{pretty, happy, funny, real}: poop edition

Recently, I have expressed, both privately to myself, and here on the internet, and out loud with my vocal chords to humans in my presence, a desire to make my writing here on The Blog more theological. More reflective. This hasn’t really happened, despite my having more thoughtful writing ideas than I can remember (and don’t remember, because I don’t write them down). Reflective writing is kinda hard, and I’m tired a lot, and I always have too much to do, and a backlog of knitting stuff to talk about… so when I get around to blogging, I talk about the knitting stuff. Nothing wrong with the knitting stuff. It’s fun to share. But anymore, my soul needs to express more than that. My life is about so much more than that, and I want to practice writing and sharing that more in a way that is profitable to others.

Also, recently, I have started reading Preventing Grace and Like Mother Like Daughter: two “mommy blogs” that are not really mommy blogs. Anne (of the first link) is all snark and brutal honesty and theological reflection in the midst of the very real, overwhelming, brutal chaos of life, and I love her. She is one of those writers that gives me permission to be myself. Leila and her daughters post pretty things, but mostly of the sort that Actually Matter, and they focus on beauty is for its own sake, to bring the reality of the God of Truth and Goodness and Beauty into actual life in all its messiness, rather than some sort of accomplishment that helps us pretend we have it together. I am inspired by the lives they are building for their families, and shamelessly envy their bond.

Anyway, they both do this {pretty, funny, happy, real} thing. It’s really cute, pretty simple, and fetchingly marked by curly brackets. I know the only way I’m going to get in the habit of practicing deeper writing is if I discipline myself to do it. So I’m stealing the idea (who knows whence it originated) to try here. We’ll see if I can do one a week. Should be easy if I can keep myself from talking too much. (Already too late.)

{pretty}

I possess the vague intention to make our home a more beautiful place, but I have a whole lot of trouble overcoming my native pragmatism. I want pretty things to look at, but if you want me to personally bother with them, they had better be useful. This is nowhere better expressed than on our sofa table. Rather than stowing them away in the basement where I’ll forget about them, I’ve been collecting CSA squash for display by the big picture window. Being right by the front door, the sofa table also collects all sorts of things it shouldn’t and is a cluttered mess most of the time. But there with a few books, and some surprisingly healthy herbs, the cheerful butternut, stripy spaghetti squash, pie pumpkin, and red kuri make me smile. Both for the promise of good food to come, and for their own created beauty, that reminds me they are a good in the world even if I never eat them.

{happy}

So the reason the basil and oregano are doing so well in my house is not because I have been watering them every day (I haven’t), but because my house is unusually warm. And the reason my house is unusually warm is because N’s been running around with no pants on. And the reason she’s been running around with no pants on is that we’ve been potty training.

Actually she’s been back in pants for a week, and the house isn’t quite as warm as it was, but you get the idea. The “happy” is that, after about a week, something really clicked, and she’s been doing really well. We’ve averaged maybe 1 accident every other day during the last week, she’s initiating more and more, and we’re going on longer successful outings. It’ll still be a long time before she is fully potty independent and this new skill is fully integrated into our family’s life. But the worst is over, she’s turned the corner, and I’m really really proud of her. It was a bit of a learning curve, and there were tears, but it was not traumatic, and she was ready.

Yes, she is twenty months old. Yes, that’s a lot younger than the national average. No, I am not judging anyone who waits longer to potty train their kids. We thought Nomes was ready (or “capable” if you prefer), and we made the decision we felt was best for our family. No, I don’t really want to have a discussion on the subject. If you want to know what I think, just go read Jamie Glowacki‘s book. She’s rather sweary, but hilarious, and I completely resonate with her instincts about parenting, especially the work of attending to children’s capabilities and unique learning styles. She knows what she’s about.

{funny}

Funny? Potty training is funny. Apparently I never graduated from middle school, because I think poop is hilarious. And you know {poop} just got real when you smell poop and you don’t know if it’s on you or your toddler.

Proof N is wearing clothes again. In an outfit she picked herself, no less. (We’ll just pretend this picture wasn’t taken while I was sitting on the toilet.)

 

{real}

Now that I’ve told you how great we’re doing and how funny it was, let me tell you that this was the hardest parenting thing I’ve done since N was a newborn. (She was a really hard newborn, if you’ve forgotten.) We did our best to make it fun, but it was exhausting. During the whole first six days of the process, until the big turnaround day, I was riddled with doubt and second-guessing, hoping I wasn’t putting us through this tough learning period for nothing. Somehow, at the end of every day, we could point so some concrete evidence that her learning was progressing, and that’s what kept me going. But every day, I was made to face my anxieties, not so much about success, but about dealing with the discouraging words of others (mostly unintentional). And most of all, about boredom.

I am not good with boredom. I am not good at attending to just one thing at once. Why do you think I taught myself to knit and read? I fear the void of understimulation, and I will do all sorts of dumb and counterproductive things to avoid the void. (For the Enneagram-savvy, welcome to the world of the 7.) When I got real, I realized that I wanted potty training to go well quickly, not so I could brag that I have a potty-trained 20-month-old, but just so I could stop doing it and start doing something else.

The hardest thing for me is to bring myself into the present when the present is quiet. When the present is just watching my child. Just playing with blocks. Just staying at home. Just napping, when that’s what I so desperately need. It’s just as true in my relationship with God: bringing myself into the present, both to myself and with Him, so that I can Really Listen. Stop moving. Just listen. Just sit. Just read the Bible. Just think. It goes completely against my nature, like nails on my soul’s chalkboard, until I just do it, and am reminded how lifegiving it is. I don’t have to be always moving and hearing and planning and making and enjoying and talking and doing. I have to just be. I have to. It is both my kryptonite, and the antidote to my flesh. I suspect this is something that will always be true of me.

Weird that I got a major new boot camp in this existential awareness… by teaching my child where to put her poop and pee. I am no longer surprised when the pragmatics of parenting make me grow up a little more.

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