Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Mom, Now and Forever. Amen.

Potty training is an interesting thing, primarily because it involves so much pee. And so much pee involves constant questions about pee and all things pee related. I think that the only words I’ve spoken out loud in the past two weeks are, “Do you have to go potty? How about now? How about NOW?” And I also think that I’ve spent every waking minute of the past two weeks carrying Blair to a potty with pee running down her leg, lifting Blair from a potty with pee running down her leg, inviting her to watch me go potty so she can see that pee doesn’t always have to run down one’s leg. And then, after she pees on the potty like a big girl, I give her an M&M.

Potty training is also an interesting thing because, before potty training, I was acting a little self-important about the whole mom gig. I mean, yes, my book--The Second Nine Months: One Woman Tells the Real Truth About Becoming a Mom. Finally—is out, and yes, it’s all about the transition to motherhood and how hard it is to be a new mom and how no one ever talks about it. Yes. Yes. Yes. And it’s all very cool. And exciting. And I love every person who is buying it and reading it and not hating it.

But my daughter Blair, the one I write about in the book? She’s almost three, now. And I already have another daughter, who is eight months. So I’m going through my SECOND second nine months, with a whole lot of “Been there, done that,” on my face. Colic? Survived that. Baby poop? Survived that. Going back to work? Survived that. Wanting to kill my husband hourly? Survived that (as did he…barely). In other words, I’m not exactly a “new mom” anymore. Or, at least, that’s what I was telling myself.

Until, the potty incident.

There are things that you will never be prepared for. I know this now. I know, now, that no matter how many children you have, you will always have an oldest child. And the things that oldest child does will always be new to you, will always surprise you, will always shock the mascara right off of you, reminding you that you do not have a map, that you do not have a manual, that you and this kid are forging ahead into unchartered waters of motherhood and beyond. Because the truth is this: You will now, forever, and always be “a new mom.”

Because, really, what could be a newer experience than taking your daughter to the bathroom and having her watch you go potty, and then having her watch your husband go potty? Because that’s what you want her to know—EVERYBODY pees, EVERYBODY poops, EVERYBODY goes in the potty. And then she asks, “Daddy, why don’t you sit down?” And he explains. And then she asks, “Daddy, what’s that?” And he explains, and you’re looking on so lovingly, so proud that we are a family that’s not afraid to ask questions, that’s not afraid to be frank. And you think, “Boy, we’re getting good at this parenting thing.” And then, as he’s tucking himself in, as she’s waving bye-bye to his pee as it’s swirling down the toilet and away, she turns, fast. And she reaches up, fast. And she grabs onto my husband’s ding dong (ding dong?) like she expects it to snap right off.

If the look that my husband and I immediately shot at each other had words, those words would have been—“Idon’tknowwhattodo!Idon’tknowwhattodo!Idon’tknowhattodo!” Because, seriously—I didn’t know what to do! Because, while she may be three, I am very clearly still HER new mom. But before we could even say a word, she let go, and ran out of the bathroom, down the hall, toward the kitchen. All the way, while we stood, frozen, like deer in headlights, we could hear her yelling: “Daddy…YOU get an M&M!!!”