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62 weeks | It’s all in how you look at it | no. 0056
This morning I was about fifty-nine percent committed to taking the munchkin to story time. I had been feeling bad that we weren’t reading enough books to him everyday, and that I had not been making much of an effort to attend our library’s programs. The other forty-one percent of me was of the mind that with all the books in our house, and all the books-on-tape that I play (yes, just like my mother), and all the newspapers he yanks out of his father’s hands, surely the critical message that “reading is fundamental” was sinking in just fine to his 14 month old brain. I mean seriously, he chews on at least one novel a day. Did I really need to be worried?
But then there’s the whole socializing with other babies thing that he misses out on when I don’t take him to these children’s events. I understand why this is important, yet it’s still a challenge for me to follow through on going. So today when I woke up feeling better than yesterday, the awful stomachache finally gone, I was optimistic we might eat breakfast, get dressed, and actually get to the library before they sung the good-bye song.
What happened next was completely unexpected. I went to sit on the toilet. The munchkin started deconstructing the bathroom, per usual. While I waited for everything to finish, I planned out our sequence of events, mentally chose our outfits, and calculated which bus would get us there on time. But the success of all these things was contingent on one small, but mighty, factor: the toilet must flush.
It didn’t flush. In fact, the water and its contents rose upwards to the rim instead. I hadn’t even thoroughly cleaned myself off, but my more immediate concern was keeping the munchkin away from the toilet. He has recently discovered the wonders of sticking his fingers into the bowl. Once he was safely consumed with emptying the trash bin, I looked into the horror of the mess I had made. The absence of the plunger we had yet to buy was startlingly apparent.
My old anxieties of living in a space with only one bathroom began to murmur through my thoughts. I had always grown up in places with more than one toilet. As an adult, I realized I genuinely felt more relaxed whenever there were multiple restrooms wherever I went. There is something so distressing to me about having to share a single lavatory, being dependent on everyone else to leave it in working order for you when it’s your turn. But who was in here last?
So then naturally I thought of my partner. I imagined it would be such an unpleasant homecoming to find a foul, overflowing toilet when he came in from work. It wasn’t even a matter of me being embarrassed or grossing him out. One of our first in-depth conversations was literally about the ideal shape of bowels in a healthy elimination–his topic, not mine. But anyway you slice it, a backed up toilet is hectic for whoever has to deal with it.
I knew he would be calling soon during his morning break to see how the munchkin and I were doing. I thought of how to break the news to him about the toilet. I could say: “Good news, bad news.” And then, if he asked for the good news first, I’d say: “That stomach issue I had all day yesterday is over. I’m healed!” Then for the bad news, I could say: “The one toilet we have is stopped up and I can’t get it to flush!”
No one would ever call me handy around the house, but for some reason, I just felt determined to handle this. I charged myself with getting this toilet back on its feet by the time the munchkin’s dad got home. Of course by now, this meant there was no way we were going to story time. Bummer. I just couldn’t leave this situation for him to come home to. There had to be a way I could fix this.
My initial strategy was a total failure. Only the munchkin witnessed it. And when I next called my mother to lament about my toilet troubles, and when she then suggested I speak to my father about what to do, I didn’t tell either of them about the unfortunate fate of a certain wire hanger.
My father said, “You need two things, ammonia and a plunger.” I told him we didn’t have a plunger. He said, “That’s a problem. You need two things, ammonia and a plunger.” I agreed with him that it was indeed ridiculous that we hadn’t gotten a plunger by now. He explained how to use the ammonia. I did as he instructed and waited, but when I went to flush again, it still didn’t clear. I repeated the process, but still, no luck.
I called my mother back and she suggested I pour extra water in with another bucket as I’m flushing, to increase the water pressure going down the drain. After I attempted her method twice without success, I was feeling like my mission to resolve this before my partner got home was a wash.
Just before giving up, I decide to try one more time. I fill the metal wash bin that I’ve been using to augment the water when flushing. This time, I double the amount of water. The munchkin is really revved up by this point because the faucet in the tub roars as water comes out and that his favorite part of getting a bath. He squeals in delight as I carefully lift the bin to the opening of the toilet. I am trying to hold him back from getting any closer, but I need one hand to push the flush, and the other to balance the bin. As I simultaneously flush and empty the bin, the munchkin reaches both of his hands into the clean water, causing it to rush out faster than I had intended. Water spills everywhere, but most of it makes it into the toilet.
I give up trying to pull the munchkin back from the excitement. Who wouldn’t want to see the lovely swirl of the toilet carrying waste matter away? Magically, the toilet is finally cleared. The irony is laughable. I am always trying to keep him out of the bathroom, but without his “help,” the toilet might still very well be clogged. Today’s conundrum reminds me that perspective is everything. The munchkin constantly inspires me to look at a thing from many angles.
I clean up all the excess water and restore the bathroom to its pre-catastrophe state. I wash the munchkin off and dry him. I breathe a sigh of accomplishment that I have managed this spectacular feat before my partner comes homes. And it only took me about 3 hours.
With the bathroom festivities at their end, and the munchkin’s next nap time nowhere in sight, I start out on our next adventure. I am repurposing a bag of brown lentils to turn out as something other than soup. I am forgoing any recipe because I’m afraid if I look one up, I won’t have all the required ingredients and then I’ll be greatly discouraged and then be forced to make the soup I don’t want in the first place. But with my recent toilet victory under my belt, I’m feeling quite confident that these lentil “balls” (think falafel, only…not at all technically what would ever be identified as falafel) will come out edible, tasty even.
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.