Sunday, March 06, 2016

Motherhood and toilet seats

As of today, Zoë has a grand total of seven teeth. She's also sporting a brand new goose egg because gravity is really tricky to figure out.

Benjamin still wets the bed every night but is finally starting to figure out how letters work. He is full of energy all the time. Even when he's sick.

Miriam has memorized her part for the musical frontwards and backwards. She listens to the soundtrack on repeat all night long. (And sometimes she listens to one song on repeat all night long and wakes up in the morning wondering why it's stuck in her head. But I know why...because it's usually stuck in my head as well and for the very same reason.)

Rachel's entering that tricky stage of life where her friends are always feuding and math has gone from addition and basic geometry (name that shape!) to multiplication and fractions. In short, life is starting to seem a whole lot more complicated than it once was.

And I'm right in the middle of it all.

I wanted to be here.

I dreamed of being here—in this place where discovering a seventh tooth is the highlight of the day and where stroking the head of my eight-year-old makes her feel a teensy bit better about so-and-so not talking to so-and-so.

Most of the time I know that this is what I wanted to do most of all. That this is the most important thing I could be doing. That this is my contribution to society.

But sometimes I feel like I'm withering away in motherhood. Sometimes I'm made to feel--and sometimes I just feel--like I'm not contributing to anything.

I'm not working. I'm not going to school. I didn't even know Hamilton was a musical. I only know how to talk about my children. That's my whole life.

And I love it. But sometimes I worry that people get sick of hearing about my journey through motherhood. Sometimes I feel like other people look down on me for choosing to stay home with my kids (which probably says more about my personal insecurities and proclivity to judge others than it says about anyone else) instead of...I don't know...raking in money or curing cancer or whatever.

Andrew knows this about me and he tries to validate my role whenever he can. He knows that I'm always covered in other peoples' snot and that I'm tired, too tired, to do the things I dream of doing one day (like writing a book or getting dressed...depending on the day). He knows that I need to know that he appreciates what I'm doing.

Last night he sent me a link to a By Common Consent article that was perfect for me. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
My story is filled with motherhood right now, how could it not be? And why would a basic tenet like motherhood not have something of value to offer in the world of telling our stories?  Does the only valuable storytelling have to be well-spoken or well-researched?
I am learning to be kind to the words I want to speak and mostly my kindness starts by simply by speaking, writing or letting my thoughts know I care for them. Often, I write or speak with just myself as audience, and that act is still one of generosity and value.
The author has a book coming out soon (Andrew will be typesetting it very, very soon) and I'm excited to read it. I love that Andrew's so good at what he does that they've fought to keep him on for so long after we left BYU. He works so hard for our family—in part so that I can stay home with our children and in part because he's simply a hard worker.

I'm so lucky to have him.

A guy-friend of mine posted a picture of french toast this morning and mentioned that it was their first time making french toast. "What, like, ever?!" I wondered to myself. "How?! He's been married longer than I have! How has [name withheld] lived for [x-number of years] without her husband making french toast once?!"

So I thanked Andrew for making french toast from day one of our marriage. Not that he always makes the french toast in this house. We shoulder that burden fairly equally.

Still, I'm trying to imagine living my life without a husband who will cook (fairly frequently) and I don't like it, not one little bit!

Andrew's a much better cook than I am. He has certainly done the bulk of the cooking for the past year or so (when diabetes had me eating the same meals everyday so as not to mess with my perfect blood sugar levels and then when I had a newborn to deal with and then when I had a not-so-newborn to deal with). I've stepped up my game in the dinner-making department lately because he's become quite swamped with school and work. But I am, oh, so glad that he will cook. And, if we're honest, that he's a good cook. Because I'm pretty much not (we polled the kids and that was the consensus).

And since I'm gushing about Andrew, let me tell you about what he really got me for Valentine's Day.

It was a few days before Valentine's Day and I was scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing the bathroom, trying to get the smell of pee out of there. Potty training little boys (at least this particular little boy) is a whole lot messier than potty training my little girls ever was!

I was scrubbing the floor and the shower curtain and the garbage can and the walls and...just everything...but the bathroom still smelled like pee so, so strongly. It was driving me crazy.

Andrew helped me zero in on where the smell was coming from—the toilet seat.

So I started scrubbing that toilet seat. Like, really, really scrubbing it. But it wasn't making things any better. The bathroom still smelled really bad, like truck stop bad. And I just felt like a complete failure because I clean that toilet all the time but apparently not often enough or well enough.

I was furiously scrubbing the toilet seat, almost in tears, when Andrew walked in and said, "Just stop. Put the toothbrush down. That toilet seat was gross when we moved in. We'll just get a new one."

"But..." I said.

"I don't want to watch you scrub that toilet any more," he said and then he grabbed his wallet and keys, headed to the hardware store, brought home a new toilet seat and installed it. And now our bathroom doesn't smell like a truck stop anymore. It still smells like a little boy missed the toilet bowl a time or two, but that easily is taken care of with our regular bathroom cleaning.

(Our theory, if you're interested, is that the seat was absorbing urine like a sponge. That thing smelled so bad.)

It was one of the most romantic gifts I've ever received.

I never thought I'd be on the verge of tears over a new toilet seat. But then again, toilets always have been a very real part of our love story...

An actual toilet at our actual wedding reception

I found a picture of the poster that was above the toilet:

Now we just need to find the poem I wrote for Andrew...


  1. I love that Andrew is how he is. He has taken after his dad in the best ways. We are both truly blessed to have them in our lives.

  2. What a great post. It is a fact that I often think of you specifically in the trenches of motherhood and wish that more of us could be like you. You are so good at what you do. And Andrew makes a good teammate. Never thought a toilet seat story could bring tears to my eyes!

  3. Replies
    1. Andrew scrubs toilets. We are equal opportunity toilet scrubbers (though some are more equal than others).

  4. Andrew set the bar so high in the husbands department, Josie may never find someone who measures up...

  5. New toilet seats are something we were recently excited about as well, so you're not alone there. Don't know how you approach the toilet-usage, but in our house we trained the boys sitting down. This has (based on stories of others) drastically reduced incidences of pee-in-random-places. We get the occasional oops on the seat and an even rarer oops didn't quite make it to the toilet in time, but otherwise are free of pee odor. The rule is they can pee standing up all they want at school or wherever else (once they discover such a thing is an option), but they must sit when at home. When we can trust them to do a thorough cleaning job they'll be allowed to do otherwise.

    1. Maybe I will try that way again. We had him start standing to pee because when he sat he would pee straight through between the seat and the lid *every single time.* It was a bit ridiculous. But now standing is so entertaining because he can do such fancy things... :)

  6. New toilet seats are a treat! I remember going to home depot and seeing how relatively inexpensive they were and thinking why the heck have I lived with these horrible looking ones for years! Ahh motherhood. Lovely and fulfilling but also sometimes torture. I really struggled when Jason was in school and training and we were surrounded by all these woman doing all these amazing things and I was at home. It helps now that we are out of training and finally a lot of them are getting to the point where they want to have kids and suddenly a lot of them are jealous of me and wish they could spend a little more time at home. Life is all about trade offs I guess. Sucks right. I still look at Bridget a lot and think, man I wish I could be half as accomplished, but I'm also finding contentment in where I am. And Bridget is are amazing at what you do...OK maybe not on the cooking front, but you have Andrew for that, and chicken pot stickers from Costco :)

    1. Also I mean this as no disparagement to just happen to be our mutual coolest friend. You know we love you and want to be you :)