Oh, milestones. You know, the first time your baby rolls over. The first smile, first laugh.
Their first solid poop.
That’s the one that got me. Hit me right in the gut. I flushed his little turd down the toilet and cried.
I want Teddy to grow up, to become more independent. I don’t want to be the mom who keeps my children dependent on me on purpose so that I’m always needed. I look forward to the day when Teddy says, “I’m hungry,” and I can reply, “Are your arms painted on, kid? Make yourself a sandwich.” I’m super into Montessori philosophies which promote the child doggedly pursuing independence at every turn.
But that little turd. Oh my. Teddy has started eating solid food. It’s fun to watch him try new things. He loves peaches and nectarines, devours dark chocolate and smears it all over his face. He tucks into meal with glee. At first, it wasn’t clear how much he was actually ingesting. But that little semi-solid turd was proof. He’s growing up.
If you’re unfamiliar, breast-fed baby poop is rather innocuous. It’s pretty runny and doesn’t smell bad. Some say it smells like buttermilk. I can’t confirm this, as buttermilk isn’t something I sniff regularly. But it’s a far cry from the kind of poop that makes your stomach turn when you have to use a port-a-potty. If you think about it, if you drank nothing but milk, what kind of poop would you have? It’s all the food-stuffs that make it nasty.
Now, his sweet little buttermilk poo has been compromised. He is digesting food. It doesn’t smell so bad yet, but it has changed consistency.
Dear me, I hope you’re not reading this over breakfast.
Weird things make me cry as a mother. Poop has been one of them. When Teddy was born, I had this overwhelming and urgent need to hold him close. In fact, I wanted to press him back into my womb, where he could be safe. I wanted to eat him up. I knew those thoughts were irrational, but that’s how close I felt to him. I guess I’ve never grown anyone else inside my body before, so I don’t know if that’s typical.
First, he came out of my womb, after weeks of me begging him to just quit it already and be born. He detached himself from the placenta that had been keeping him alive, the organ I grew just to support him. They cut the umbilical cord. But still, he slept cuddled next to me and got his food from my body.
I like making things. I get a real satisfaction out of knitting something or cooking a great meal. But I have felt no greater satisfaction than looking at my baby’s chubby little legs and thinking, “I made that.” It makes me feel all powerful. It connects me with some sort of woman-as-life-giver internal power where I feel like holding a sword over my head and glowing like a mama-version of She-Ra.
I am still making Teddy. I carefully pick out his food and his toys. I think hard about how I talk to him and some day, I will agonize over where he goes to school. Surely, I am master of his tiny universe.
But someday, I won’t be. And that’s what that turd symbolizes. The separation. The chasm that will become wider and wider.
I want that. Some days, I crave it. “Would you just give me a second, kid?” I say. I have not slept a solid 8 hours in 7 months, and I don’t expect I will for some time. Some days, I long to be the care-free person I was before I had a child. Some day, I will leave the house for an entire day (or even days!) at a time, with no thought to anyone needing me to lactate. Whew.
But also, Teddy is part of me. You know that cliche they say about your child being a little piece of your heart walking around in the world. It’s entirely true. Oh man, I love that kid. And in a weird way that I promise you isn’t as stalker-ish and obsessive as it sounds, he is an extension of me.
Just thinking about that little turd brings tears to my eyes again. It’s poop, but it’s also beautiful and bittersweet.
Put that in your potty and flush it.