Last year, I became a mother. And it changed me at my very core. Or, maybe, motherhood pulled my core out of the depths of my guarded soul and made me wear it on the outside. And now, here I am, exposed, and thrust into a world where love (abounding, miraculous, insurmountable love), and poop (lots of poop), tears, laughter, kisses, delight, boredom, overwhelmedness, and joy (so much joy) run rampant. I’m sure all of those things (maybe not all the poop if you’re not a parent) rule your life, too.
My husband, baby, our goofy, lovable dog Bella, and I live in beautiful Boulder, Colorado where we run (ahem, try), hike, mountain bike, ski, and generally enjoy the outdoors when we’re not freakishly adhering to our son’s nap schedule or swamped with snot, poop, or other such bodily fluids.
Throughout my day-to-day tasks and activities, I’m not always thinking about the ways in which parenthood has fundamentally changed me. Sure, I’ve written about, and am continuously awed by, the way that my heart has opened.
However, there are other ways in which parenthood has changed me on a much more…how should I say? Primitive level.
Said basic, animal transformation became apparent when the hubbers, 9 month old baby, Z, and I, boarded an airplane next to a lovely, unsuspecting 20-something-year-old young lady. In her, I saw my pre-parenthood self. Unsuspecting.
Brilliantly, we had booked the window and the aisle seats, hoping the flight wasn’t fully booked and no one would reserve that middle seat between us, so we could bring the car seat on board with us and Z could nap! Wishful thinking, I know.
As we approached the 3-seater aisle, much to our dismay, the middle seat was taken. Hubs noticed the lovely-looking, 20-something young lady perched politely in the middle seat and said, “Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that you have a choice between the window seat and the aisle seat. The bad news is, you’ll be riding next to a baby.”
She chose the window seat. I took the middle seat next to her, while the hubs sat in the aisle seat. It seemed like a good idea at the time. 20-something smiled at me as Hubs and I muscled Z around for a few minutes, situating ourselves next to her. Whether she had a reaction to the fact that she’d be enjoying her flight next to a baby was indiscernible. She seemed truly disinterested in the happenings around her as she texted, Facebooked, or whatever on her smartphone.
In the meanwhile, Z was reaching beyond my seat, directly into her lap, and I’m trying desperately to teach him to keep his hands to himself. No, Z, you cannot have that pretty, crunchy, blue package of Pretzel M&Ms that the nice lady is eating. No, Z, that shiny box of Pringles, a perfect toy for babies, is NOT for you. Certainly she needed to order a crinkly package of M&Ms and mini box of Pringles before we even took off. The toys we brought could not rival.
Thankfully, the woman sitting in the row adjacent to us reached out her hands silently to hold Z, right in the nick of time. Sure, I’ll let a perfect stranger hold my baby. Where is she gonna go with him? Despite the sideways glance from my husband, I gladly handed Z to the silent woman who took an interest in him. I noticed fairly quickly that she was deaf. She held him for about three minutes, and I reclaimed him when it was time for takeoff.
Z immediately went back to 20-something, doing his best to woo her. He did everything he could to get her attention including, but not limited to, cooing, reaching, and babbling. Finally, 20-something looked over at Z and gave him a cursory smile.
“Cute baby,” she said.
Z was delighted. Finally, he thought to himself, she’s looking at me! She’s engaged! And – uh, wait…
And then it happened. As 20-something was looking at Z, cordially asking questions about his name, age, etc…Z, looked her dead in the eye, began grunting the loud grunt of a baby who’s recently begun devouring all kinds of solid foods. His face was beet red, his breath held, the grunts guttural and loud.
I swear, 20-something said something to the effect of, “Oh, my…”
I couldn’t hear her because I’d buried my head in D’s t-shirt, laughing hysterically.
No, Z’s poops usually aren’t that funny to me. But this one, in the confinement of the airplane, next to 20-something, WITH the eye contact and grunting? It was too much.
And it stank to high heaven. Must have been the pancakes and bananas he had for breakfast that morning. AND he did it right as we were taking off, so it was another 20 minutes or so before the Fasten Seat Belt sign went off and I could squish into the airplane bathroom with him to change his diaper.
As you may or may not know, changing a squirmy baby in an airplane bathroom is all kinds of fun. Especially when it involves a full wardrobe change. At least this bathroom had a changing table – the same cannot be said for all airplane bathrooms, as I unhappily discovered on this trip.
Alas, after the grunting incident, 20-something did her best to avoid making eye contact with Z. Who can blame her, really? Although I’m comfortable talking about and dealing in the realm of baby poop now- I swear, it was not always this way. It was awkward to say the least.
It’s a rare moment in one’s life when another person – baby or not – looks you square in the face whilst working on a BM. I lie – the moment is not rare for me at all. But when I was 20-something (I still am, by the way, 20-something, just not that kind of 20-something), quietly enjoying my airplane flight by myself, with myself, such moments were infrequent.
So, even though I sometimes miss those days of airplane riding alone, I wouldn’t trade Z, parenthood, or the poop that comes with it, for the world. If anything, those, um, grunting, poo-ful moments have taught me to mellow out and laugh it off. What else can you do?