old had pooped in her panties again. Although she has had plenty of pee-pee accidents as my most recalcitrant potty trainer, the sweet girl has never pooped in her panties. She made up for lost time today.

How much stink can a mama take? (This is authenticity – the real, raw, and sometimes fetid version of motherhood.)

I was on the verge of crumbling and was having trouble holding it together. I was so tired and stressed about other things that had nothing to do with poop and were completely out of my control. Not that my kids’ bowel movements and where they end up were completely in my control either. My mind was reeling. Would there be more poop? Please no. But then it hit me. I wasn’t living in the moment. I wasn’t accepting the now. I was dwelling on what ifs and what would happen if and when, and it struck me that while it might seem counterintuitive to want to be fully present and focused on a crappy day like this, doing so actually will help me get through – or in the very least accept – the miasma of discouragement.

In Fr. Jacques Philippe’s Interior Freedom, he writes, “What really hurts is not so much suffering itself as the fear of suffering.”

The fear of thinking there will be more poop, less sleep, more heartache, more suffering can break a person. I think of my mom, whose chronic pain burns quite literally at an intensity I’m not sure I could endure. How can she go on like this? We don’t know. We can’t look ahead. She’s had to learn to accept her pain – just as we ought to welcome and savor our joys – one day at a time. She cannot fear what lies ahead. I can’t either.

I’ll take poop over chronic pain, and it will be easier to endure any of the less-than-ideal moments of life if I remain in the now. The moment will pass. There may be another calamitous diaper incident. There may be no relief to my sweet mama’s pain tomorrow. Or things will get better. Either way, I’ll survive. I’ll make it through. So will my mom. It doesn’t matter what happens tomorrow or even an hour from now. It’s what I do with what hand is dealt to me this very second.

Today was gross. Tomorrow when my mom undergoes more surgery will be hard for her and for all those who love her. Instead of wishing away the moments or fearing the future, we have to accept life as it is. We can’t dream of a cleaner, brighter, less stinky, less painful life. We have to accept the now, live in it, learn from it. Life is what it is, and it can be good and beautiful even in the midst of suffering if only we let it be.

Enter the Conversation...

9 Responses to “Embracing the now even when you’d rather not”
  1. Blair says:

    Praying for your mom, Kate. What a poopy day! When I have days like that I definitely start to daydream of a future without poopy diapers, a house that looks like a toy store exploded, or a driveway littered with beach gear and other goodies! But I’m quite positive that I’ll be longing for each of those things when I don’t have them. Still…it’s HARD! Hoping for a “cleaner” day for you tomorrow :)

  2. What. A. DAY! Holy Moly, you earned your tagline. A what a perspective!! This was a needed post for me.

    Praying for your mom tomorrow. What a day. Praying for another miracle, because she is one.

    Stay strong!!!!

  3. Jess says:

    Katie, I’ll be thinking of you and your precious mom tomorrow for sure.

  4. Kate Wicker says:

    Thank you for the prayers. I honestly did not intend to blog about this or blog at all but after a day like yesterday and the subterranean stress of worrying about my parents, I guess I needed the catharsis. :-)

    We moms need to stick together and remind one another that we have the strength (and the arsenal of cleaning products) to endure.

    Have a good day!

  5. Melanie B says:


    Oh my! What a day! That is truly epic.

    What you say about it being the fear of the future that is so hard to bear is so true. For me right now it’s especially the fear of loss of sleep. One boy is having chronic nightmares and when we try to calm him by telling him the saints will be with him, he just insists that St Michael is falling asleep on the job. He doesn’t want to be comforted. The other boy left his favorite blankie at a relative’s house and wakes up mad and screaming without it.

    Anyway, I need to be reminded to live in the present and not let the worry overwhelm me. I’ll be thinking of your epic poop day next time I’m tempted to blow it over another screaming sleepless night.

    I’ll be praying for your mother.

  6. Kris says:

    Kate – prayers for your Mom today, and everyone who loves her. I had to laugh at your VERY appropriate description of your “crappy” day. Been there. Console yourself with the fact that she won’t go off to kindergarten (if you send her!) still pooping in her underwear…..!

  7. I didn’t realize you were blogging again sometimes-I’m so glad Hobo Mama linked to this post so now I know you are posting again at least occasionally!!
    I’ll keep you and your mom in your prayers

    We are having trouble with potty-training (as in, the 3 year old never ever makes it in the toilet. he tries to hold it until he gets his bedtime Pull-Up even if that means crying about his tummy hurting all evening. We stopped trying after a couple of days since it was obviously not working, and are back in Pull-Ups all day again)and I’ve scrubbed poop out of pretty much every pair of training pants he has (the fabric ones that are basically just thick undies). Thanks goodness for coconut castille soap-it seems to get the poop out better than anything else we’ve tried so far!

  8. Abbey says:

    This is spot on. I often wish there were fewer of those crappy moments, but you’re right – being present is as important in those yucky times as in the good ones. I’ve been trying to work on that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Fr. Jacques Phillipe is the very BEST spiritual writer I have ever encountered. I’ve read Interior Freedom and Searching for and Maintaining Peace over and over again…what he says is always relevant and encouraging.

    I only have one child, but I know what you mean. I constantly battle the temptation to despair over the never ending string of sleepless nights, colic and teething that could be the future.

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