Raising Little Girls…Sort Of

This  post is part of my Recycled Series. Before you read any further the next few paragraphs are chock full of euphemisms for gas. If you consider bodily emissions taboo and/or your maturity level surpasses that of a 6-year-old’s, then you may want to stop reading.

Attention Editors: These columns have been previously published, but are available for reprint. Please contact me at kmwicker[at]gmail[dot]com for reprint fees and further information.

My girls are glad to wear dresses (although 4-year-old Madeline often prefers t-shirts and jeans).  They say “please” and “thank you” (or in Rae’s case “peas” and “tank cue.”). They love tea parties and think fairies are magical. They’d spend all day in the kitchen baking if I’d let them and most of the time, they don’t mind having bows in their hair.

But there’s one area where my little women lose a few points in femininity. My girls think beanies are hilarious. Potty humor never fails to get a laugh and when either one of my girls pass gas, they start to giggle before saying excuse me. Now that we have a gassy infant (another girl who’s sure to think stinky butts are the height of hilarity in no time) in the house, unashamed glee ensues every time the little one rips one. Honestly, how does such a sweet, small thing create such loud and noxious gas? (My husband says she’s just one big GI tract – she takes my milk in and then pushes it out either via spit up, poop, pee, or yes, smelly gas.)

I wish I could blame my girls’ love for all things stinky on their dad, but he honestly thinks his girls’ pooting is pretty gross.

Case in point: Recently, I asked him all seriousness to name three things that I did that make him feel uncomfortable and/or irritated (the purpose of this little exercise inspired by the book The Love Dare Raising Little Girls...Sort Of was to create an increased sense of unity in our marriage). His only response: “Your noxious gas.”

Now please be easy on me, okay?  This conversation occurred when I was pregnant and had all these crazy hormones surfing through me and yes, I did experience some pregnancy-induced flatulence. I’m sorry for the TMI moment, but it’s something that’s just natural, right?  Besides, I have to look on the bright side. What my dearly beloved was really saying is that we’d have a perfect marriage if weren’t for the fact that I produce more methane than a field full of gassy cows when I’m pregnant.

Honestly, I thought everyone thought beanies were hilarious. Maybe it’s because I grew up with brothers, but I didn’t realize quite how juvenile I was being until I started encountering people who thought passing gas was something you did alone shut away in a closet, and you certainly didn’t talk, or for goodness’ sake publish an essay about your bodily functions.

Once, when I was in the seventh grade, I made the mistake of saying the word “fart” in front of my friend’s Old South parents.

They let my faux pas slide. I was a clueless Yankee, after all, but my friend told me to never, ever use that word again. Apparently, if you had to refer to gas, you called it a “poot.”  Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

Even in my current homeschooling co-op I’ve learned there are some families who think far…I mean poots…are funny and just fine to discuss among friends. Others, however, would never allow their kids to use “fart”  (the other “F word”) or any other euphemism for gas as a part of their everyday vernacular.

Although I’ve had to give my girls a “tootorial” (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help myself) about how it’s not appropriate to pass gas at the dinner table or around others (some things are best done in private or with close family members) and that we should always say “excuse me” before convulsing into giggles, I’m afraid I’ll never mature completely and will always find beanies to be a bit funny.

And in all likelihood, so will my girls. It’s in their genes (and sometimes their jeans, too, when they’re emitting gas). It comes from my family where one particular uncle whom I’d only see once or twice a year would greet me with “Pull my finger.” (This was the same totally cool uncle who once opened his car’s sunroof so snow would fall down on me as we cruised the streets of Chicago. He never really grew up and neither have I.) Even my sweet 88-year-old nana frequently gives my dad whoopee cushions and the like as gifts.

A friend of mine who knows my family and their maturity level quite well once told me I’d better have some boys, so we could share in our inanity over potty humor.

But here I am with three silly, gas-lovin’ girls.  And while my husband isn’t fully on board in the pooting department and thinks it’s more vulgar than funny, he is thankful our girls are in touch with their feminine side but aren’t afraid to stick their hands in the mud to dig for earthworms or to sometimes trade in their fairy wings for pirate swords.

I’m thankful, too. I’m all for tea parties and ballet recitals, but there’s nothing wrong with an occasional belching contest, hunting for frogs, or slipping into a Super Man costume every once in awhile.

A few weeks back, we visited a friend who has four boys and I looked outside to see my girls wildly running around, wielding light sabers. I thought to myself, “Lukes, I am your mother,” and I was happy that my little ladies aren’t afraid to sometimes run with the boys.

 

 

 

 

 

Momradrie

As I mentioned in this post, I’m going to start sharing some posts, essays, etc. from the archives, which will hopefully mean I have more time to work on my novel. All of these posts will be labeled as “Recycled Series.” Enjoy!

Attention Editors: These columns have been previously published, but are available for reprint. Please contact me at kmwicker[at]gmail[dot]com for reprint fees and further information.


A few years back I was in a cramped public bathroom stall supervising my preschooler’s potty business when I met a new friend.

“Mommy, I have to poop.”

“Now?”

“Now!”

This little tête-à-tête wasn’t between my daughter and me (at the time, she refused to poop in public and often tried to get out of BMs at home, too), but with my bathroom neighbors – a mom with her young son.

I continued to eavesdrop. I couldn’t help it – the boy wasn’t being shy at all about making his “stinky.”

“I did it, Mommy!  I made a big stinky!”

“Great job, Honey!”

Our children’s toilets flushed at the same time, and we nearly bumped into one another as we existed the stalls.

“I’m impressed. I can’t believe how quickly he pooped in a public restroom. I have trouble getting my preschooler to poop at all,” I found myself saying.

“I know. He’s our little pooper. Oh, your baby’s so cute. How old is she?”

“A year.”

“Is she walking yet?”

“Not yet,” I said.

“Don’t worry. He didn’t walk until 16 months, and now he runs and jumps all over the place. Have a good day.”

And we went our separate ways – her with her talented, pooping toddler, me with my not-walking-yet-baby and poop-resistant preschooler.

I didn’t use to talk about poop with complete strangers, but something happens when you become a mom. An easy camaraderie develops between those who have shared combat. And if anyone knows what it means to be in the trenches, it’s another mom.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve struck up a conversation with fellow mothers or reached out to help one of my own kind. Once, I saw a frazzled woman at the grocery store. Her baby was crying and her older child was whining. I could tell she was on the verge of losing it, so I said to her little boy, “I love that dinosaur on your shirt.”

He immediately stopped pining for a candy bar and started telling me all about his favorite animals. His mom smiled and mouthed a heartfelt, “Thank you.”

Other moms have done the same for me. One took my antsy baby from my arms during a First Friday Mass. “So you can actually pay attention,” she whispered. Others have held the door for me when my arms were full and a preschooler was clinging to my pants’ legs.  Veteran moms who know what lies ahead have uttered words of encouragement after noticing I was looking a wee bit weary toting around two kids under 4 for a “quick” errand.

“You’re doing great,” they cheer. Or, “It gets easier.”

Then there are my real friends – not just passing strangers who knowingly nod their heads or smile in support when my child has a meltdown in the produce section. Some were girlfriends long before anyone ever called us Mommy, and it’s amazing how much closer we’ve become since we’ve been passed the holy torch of motherhood.

When one of my kids refuses to nap (day after day) or turns beet-red during a bowel movement, I don’t immediately call my pediatrician, consult my stack of parenting books, or Google “baby + constipation.” Instead, I call one of my mom friends.

Unlike my childless companions, it’s only other moms who can truly offer maternal empathy. They’re the friends who won’t be totally grossed out if I talk about the color of my baby’s poop. They’re the ones who know what it’s like to notice the beautiful curve of a newborn’s ear while she nurses and to want to cry because it’s so perfect. They’re quick to trade tricks of the trade like how to get marker doodles off your bedspread. They still think you’re beautiful even with the white streak of diaper ointment smeared in your hair. They understand the flattening lethargy the daily grind of motherhood can bring, the profundity of giving birth to a child, the way an infant’s cries can rip you apart, and the intense love and joy that goes hand-in-hand with being a mom.

They’re the ones who can say, “I’ve been there,” and really mean it. Because in the end, we’re really just looking for the sense that we’re not alone in this journey.

Like it or not, as mothers we’re plunged into the trenches. And just like soldiers, we need people who’ve got our backs and are going to give us cover. Sometimes during times of peace, we can laugh at our kids’ antics and share our favorite parts of being a mom. But sometimes, let’s face it, motherhood is a war (a battle of wills, a grueling campaign for sleep or pooping on the potty), and we can either be the medic and offer our support to fellow moms or humbly accept help as the wounded soldier.

I’m very fortunate because my personal mom friends are eager to enter the front line to give me a break when I admit that being a mother is tough, really, really tough. But they’re also the ones who remind me that a lot of things are hard in life – like performing brain surgery, living under a socialist regime, and going no-carb. Some things are worth it. Swearing off pasta, if you ask me, isn’t.

But kids and the whole dirty, messy, tiring, endless job we call mothering most certainly is well worth everything – the endless laundry, another hour of sleep you didn’t get, the purple stretch marks, the “I-don’t-want-to-go-to-bed” tantrums, the crushed Cheerios in the car upholstery, the calamitous diaper incidents, the handprint smudges all over the walls and your brand-new white pants,  and the insufferable whining over a silly plastic toy at the dollar store.

Ask most any mom – from the one you’ve just met in the public restroom to your close friends – and they’ll tell you that kids may hijack our sleep, flat abs, and sometimes our sanity, but if we’re not careful, they’ll hijack our hearts, too.

Out of the mouths of my babes (Vol. 1)

6-year-old Rachel as I was attempting to use the bathroom with an entourage in my midst: “I just realized something. Mommy never gets any alone time. I remember when I started school, and it was quiet and no one was talking, and I thought, ‘This is nice.’ I’d never had that before. Mommy, you still haven’t had it.”

Maybe I need to re-enroll in school.

Then she asked me, “Do you every daydream?”

“Yes.”

“I did it once, too.”

Once? You jest, my sweet absent-minded professor. This is the child who lives in La-La Land.

“Please get your coat, Rachel,” I say.

“Okay.”

As we are getting to leave, I notice she doesn’t have her coat on or with her. “Where’s your coat?”

“What coat?”

Aiiieeeeeeeeeee.

Not that Madeline is totally on top of things. Do any of your children always leave drawers, cabinets, closet doors, etc. open? Well, mine does. Every day. Every single time she opens anything. I’ve tried to remind her, but I’m tired of nagging. I am in the acceptance stage. She is a funny, creative, kind child – she doesn’t remember to close things.

Speaking of absentmindedness, we recently read a selection from a library book called Tales for the Telling: Irish Folk & Fairy Stories Out of the mouths of my babes (Vol. 1) about a wise, kind, and white cat who recruits a prince to save a princess-prisoner from having to marry a cruel, oafish giant. Well, the cat kept giving the prince warnings that he shouldn’t eat anything because he would forget his mission. The prince kept accidentally eating (so much for mindful eating) and would, not surprisingly, become distracted and forget about poor Princess Cora. Then the loyal cat returns and reproachfully reprimands and reminds him of the prince’s calling. By the time the prince committed his third mental gaffe, Madeline rolled her eyes and said, “Geez. He’s more forgetful than I am, and that’s saying a lot. Who would want to marry him anyway?”

We were leaving for the morning drop-off, and my good friend passed by. I waved enthusiastically at her. She energetically waved back.

“She’s waving furiously, too,” Madeline observed. “You two are geeks.”

She’s just jealous of my our coolness and overzealous friendship. And as my friend – who just started a new blog! – pointed out, “Overzealous waving is the way to go. Otherwise, you just seem aloof.”

We’ve decided to be even more dramatic in my daughter’s presence. It’s fun to embarrass the emerging tween.

I’ve been trying to keep it quiet in the car during Lent, and so I’ve had the pleasure of overhearing some fun musings coming from the backseat. Both Rachel and Madeline were listing all the things they want to do with their lives. They have very ambitious lists: art, soccer, theatre, horseback riding, vet school, gymnastics, teaching, etc. Mary Elizabeth interrupted, “When I grow up, I want to be a mommy.”

Then Thomas piped in. “When I grow up, I want to be a daddy.”

All their pretend house-playing is good practice.

Later that same day, Mary Elizabeth commented to our babysitter, who had just painted her nails, that it takes a long time for the paint to dry.

Thomas joined the conversation. “It takes a long time to,” he said, “grow up.” I hope so. I don’t want my baby boy growing up too quickly.

And that’s a wrap.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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