You know those magical moments with your children when they make you immensely proud and happy? At first it is the little milestones they achieve as they grow - they smile for the first time, they roll over, they stand up on their own. Then they learn things - they count to ten, they put their shoes on by themselves, they figure out how to use a scooter and a bike. Well, there are those moments...and then there is the other kind.
I think one of the first notorious reality checks is the one involving poop. Poop is an extremely popular topic for years to come, of course. But the one I am thinking of is you in the supermarket loading the cart, all frazzled, because you forgot your shopping list at home, which at your current state of barely functioning means you will return with twenty things you don't need and zero things you need really badly, and while bouncing back and forth in order to keep your baby content in the baby carrier that is strapped to your chest you realize there is something warm running down your stomach. And no, it is not pee. If you are up for it, throw in a toddler that is working diligently on creating a clean up call at isle 5. But even without the toddler, your options on how to clean yourself up and get any scraps of dignity and grace back into your life are fairly nonexistent.
Poop stories don't end there. So far we have not yet experienced the joy of Kai pulling off his soiled diaper and making a beautiful brown art on the walls and carpets, but I have been forewarned. Here is where the proud, happy moments and embarrassing, distressing moments intertwine. Here is a joyful Kai running across the park to me, smile ear to ear, raising his arms above his head the closer he gets to signal he wants to be picked up. Here is a tear eyed Mommy, lifting her precious baby up in the air, then sitting him on her hip with his legs dangling and kicking her waist and thighs, his little arms around her neck. Here is the same Mommy noticing the precious baby managed to step in fresh dog poop with not one, but both feet and that dog poop is now being smeared all over her shirt and pants, both in the front and back. Here is the very same Mommy once more, seeing that while paying attention to what is going on around and below her waist, her shirt is being pulled down by two chubby hands and her bra is exposed for all the world to see. I used to buy glamorous lingerie to get and keep attention of this hot tall doctor I was dating. Now I do it to feel comfortable enough when suddenly standing in the middle of the crowd with my top missing. Man, life changes...
Eventually you get used to it. Eventually you just shrug your shoulders when you discover that the dirt your child is playing with is not dirt at all. You do curse the people who don't pick up after their dogs, but that's about it. Eventually, when you notice the piece of bark your darling is throwing around in the playground has teeth and realize that it is, in fact, a dead, half eaten squirrel and the playground does not have bathrooms with running water and a soap or hand sanitizer, you just imagine an extra glass of wine with dinner and all is fine. Then you can move on from poop horrors to the real embarrassing stories, like when your 22 months old angel kicks a cute little doggie in the park, completely out of blue, and then continues to squeal in delight every time you try to explain to him what a bad thing that is to do. And - as kids do - he will cheerfully share the story with everyone he meets for the next month or so.
In the end, you can only survive it with a good sense of humor. I have a mantra I keep repeating to myself in situations like these - it will be a really funny story one day. I try to remember that if I heard a story like that from somebody else, I'd probably be peeing my pants laughing. It's not always easy, but I try.