Thursday, April 12, 2012

There is no “P” in Mom.


I had a lovely Easter. It was a beautiful, warm day flooded with sunshine coaxing spring smells from the tulips and lilies. We had a grand time at church, noshing beforehand on hard boiled eggs and sweet baked goods, celebrating Christ’s return to life during the service, and afterward running behind the kids with our cameras out while they hunted for seasonal sugar bombs. A lazy afternoon followed back at home with my children, my husband, and my mother-in-law. We ate Easter egg salad for lunch as per usual, but parted ways with Easter ham in favor of a beef brisket. I won’t forget this Easter. It was memorable.

Not least because I peed on the kitchen floor.

I have a long history of being a pee-pee dancer. A preference to wait until the last moment that I see in my own kids who wiggle and sit on their ankles as a kind of Little Dutch Boy with his finger in the dam. I tell my kids to “Stop wiggling and just go pee already.” I remind them that it only takes a minute and that they won’t miss anything exciting while they avail themselves of modern plumbing. This is advice I share in the parental tradition of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Even my first grader is on to me.  “Mom, do you have to pee? Sheesh! Just go.”

It’s true that I will sometimes put off a visit to the potty so I can finish up a little task or twelve. So long as the chores don’t include running water, I can make it. But on Easter I attempted to rinse off a few dishes while toting a full bladder. One dish, two, I needed to back my lower half up, bending at the waist and leaning my forearms on top of the sink’s edge. You know this move? It’s a maneuver which, simply by pushing your butt out away from the rest of you, gives you a false sense of control, convincing you that you can wait just a minute longer until running for the loo. It worked long enough to get me through dish three and four. A strategic knee bend, a meeting of the thighs, I was going to make it if I hurried.

Somewhere around dish six I had one of those transported-through-time memories. I was standing at the water’s edge on a beach in Barbados, feeling the humid breeze in my hair and looking down at my feet through nearly a foot of water. I was smiling because I’d never before stood in water that was nearly the same temperature as the air, nearly the same temperature as my body. It was such a strange sensation because it felt like I wasn't wet at all.

Ditto peeing down my right leg at a very slow trickle. It almost felt like I wasn't wet at all. Like, maybe it was all a dream. I wasn't really a grown person with my rear thrust out behind me, a queer kink in my knees, and a mini crouch intended to delay the inevitable so that I could finish rinsing off a plate that, as far as I knew, had nowhere urgent to be---all this instead of making the ten foot trek to the bathroom where I easliy could have deposited my urine without flushing my dignity.

So, it took me a few seconds to recall that I wasn’t on my honeymoon; I was in my kitchen, failing at potty training. There was a short time when I realized what was happening, but was unable to stop myself. I almost called out for assistance, but what would I have said? "Bring a bucket!" Or, "I need an adult undergarment!" No, I decided it would be best to keep quiet and I spent those precarious moments begging God to keep my dirty deed secret.

You'll be glad to know I made it to the bathroom. After I cleaned myself up I was lucky to walk back into a still-empty kitchen. A few sprays with the all-purpose cleaner and a single paper towel were enough to soak up the evidence.

But know you all know. I’m airing my dirty laundry on my blog. I'm tattling on myslef not only because potty humor rules, but also because I cannot carry this embarrassment alone. I operate under the belief that these kinds of things happen to everyone. Asking a new mom when her baby is due, making fun of your boss without knowing she's standing right behind you, tooting in an elevator, buying tuna fish sandwiches from vending machines---we all make these mistakes. Sharing these mistakes makes us feel better about ourselves, the same way that a boy who trips up the stairs in the senior hallway between classes feels better a week later when he can laugh and point at the girl who drops her lunch tray on the school heartthrob. It's better self-esteem through ridicule.

I’m hoping that I’m not the only 35-year-old mother of four (how could I expect my bladder to perform under these circumstances?) who now finds she watches Depends commercials with more interest than usual. I see an actress twisting a water-soaked pad between two vises and I’m relieved there is no leakage. Tell me that you, too, find hope in the proof that adult diaper technology is on the cutting edge of dryness.

Yes, friends, I can handle humiliation in the public sphere, as long as I know I’m not alone. I can smile in the midst of taunting if I know there’s a great cause to be served, a purpose for my pee. I’ll be the brave face of the Incontinent Mother’s Movement---a Kegel in every groin and a pad in every purse. We will not let our frequent need to urinate nor let our child-bearing weakened pelvic floors dampen our resolve to finish the dishes. There is no “P” in M-O-M; it’s running down her leg.

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