This past December, I took my three kids on a hiking adventure at the nature trails in our neighborhood. Everyone was in a great mood to start, but the hike ended in hysterical crying.
The whole essay, Poop Mountain, is published at Kindred Mom. In hindsight, the humor of that situation is easy to find, but at that moment it was considerably harder to pin down. Here is an excerpt. Enjoy.
My nerves were shot. It could be because my toddler’s new favorite place to play was on top of the dining room table, or because my twins perfected the art of overshooting the toilet. Whatever the reason, I knew that to not lose my mind; I needed to get the whole crew outside, pronto. The sun was shining in December, which put a smile on my face even though I cleaned pee off of the bathroom wall four times that week. Where I live in Seattle, the sunshine doesn’t always last long, so time was of the essence. I crammed my toddler into a full body rain suit, (because I have trust issues), and lovingly reminded my preschoolers to put on their rainboots for the 80 millionth time, perhaps with a little too much urgency (read: impatience).
Our Costco folding wagon, the designer handbag of mothers with multiple children, was loaded down with approximately eighty pounds of happy kids. I grabbed the handle and lumbered down the busy street to the nature trails at the end of the block. Momentum and a slight downward grade made the load a little easier. Every step a little closer to peace and further from the chaos of my house.
At the trailhead, the children jumped out of the wagon and eagerly scampered down the gravel trail amid trees, ferns, and singing birds. The whole scene was entirely saccharine and idyllic, and I breathed relief that I had found one peaceful moment. My boys announced that they wanted to hike a few hundred yards further to climb Gravel Mountain, a term they coined at two for a sad rock pile that measured maybe two feet high. Cheap entertainment. They marched down the trail like soldiers, their little sister and I left to bring up the rear. Little Sis was just excited to walk on her own two feet–without my help–just like her big brothers.
Volunteers had recently worked to improve the trail network, as evidenced by sections of fresh gravel and drainage rock in the places that were prone to flood in heavy rains. On our way to Gravel Mountain, another large pile of fist-sized drainage rock blocked the trail. Wide-eyed, as if they just spied the Paw Patrol display at Toys R Us for the first time, the boys raced ahead to scramble over the new obstacle.
Wouldn’t this be a great place to end the story with a happy-ever-after picture of all things rosy and bright? Here with my daughter, on her own two feet, proud in her accomplishments, my two boys triumphant at the top their mountain, and me beaming in adoration that my kids are so grown up and more capable now than they were a few short years ago. But that is not what happened. Something waited at the top of that rock pile that would wreck all of us, and shatter into a million hysterical pieces, the chance for that delightful moment to exist.
The best thing to crap on your plans for happiness, fulfillment, and peace is just that, a massive pile of crap.
As they climbed over the mound of rocks I heard a scream; one of the boys had tripped. I rushed to make sure he wasn’t more seriously injured and discovered that, not only was his knee covered in dog poop, it was all over his skin because of a hole in his jeans. For good measure, the poop was also curiously in the armpit of his jacket, which smeared all over my hand as I hauled him up to his feet.
Thanks for reading.
For the whole essay, head over to Kindred Mom.