When I think about the girl who loves to curl up with a cup of tea and a classic British novel, or enjoys dawdling in the Renaissance halls of an art museum, or relaxes with a soak in the tub and her favorite Thomas Tallis CD – I’m shocked, horrified and mortified to find myself writing a post entitled “Joy in the Poop.” But, my friends, life does strange things to us. Sometimes, we celebrate poop.
Not long ago, my sweet, precious, tiny little man had a terrifically poopy diaper. Poop in the diaper. Poop out of the diaper. Poop on the changing table. Poop in the jammies. Poop on the mommy. It was a glorious poop explosion. One of those poops where you just look at your tiny little child (grinning, cooing and kicking his feet in the poop) and you wonder how on earth such a tiny little thing made so much poop.
It’s a moment every mom has had, probably more than once. A moment that can be the tipping point. The straw that breaks the camel’s back. The very circumstance that makes a tired mom want to hand her poopy child to anyone who will take him, and climb in bed and pull the covers over her head.
There was a time I could have been that mom. Instead, I laugh. I really do.
You see, I remember a day in the not so distant past when I sent a text message to my friend Rachel. Rachel was updating William’s Caringbridge page and she was our main contact with the outside world. In the early days of William’s life, he didn’t have problems creating dirty diapers. But then that changed. I remember texting Rachel and telling her we were praying for a poopy diaper. And I joked about never thinking I would be asking God for poop. And I remember the day the poopy diapers stopped – and there were no more.
So when Alexander fills his diaper, I laugh. And I joyfully grab the wipes and clean up the mess. Because as unamusing as poopy diapers can be, as much of a pain it can be to strip down a poopy child and put him in his fifth outfit of the day, and as much as one may be ready for the days of a potty trained child – all of this is far better than a child who can’t poop.
At Thanksgiving, when it was my turn to share what I was most thankful for, I stated I was thankful for the three “boys” in my life – my husband, and my two sons. I was thankful for them, not because of the joy they bring me or because they love me (although I am thankful for those things, too). I am thankful for them because of the way God has and is and will use them to shape my spiritual walk. Each of my boys has had a different impact on my walk with Jesus – an impact that is far to complex and multifaceted to explain in one post – or a hundred posts. This joy in the poop, it’s a gift from William, not only to me but to my whole family.
Joy in the poop becomes a metaphor for life. Life is never what we want it to be – is it? It can be wonderful, amazing, delightful, and still not be what we want. It can be fulfilling and marvelous, and still have truly poopy times. I usually want to complain in these poopy times. I’m ashamed to admit I usually do complain, expressing my disappointment with the poop. I want to crawl in bed and cover my head with the blankets and hope that the poopy times will go away.
But what if the poop was gone? What if I didn’t have a messy house – because I had no house at all. What if I didn’t have to eat leftovers (again) – because I had no food in my kitchen. What if I didn’t have to bundle up and go to work every day – because I had no job. What if I didn’t have a bad hair day – because I had lost my hair. What if my husband never irritated me – because he was not there. These things are poopy – but the alternatives could be much worse. So I’m learning to thank God, even for the poopy things.
I don’t say these things to discount the trials of the poopy times. Poopy diapers are not my favorite part of motherhood. When you’ve learned, however, that the absence of poopy things could be far worse than the presence of poopy things, it makes it easier to be joyful when life isn’t what you want it to be.
What is God teaching you about the poopy things in life?