It is a truth generally acknowledged (by mothers, primarily) that just when we feel most at peace and spiritually centered (like for example, when we are elbow deep in dishwater and scrubbing thoughtlessly at the remnants of macaroni and cheese in the pot) that something dreadful hits the proverbial fan.
That was me about three hours ago. It was quiet and the suds caught the setting sun in a refractory confection that dazzled my end-of-the-school year benumbed mind. Clint and Lauren were in Ann Arbor on a Craig's List crazed hunt for a new(er) piano, Jonah was taking care of recycling and compost. And I thought Jared was playing in his room.
Just as I was letting the water out of the sink, I heard Jared sliding down the stairs--not walking, mind you. He walks when he's confident, slides when he's hiding something. "Hi, mom," he announced. "I cleaned up all the poop."
If you're not a mom, this might sound like a good thing. But if you're a mom--or if you're at all familiar with the cleaning capabilities of the average toddler--you know this is quite, quite far from a good thing.
I dropped my rubber gloves and sprinted for him, and as I did, I noticed that while he was still wearing the same shirt he'd had on earlier, the pants were all new. "Where are your clothes, Jared?" I asked, trying to smother the rising sense of panic. That was when I smelled the unmistakable smell. I couldn't tell if it was wafting from his body or from another location--or both.
He smiled at me, his face an angel's, and he shrugged--a new trick he's recently acquired. "I don't know," he said.
I followed my nose and found a discarded pair of slightly soiled undies in the middle of his floor. But these weren't the undies I put on him this morning. "Where are your clothes?" I asked again.
He pointed at his shirt and smiled again. Is a two year old capable of playing dumb? I'm asking you honestly. I don't know if he's less clever than I think or far more clever than I fear.
I sniffed again and followed the trail to the bathroom, where I found a pile of very soiled undies and pants on the floor right next to the toilet.
"Oh," he said. "I had a assident." His smile, in case you haven't met him, is irresistible. "I'm sorry, momma."
After I stripped him and put him in the tub, I cleaned up the mess, finding a few more rather disgusting surprises in unexpected places. I'll spare you the details. But as I was scrubbing and throwing the whole mess of things into the washing machine with a healthy squirt of germicide (don't worry: Jonah was supervising the bathtub), I had to stop and smile at the whole thing.
Yes, he had an accident. And yes, it was really disgusting. But that was the worst of it. On the positive side, I had a potty-trained toddler (and I didn't have to do any of the work), and this little boy had done a darned good job cleaning up his mess. I am blessed any way I look at it--no, every way I look at it.
And there is only God to thank for all of it.