Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (5 Things I’ve learned through 7 years of Poop)

 

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Last week was one of those. A week that sapped us of sleep, and strength. Of two cars with issues that drained the bank  just like they did last month.  Of many things broken in this house.

My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.

My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.

My favorite cofffee mug, used 50x a day.

My mug, this week.  Followed by my favorite tea cup and my grandmother’s porcelain ash tray. All in a week.

I sighed, I felt disappointment… deeply struggled with the inner beast… but no children were broken and that is something, if you consider how close I was to edge of my walk in grace.  That fine line where the sidewalk ends in this walk with my Guide. Sometimes, he’s just gonna have to carry me, because I can’t take a step.

 

I teetered on the edge for a minute there, but I took a deep breath. I’ve been here before more times than I could ever recall enough detail to relate to you. It’s that often.   I can scream with the best of them. I can stomp and slam doors and rage to high heaven.  I have, and sometimes I do, but I’m finding that it’s not as often anymore and that this grace that is said to be sufficient… it actually is if you let it be.  I wonder how I got to the place where suddenly I’m choosing grace over rage more often than not. Especially when current circumstances would predict otherwise, based on past experiences and outbursts from my inner godzilla.
I suppose it could be a phase. It could be my constant expose to the need for it, and the scarred knees from falling over and getting back up, over, and over, and over, and…
I think, like many of my other blog posts will tell you, God likes to teach me how not to lose my **IT** by giving me many opportunities.  Hundreds of them. Could it be that I’m finally getting the message?
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Here are a few things I’ve learned in my  battle between choosing a saving of  Grace or a losing of **IT**.

 

1. WHEN I RAGE AGAINST THE GRACE. The rage does not heal and it does not put back together my pieces of broken things…the mug I love and the heirloom that I never used anyway. It was beautiful and special, but what need to I REALLY have for my grandmother’s ash tray?  No, crossing the line won’t bring the things back. Any of the things. It simply breaks and bends more things around me, and the next in line tends to be my children.

2.  BE PREPARED, IT WILL KEEP HAPPENING. I, alone, choose my focus, to be aware of where I am and who I am to them.  To accept the truth that it is not a question of IF I will ever be on the edge of losing it again, but WHEN.  We have to stop  crossing our fingers and hoping for days where we are not tested. Let’s simply agree to accept as fact that we will be. We should even PREDICT that today we will be, and the real question is which way we will step. After it all, I know what happens when I cross over from this field of grace to  the release of anger. The grass is not greener on the other side.  Sure, there is some bizarre feeling of release in that short moment of Losing **IT** that I can try to convince myself  feels “good” to let go of.  It’s not good. It creates a wasteland in tiny hearts around me.  Angry, selfish parenting…making our children’s mistakes and struggles about US and our day is self-centered and excludes their needs. This is THEIR day, too. I do not own it.

3.  I CAN’T CHOOSE THEIR OUTCOME.  My kids are individuals, who also choose their own opinion and response to my behavior.  I can not guarantee that they will not reach adulthood feeling cracked  and warped from being in our care.  I do not choose to parent with Grace in hopes of creating perfectly behaved little people and adults that will give me a great reputation. I do it to give them an example of giving in, of choosing grace even when you don’t want to.  Their perception of their childhood is their own and I can’t control how they process our moments together, the good or the bad.  Many a child has felt wounds from parents who struggled to be their best but all are human and all fail.   I can’t choose their reaction to us. That is theirs. I just want to be by their side in their life, which is where God has put me.  Just what I asked for!!!  And how I treat them will dictate how these children will trust me and want me beside them in the future, when it become THIER choice to call me…or not.  Their future decisions about me start with how I care for them now.  Their future decisions on when to run to grace and when to lose their own **IT** will conjure up memories of a mom. What do I want them to remember?

4. I CAN’T CHOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT MY RESPONSE IS MY CHOICE. And that’s good because some of our current circumstances are much less than I had hoped.  I still have my choice. I choose my actions, right now. I can refuse to cross over when I know I’m there at the edge of control, the steam rising before my eyes.  When I have that split second of awareness, that moment of saving grace or losing my **IT**.   A still small voice says “breathe”, but do I want to stomp my foot and scream “No!”?  That point of no return where I either “Hulk” their mom before their eyes and turn green in the face, or fall back onto grace that will save me from myself and what that ability to rage inside me is capable of.  Dear God, why did you have to make it so easy to go green? Moms would be so much better with your kids if you made us a little more Stepford.  Just kidding. Thank you SO MUCH for not making me a Stepford!

5. I AM NOT THE **IT**, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME. Last week wore on more than just me.  Each day had it’s something for him.  Husband flew away and flew back. Locked keys in the car and had to walk miles.  He worked late every night except for the night that his car gave us fits and I had to drive across town to get him. That was his only “early” night at 9:30pm.  Then the weekend came with no rest but  side jobs to fill in for those ends that aren’t meeting at the end of this month. Then the man had hours upon hours of working on the cars and fixing his wife’s laptop so that she can write and share our the innermost whatever of our lives. This man is amazing. How did he happen to me? He wears shoes like this to work on the cars. I find myself in a lack of content because I haven’t got the color I want my shoes to be. Dumb woman. I want my eyes open. I’m only alone in this when I close them to these things.

He spent hours in these this weekend.
And after all of that, a week filled with so much struggle, it was also the most filled with grace and a surrounding of prayer and precious moments with children.  I was filled with utter shock, to be honest, and then joy at how often I found myself turning away from the edge of hysteria and losing of **IT**.  I did it! I found it!  I may not always, but I feel strength for tomorrow from what I accomplished in my heart last week. Looking back, I wonder, did I really make it through without one outburst?
I’ll take it, but I’m not applying for any awards ceremonies.  Because that was just one week. Now there’s this one and I’m not one to take bets on the future.  Just taking each day as it comes, thank you very much.

This morning, things were sailing along smoothly, for a Monday.  All were fed and dressed with bags packed and lunches made for  our two out-of-home-schoolers.  The homeschoolers were ready to begin. It’s a new week and the last one is behind me. Then after we settle in,  husband walks back in the front door with the 7 year old.  Ladies, toddlers aren’t the only ones who wait until the last minute to go in their diaper and make you late.  For those of us who are still in this diaper business with older kids….**IT** still happens. So, there I stood once again. He will be late for school, again. So will his sister.  Because of a load of **IT**.  And I’m not feeling the extreme edge of anger that I could, but I know this is another of those cross over moments.  Mondays are already hard days, do we really have to start with **IT**? Yes, apparently we do and I don’t get a choice about that. **IT** already happened.

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My choice now is in how I respond. So I walk my big boy to the bathroom trying to convince him that he DID go, but he doesn’t believe me because he doesn’t feel it or smell it. He doesn’t understand. We go through the routine, again.  And I know my words, my expression and my choices will effect how this guy feels about himself as time marches on and he is still in diapers in a year… maybe even two. Third grade? Fourth? He’s the one who has to process this. I’m helping HIM.  I can’t feel sorry for myself to still be dealing with diapers. This is not about me.

And he’s off to school. All taken care of.  Not yelled at or shamed..whew.  I made it through another change.

I’ve washed my hands 8 times. I still smell like **IT**.  Now I don’t want to drink my coffee. Gets my hands too close to my face and ruins it all for me.  Sigh…

I remember complaining when he was 4, unaware that the issue was not stubbornness or laziness. I did thinks like the Extreme Potty Training Makeover.   Why would this kid not potty train!?!?  Now, as he nears the age of 8, and we understand what he faces ( Read: A Boy And His Poop, Getting To Know Asperger Syndrome)  I have to tell you. I am thankful for his issue with  **IT**. Every time I change him is another chance to exercise my soul.  Will I go for saving grace or for losing **IT**.
And here’s the deal. God is so into hilarity. He absolutely knows my sense of humor well and my love for a bit of irony. He has quite literally  used almost 8 years of actual feces to teach me how to not to lose my **IT**.  You’ve gotta admit it.  That is pretty much awesome.  (Want more hilarity? Read: A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity, And The Quest For A Shower)

So for those of you who have asked “How I do it”, who seem to think that I have something you don’t, be aware that I spent my time Waiting For Supermom. She doesn’t exist.  I, of all people, will never reach a stake of being some kinda Mama Yoda.   And let us not forget, Yoda was 900 years old!!! That’s way more practice than  any of us will ever have.  And there’s something else to consider…..
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Notice, you never see them together,  just like Miley  Crunkis and Justin Blueberry…   There may be something to this Yoda vs. Hulk thing.  Saving Grace vs. Losing our **IT**.

I think the answer is in finding the grace that is IT, because it  IS always available. The question is not whether grace exists in our moments of  struggle with **IT**.  His grace is present in ALL of the moments.

The ones leading up to **IT**.

The moment **IT** happens.

The second we choose whether Saving or Losing…. Grace or **IT**.

And ultimately, the grace is still there….. even if you chose to lose your **IT** this time.

It’s there. Always.  You have to choose to know it, see it,  grasp it, cling to it and don’t let go. I pray that it won’t take YOU almost 8 years of daily **IT**… but if that is what it will take, I’m gonna have to pray that you be blessed with lots of **IT**.

Now, while you try to process all of that…. I’m going to go wash my hands again. I really thought I had it gone that last time.  But then, I always do and there’s always more…. Thankful for more…again.

Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

This post is reblogged from a former post in 2011.


Several years ago a pregnant mom told me that she was in love with her midwife. I don’t mean that she was using the term loosely to describe that she was just “the bees knees”. She was serious, people.  Very, deeply serious.

This mom was not a lesbian with an erotic or partner type attraction for her care provider. That’s not what she was telling me.  She was, however, quite passionate.  Infatuated.  She had dreams about her midwife and was even bashful about how strong her feelings were.  She absolutely believed that her midwife could do no wrong.   Then here midwife induced her before her due date, “lovingly” scaring her for her own good because her baby was certain to be HUGE.  Mama lost the birth that she wanted, still trusting that her midwife would only do what’s best for her.
That mom has become much wiser, stronger and gone on to birth much bigger babies without an induction, even at home!  Awesome Mama!  I’m not so big on that midwife, though.

This is not uncommon.  Maybe the boldness to voice feelings in such a way was rare, but over and over I see women just absolutely IN LOVE and googly eyed over their OB or midwife.  They just KNOW that the care provider understand what they want and listens to them, so it does not matter that their typical pracice is not to “do” the type of birth that Mama wants. The care provider hears and knows her needs.  Mama just know that they’ll follow through with the exception to their daily norm for HER.

But they do not.  You may be telling your doula this when we know the actual statistics of your chosen care provider and hospital.  Some are so into their routine that a doula in your area can predict what their “Switch” is.
Big Baby
High Blood Pressure
Low Amniotic Fluid
Jaundice
Your Uterus Will Explode at 41 weeks and 1 day

While there are true cases of these complications, it’s hard to believe that a certain practice somehow has a corner on the market of all babies who have… let’s go with low amniotic fluid. Their statistic of it’s occurrence is so high that you would think the practice itself warrants some investigation, right? Wrong.  They “save” those moms and babies from the “threat” that they are under, when a second opinion would have clarified that, no actually your fluid is just in the low range of  PERFECTLY NORMAL.

These mamas end up confused, birthing under fear of a condition that they often do not have, put through the “Baby Factory” mindset where their body is expected to respond like the machinery a factory would be designed for.  When that body doesn’t kick in like clockwork a new issue is created, often legitimately now because you’ve messed with nature, and bad things happen.

But that’s ok. Your amazing OB or MEDwife that you adore is there to hold your hand and save you while they use instruments and tools instead of waiting on your body to do what it needs.  You adore them for it. As doulas we watch and encourage you to find as much joy and strength in your chosen path as possible. Sometimes that means letting you believe it and knowing that someday you will question all this. We hurt for you. We know what that is like.

Two years after the birth when you are still cringe in pain, remembering the experience, that OB or MEDwife won’t recognize you when bumping into each other at the grocery store.  You are one of many, but they were your only one.

NOT ALL CARE PROVIDERS ARE LIKE THIS.  Many chose obstetrics because it is literally the only specially that they can get to do surgery without the required extra years of residency for any other surgical specialty.  My OWN OB told me that was why he did it.  This is not a joke.
Yet some are amazing servants who see their career choice as a calling to serve women.   They will sacrifice their schedules and times, they will go out on a limb to give your body the space it needs and tell you the true statistics and risks for YOU to decide what you are comfortable with.  They are amazing. Your job is to find one of THEM.

This is not fair. Women should be able to trust and care for the person who we have hired to attend our births. It is completely reasonable for us to expect them to guard our best interests and provide real information that helps us understand and know what is happening. Unfortunately, we live in a society where medical professionals are required by insurance and specifically trained in med school to practice medicine defensively.  It’s wrong. Absolutely! But it’s the way it is.  I don’t envy them that either.

As I was saying puppy love is infatuation and it blinds you to reality.   You need to go into your birth fully aware, prepared, and with your eyes wide open.   You don’t want to be blindsided while you are in labor.
The question is, do you love  your care provider enough to have  medical interventions FOR them, to fit their schedule and charts?  Do you want them to be there for you so badly that you will have unnecessary major abdominal surgery?  Because women often do, and they don’t even realize it.

1. Shop Around– You are HIRING this person/group to provide a service. I have long, thick curly hair. I could NEVER go to someone who specializes in short thin haircuts. Even if they make me feel so comfortable, happy and mushy inside.  They can tell me I look great and make me feel beautiful in the moment. That’s NOT a good reason for a bad haircut, is it? And I’ll walk out of that appointment with BAD HAIR!! While they turn and croon to then next victim in their chair…
Find someone who has experience with the type of support you want. And don’t just listen to what they say. Ask the women who had the type of birth you want.  Find the group that has been proven to support moms wishes without making them fight every step of the way.
2. Find a Local Chapter of ICAN– Sure you don’t expect to have a c-section. Most women don’t.  But ICAN is about more than just VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). They’re about awareness and avoidance as well!  These women are supportive and have BTDT (been there done that).  Typically they can  recommend good local care providers that are tried and true as well as help you think through other aspects of your birth.  And you may make some fantastic friends along the way. I have!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Tuck Tail and Run!  I know women who have changed OBs at 38, 39, 40 weeks… even one who left one hospital in early labor and drove to another where she could have the vaginal birth she knew she needed instead of an automatic c-section.  You are not married to them. Don’t have a bad birth just because you feel bad about hurting their feelings. They may not even remember you in 3 months but I assure you that your body and heart will remember.

4. Choose Your Battles-   I hate the idea of women having to fight in labor. Absolutely despise it! You deserve to BE safe and feel it. You should know you are protected and have the space to relax and trust your body. You deserve to have confidence in those who are there as a safety net for what your body is doing as you birth your baby. Unfortunately, we live in a country where normal birth is under siege and the majority of women do have to fight. You may not get the support you deserve.
So, choose your battles. I’m not referring to letting them do an epesitomy  and just being happy that you got to use your vagina. Not that kind of battle.  It’s simpler than that.
You may just have to fight something, so take the time to choose what that will be.
You can choose to fight your budget and save money to hire a homebirth midwife who will support your wishes at home, when you don’t think you can afford it.

You can birth in the hospital with someone you don’t trust and fight
through labor the best you can to get your needs met.

You can choose to fight traffic and gas prices to drive to the hospital/care provider that is most experienced in supporting the the type of birth you want. That may be a 2 hour drive. 

Do you see what I’m saying here?  Staying with someone who’s close and simple is not always the best option. If it is, you’re a very lucky woman!!

5.  Listen To Your Gut – If your care provider is saying one thing but your gut is telling you that it’s going to change in labor, it most likely will. If what you’re “allowed to do” is presented differently and with more restrictions at each passing prenatal appointment… Honey, RUN don’t waddle… Go find someone you can trust!

6. Do your homework
 –  If you can afford to take a good childbirth class, DO IT! Be prepared for everything so that you can relax and birth confidently.  And I don’t mean hospital classes that simply teach you according to what that specific hospital wants you to know.  Hospital classes have a vested interest in teaching you to be a good patient.  Find an independent class. With all of the time that you took preparing for your wedding I know that you can find some time to set aside for this, right?

7. HIRE A DOULA- I do not say this simply because I am one. I want you to picture yourself 20 miles into running your first marathon. How tired you will be, the fight for every step, the heaving chest, the sudden doubts that you can make it. Now imagine someone standing next to  you asking if you want drugs, if you want a c-section, if  this, if that.. we can get that baby out in thirty minutes…
The only thing that you can predict about your birth is that it WILL be unpredictable.  A doula’s job is to be one of your safe, constant predictable factors.
She is SO MUCH more than a BFF for the day.  A doula is there to gently remind you of the decisions that you have made, to offer educational information on decisions that you did not expect to make so that you feel informed. To look you in the eye on that final mile and remind you that you ARE doing it already!!!  To bring strength to your partner by supporting them and giving  a sounding board for their fears and questions as well, so that your partner can support you better than they knew they were able to.  You paid for professionals on your wedding day.  Pay for them now.  A doula is worth it.

I want you to LOVE your birth team. I do,  but the person who you need to love enough to base your decisions are, are both inside of you.
I want you to birth with no regrets…

Gestate in peace ladies,
The Doula

OTHER POSTS TO READ:
Birth Announcement Etiquette: Ban The Birth “Firsts”

 

Birth Announcement Etiquette- BAN the Birth “Firsts”

I have been a birth doula for almost 7 years now and have attended around  250 births.  I signed up to support women and their families through one of the most amazing experiences of a lifetime and to hold them up with my own body and soul through their first moments with a new human being.
I prepared myself for the toll it would take on me.  Exhausted muscles, worn out limbs, sleepless fogs and aching of my heart from things unexpected.
You know what I did not prepare for? The trauma and hurt that I never expected to walk so many families through?

The devastation of “Birth Firsts.”

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What is a Birth First?
It is the stealing of that moment, the first time it is said…

Our child is BORN!

That moment when new parents, whether it is their first, last or any in between, get to tell the world that their child has made it into their arms. For many it is a huge moment… like the kiss at the end of the wedding ceremony.  For some, they get the kiss out of the way and get on to the party. Others have waited for that moment, that kiss, and dreamed of it their entire lives. Neither is wrong, but it depends on the couple themselves to decide how important it is to them. Not the guest. Not the friends and family.

As a witness to births, I see couples go through deciding how, when and who to tell first. It can be a huge deal to them, or sometimes not. Often there are some politics involved, especially with the variety of family antics we all experience.  At times there are boundaries that need to be respected, maybe some family and friends need to be held off for awhile so the new mom and dad can feel ready and confident to face others after a private time of “cocooning in” with their new little person.  Some moms are taking photos and posting it to Facebook within 30 minutes, some wait until 2 days after the birth.

All of these are within their rights.  They deserve to make that decision. Often they don’t get to.

This is what I also get to see.  The moment they realize that someone else has trumped them.  A friend or family member has let out the “Birth First”.   That private photo texted to two people is suddenly sent to an entire email list or posted on Facebook and tagged.

It happens so fast.  Within minutes, cell phones are ringing, text messages pinging and Facebook page is blowing up with congratulations while mom still hasn’t had a chance to catch her breath and dad may not have even held his child yet.   The moment was taken. They can’t get it back.

Often the stealing is unintentional. It can even be well meant and come from a place of pure joy and love for the family. Actually, new grandparents, aunts and uncles are high in numbers of guilt on this one.  Their joy is genuine and the harm was not intended.  Yet it is there.  I get to be in the room and see the hurt and betrayal felt by parents who don’t get to announce their own child to their friends.  They are almost always hurt, they feel cheated. They are blindsided. Trust me,  intentional or not you do NOT want to be the one to cause that for them.

Over the years and families I have learned a great trick. You see, as a birth professional, I am even bound to not talk to others in the birth community.  I follow HIPAA guidelines.  It gets tricky when someone gives birth and their three friends, who I also served through their births, want the inside scoop.  My answer is to always smile and say, “They were amazing and the birth was beautiful. You should ask them about it!!”

It’s not my story. Not my glory.  If you have had the honor of being  in the birth room or waiting room for a birth, I encourage you to do the same.  Respecting their privacy is a great way to show gratitude for the honor of being included in the experience.

True, some parents aren’t that concerned about it. They don’t mind you telling for them. They may be relieved to have one last thing to do and feel honored that you are so trigger happy that you post before the cord is cut!

ASK THEM FIRST.  Be sure that you have clear permission to talk to others, text others, post to the world.  If not, DO NOT.

So here is a little help for you.

Birth Announcement Etiquette:
If you know that someone has given birth, but they have not announced it THEMSELVES on Facebook it is inappropriate to congratulate them, thus making the announcement that they may have been withholding. It doesn’t matter if you are family, friend, coworker or part of their fan club.

You are not Perez Hilton. No one needs to “FIRST” their birth.  Please wait until the new parents themselves have shared the information to congratulate them. It is an amazing gift to respect their time together.

Respect their privacy, please.
That is all

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OTHER POSTS TO READ:
Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (5 Thinks I’ve Learned Through 7 Years of Poop)

When God’s Timing Turns Me Into a Two Year Old – Because Patience Isn’t My Thing

Poetic Empathy for Moms of Autism

I had to come up with something, even if i was just going to share it with myself. Something poetic if only to justify my day to myself.

photo (27) It’s not you, it’s me.

Ruckus destroyed a project.
Again.
The Brainiac and Big Sister had been working on for hours.
Again.
This happened while they were both downstairs working on their responsibilities in our home… one ironing and one loading dishes. They were being GOOD, and obedient, pleasantly working without complaint.  They didn’t deserve their work destroyed yet here we are.

Same story, different day.

So I go through the routine, but he doesn’t get it today any more than he did yesterday or the day before. There is no remorse because there is no empathy. There is no click in his brain of understanding that he has ruined their work or why they are upset.  He needed those legos.  Now.  That is all that exists to him.

Ruckus is a sensitive kid. He is caring and loving and full or emotions.  They just don’t work on the same level of awareness that the majority has.  So we work on this. Often.

How do we do it? How do we show the heart of the matter to these little ones who don’t have the capacity to put themselves in the place of others. They don’t “do” outside their own box well. Their box of understanding is as intriguingly limitless and bursting with potential as it is small and restricting, to those of us who can’t see inside of it.
His heart is there.
His feelings are there.
They are boxed up.
He sees what he did. He recognizes that it was not ok.  It is done and he has moved on to something else. His logic tells him to do the next thing.  The whole incident is outside of his box now. It’s up to me to work it back into his frame of reference.

So we worked through that today. For awhile.  I see glimmers of hope and I know we’ll get there. Not today, not next week, but I have seen the amazing other side of these people, the ones who surf a different spectrum of viewing life. I know my son will turn out as a wonderful man.   God made him to be. Without a doubt.

It just requires some serious dedication from everyone in our family and everyone around us. To work inside a box, and also nudge him outside of his box.

Still, sometimes as moms of spectrum surfers we need an outlet, if only to blow off some steam in a different direction that doesn’t point toward our kids. Steam can burn. We all no that.
We need to let it go in a way that doesn’t close them in.

Oh. Right.

Back to my opening sentence. I had to think of something. Something to decompress and let go of this situation and the angry response that well up in me, threatening to ruin any headway we have made with the Ruckus.
I did.
It felt good and I’ll share it with you for a little snort and chuckle. Here it is. My garbled attempt at  throwing together a few words, with no time for rhyme or reason.  Just words. My attempt at being one of those clever wordsmith types who throw together phrases that say something important, but not.
A Meme Artist, if you will.
With snorts and the spitting of coffee and rolling on floors type. I want the time to do that. That may never be me. I’m not that funny, yet here is today’s offering. My 15 minutes of free time:

Teaching empathy to an autism surfer is akin to
Climbing an Eiffel Tower constructed entirely of Legos
One leg glued to the other with a mix of glitter glue and E6000 adhesive
Flopping along like a mermaid out of water,  

A weighty sloth on my back.. arms wrapped round my neck twice
Little paws flopped heavily over my eyes.
This would happen, of course, the only way it could,
With my hair bedraggled, no makeup, and teeth unbrushed
Wearing the stained, beat-to-threads kinda dress that is
Only meant to be seen around the house dress, 

 While suddenly finding my nostrils plugged with the baby wipes
The ones left over

from the last time I changed my 8 year old’s diaper,
Which was a really bad one.

Because as you know, if you know me at all, I always smell poop. Every where I go. I smell it.

I think it’s me.
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P.S.
Everyone should own some E6000.  For realz.