Karma Crapped in the Tub: How My Wife Became a Poop Doula

Like riding a bike, I always presumed that pooping was one of those things that once you learned how to do it you pretty much had it down for the rest of your life. Turns out that journey is not so simple. Our four year old has apparently hit some bumps in the road. There are small, almost imperceptible changes occurring within me over time that might suggest there is the potential that this could be an issue for me as well, albeit in the distant future.

Anyway, there I was, sitting all smug up on the toilet catching up with my selected family and friends on my phone. This was my me time. I didn’t have to use the toilet, but it’s a place a parent can sit on occasion, as long as one’s spouse is there to occupy the kids, where they are given a moments reprieve. I think of it as a panic room of sorts in the hour after dinner, before bedtime. A place to go to forget about life for upwards of 3 minutes. A spa. It was here that I came across and amusing post by my younger sister. I’m paraphrasing here, but it said something like, ‘I’ll NEVER get used to cleaning poop out of the tub!’. I responded the only way I knew how. ‘Oh my god. That’s so gross!’

After a minute or two, and after a few, more kindhearted friends and family expressed empathy and understanding in the comments, it occurred to me that I might be tempting fate. In an attempt at something of a reverse jinx I went back in to the comment thread and expressed something closer to thoughtfulness. Something like, ‘Oh that so sucks. I’m so sorry. We’ve been lucky so far.’ But I was totally faking it. That sh*t doesn’t happen if your careful and stay attenti…

‘Joe! Oh no.. Joe!’ My wife shouted from upstairs.

I was on the couch enjoying my own end of night screen time alongside the big boy, the four year old, the one in the clear from the possibility of such an accident when my life took a dark turn.

‘T had an accident. In the tub!’

Oh crap.

2015-02-28 22.31.44I’m guessing that having made it this far through without this happening there are some parents that have made it all the way without dealing with this dark day. With the extracting by hand a turd that floats in parts and sinks in others like dynamited fish in a filthy pond. I remained calm on the outside because you need your children to know that although life is forever changed and we’ll never be able to truly look each other in the eye again, that they are okay and that one must be strong in the face of fear. I am a role model.

Karma was not through with us.

Believing that we’d learned all we needed to learn in order to avoid this issue in the future, we let down our guard. Somehow a few days passed without our big boy making a poop family in the potty. That’s what he calls it when it happens in phases. It’s amazing what you find cute when your kids say it. When we pointed it out to him and asked him to try he was resistent in a way that only a four year old could be. He had become afraid to poop. We coaxed. We bribed. It worked a couple of times, but it hurt and came with tears. Then he just stopped. Refused. He would have intermittent bouts of pain due to his being backed up. We couldn’t convince him with logic. We tried everything. What happens next is amongst the dumbest things I’ve ever done. I can’t believe it occurred even as I sit here and write it. It’s so dumb I’m embarrassed to say it. I decided that a good warm bath would do the trick. It did.

Our 4 year old is huge, like the size of a 7 year old. This is not an anecdote. He is the average size of a seven year old. I’ll just say that it’s possible for a backed up 4 year old, who is the size of a 7 year old to poop like a 41 year old who had a steak burrito and coffee for lunch. Through tears and the splashing of fecal infested dirty bath water we learned the power of karma and at that moment I knew it was done. Karma had made sure that I learned my lesson.

We are a modern family and my duties as a man are far more involved then men of previous generations. I am a competent and caring nurturer. Still, there are certain tasks that only a mother can perform. One of those tasks is exercised now when we note it’s been a couple of days. Our elaborate system of rewards for willing poops (chocolate, funnily enough) is pretty good. But if we let it slide the fear returns. When it does my wife becomes the guide for our boy that he needs at that moment. They will retreat to the bathroom where she will allay his fears, stick with him through his vicious rebukes and tearful apologies, always reassuring him that this is how it has worked since the dawn of time. That despite his fears, he will live through this and be so happy with the results that he’ll choose willingly to do it again! Eventually he believes her and they are one, holding hands as she provides him with the spiritual and emotional support allow his body to do what it’s made to do.

Without intending to and being motivated only by deep deep love, my wife is now a poop doula.

Endless Winter and the Next Great Generation

‘Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

… Hell no! And it ain’t over now!’

-John Blutarsky, Delta Tau Chi

harsh winter

I realize that the long term models are calling for a thousand year night and infinite coldness. I know there’s no end in sight to this permafrost. Who’s to say when this winter will end. Could be as soon as this spring. That’s just the optimists view though and I know from all your endless thermometers and ceaseless single digit and negative degree temperatures that we may not survive this thing. In fact the only data that speaks to our survival is the endless drumbeat of all history. So let us now talk about how it is we want the survivors to remember us when they come across our tools and remains and ruins. Do we want them to construct a civilization that chose to wave the white flag of surrender at this, our coldest hour, or do we want them to remember a brave if freezing people determined to to live while living and not folks that gave up at a time when we were faced with this, the greatest of challenges.

I am not stone hearted and I too bemoan our fate. But I have children and it is my duty to make sure that the number of days we have left in our lives is forever surpassed by the life we have left in our days.

I have taken to describing to them the feel of grass between their toes. To sharing with them the meaning of the word sunlight and developing simple experiments that can be created out of our household stores which, though dwindling, it remains imperative that we use them to foster their sense of discovery. For if my children are the lucky ones that survive this I want them to have some sense of what normal life was like before the ice age that has robbed them of so much that I took for granted.

The depression and the sense of general unwellness has been well documented. While it is not all defined as a response to the harsh reality we confront, if you look through the content being distributed by your network of friends you’ll notice a theme of darkness and depression. Of general defeatism. And I am here to say, STOP THIS.

I acknowledge that there is no great likelihood of this ending and us once again knowing the joys of warm sunshine on our skin. I shall likely forever long for the sounds, smells and visceral joys of a day at the ballpark and I weep that my children won’t know the same. While the stores of food for humanity will likely deplete rapidly it is now time for us to cultivate sustainable agriculture in this new landscape that is unforgiving and refuses to nurture and foster our historical crops that will become boutique items that can only be grown in green houses. Sure, we’ll develop these resources further, over time, but what will I do to teach my children of the joyous sensual delight of eating an apple off of a tree or picking wild blackberries that were once so prevalent just beneath the snow they will now know as there native landscape.

The reality that we will never again be truly warm and filled with the invigorating sunlight that once lasted late into an evening of  a summers day challenges not only our minds and our bodies, but no less then our very souls. I say stand up and throw off the shackles of our former lives and learn to live anew. Fight the darkness with all you have and curse the night and do not allow it to hold sway over you. For we are the greatest animals to ever live and no threat to our existence has ever defeated us. For we have seen the stars and been so awed as to decide to visit them and have done so in less then a century since converting from whale blubber to oil. Less then a century since learning to light up our nights en masse. The challenges that will face us are not unlike those of many of our forefathers. It is time for us to consciously be aware of the burden we leave our children. If we don’t act to change all that we are doing in order to re-imagine humanity living in a permanent state of winter, we will have only ourselves to blame.

So damn your Seasonal Affective Disorder and Curse the devil. Stand upon the shoulders of the greatest generations which have come before us and gird yourself for the fight of a lifetime. For it is nothing less then the fight for life. We are human and there is no force in the universe that can outwit us if we determine we will not fail. We can’t fail.

2014-11-27 08.36.36


On The Road Again


Okay. It was a cruel trick to prompt your interest by using the great Willie Nelson’s song title. I have two children neither of whom can wipe their own butt yet. Both of whom are interested in doing so at the most improper times. We are not ‘on the road’ anytime soon.

You may have noticed a badge on my blog as of late (a picture, to the many people, myself included who wouldn’t have understood it to be a badge) that says ‘Original Bunker Punk’. Or something like that. It’s not here in the section I write in and I can’t be bothered to look.. Anyway, this badge is a welcome addition to my ever dwindling sense of self. A much needed boost to that portion of my brain and my person that has been neglected for the years since the kids turned up. It’s me. A newer and more up to date me. I couldn’t be prouder of that badge. I’m a bunker punk.

Now I have been called a punk precisely never. So what. One things for sure, I’m a weirdo and I’ve recently become not only comfortable with that, but also proud of it. The punks that have picked me were not looking for any credentials and I took them up on their invitation before anyone could look into my bona fide’s. I’ve come to truly love the daily support and ribaldry that membership in this syndicate has afforded me. We are a fairly talented, awfully opinionated, very supportive, hysterically funny and genuinely delusional group of auteurs and authors. So say I.

So when I was told we were going on tour I immediately started getting in tour shape. Beers for breakfast, sleeping in cars and driving from city to city selling bean burritos out of my trunk. When I sobered up in a Walmart parking lot, surrounded by various baby boomers in various recreational vehicles, I decided I should go back and try to figure out what my group leaders really meant by this. Thing is, I don’t really know. What I have determined is that they were, one at a time, posting a ‘tour piece’.  This consisted of answering a standardized set of questions. It was an interview. Well, shit, why didn’t they say so. I mean the whole reason I did this was to get attention, and now you’re asking me questions! Form questions, but still, that’s an honor in my book. I’ll take it!

Without further adieu….

1. What is your most prized possession?

My most prized posessions are all the handmade pieces of art and loveliness my parents have made for me. Any of my dissatisfaction with life that peeks through from time to time is merely temperamental, human condition stuff. My parents, like all parents, are imperfect. But they are imperfect, perfectly so. They are wonderful people who have taught me how to love life and the people that are in mine.

2. How do you unwind after a long day?

I used to drink. A lot. Probably will again someday. But the truth is engaging my brain in activities that differ from what my stress is induced by is the best way to unwind. TV is the norm. Books, particularly novels and baseball books focusing on the sports history before 1901 have been my choice of late. Mostly, when I have a minute, I write. I’m pretty much engaged in the activity all the time, in my head, so the chance to get the ideas out is wonderful.

3. What is one song that has followed you throughout your whole life?

I have not been stalked by a song, but their are a few that stick out I suppose. Blackbird, The Beatles I remember from my youth and love it still. My mother would sing Stevie Wonder, ‘You are the apple of my eye’ to me as a kid. I’ve always loved ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty. I don’t know why, but it was always a song I thought was great, even though many find it mockworthy.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers what would it be?

Write first with complete honesty and shamelessness then make it artful afterwards. For me writing is a way not only of understanding the world, but of getting to know myself, and unless I feel free to be as honest as I can on the first go round it’s usually not too good. At least on those pieces that are meaningful and connective. Funny can be applied to nearly any sincere piece of writing without harming that sincerity, but without the sincerity you’re just engaging in an intellectual exercise, which has it’s place, but doesn’t resonate as much as the really true stuff.

And finally, a quote from moi….

Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.

And this one from my mom…

Cash rules everything around me, cream get the money, dollar dollar bills, y’all.

Deep stuff. Powerful.