The Battle of the Poo Poo

Small Thing 2 was going to be challenging our nappy bag capacity today. I don’t know what she has eaten or caught but I did know this was going to be a tough day and it’s only 7.30am. I opt for the huge nappy bag (which I thought I had retired now Small Thing 1 is coming up to 3 and Small Thing 2 is 18 months!) with extra nappies, 2 spare sets of clothes and more than enough wipes. I will not be prevented from going out today by a pooping machine, I will be prepared, I will have foresight, my timing will be impeccable… Just a few of the lies I tell myself on the way out the door. I’m going to a Theme Park with friends. It’s a beautiful day and I will be with a bunch of people with kids of a similar age, who haven’t seen each other in forever. This IS going to be fun. It could be a nightmare but we’re in it together.

Where we’re going is miles away so I count on a nap from at least one Small Thing as they were up so early… Success! The fact this nap only lasts 20 minutes due to an unscheduled stop is entirely beside the point. I have to come off the motorway for an emergency Poo Poo in the emergency potty, kept in the car for moments such as these, and find a layby. Said Poo Poo did not materialise despite 15 minutes of Poo Poo related singing. I am queen of lyric changes according to my lovely Husband and the inventor of the “he needs the potty, potty, a poo poo is what he needs” song… Sorry Aloe Blacc but these numerous versions of your song provide my lovely Husband and I endless entertainment. After all this, it’s fair to say, it’s Poo Poo 1: Mummy 0.

I had chucked the buggy in the car at the last minute and am very pleased I did when I eventually get to the car park. It is bloody miles away from the entrance and I’m also running low on snacks due to my bottomless pit Small Thing’s. I bundle the kiddy winks into the buggy and off we march to meet everyone… Late… Obviously. And now the elusive Poo Poo decides to arrive… Oh good. I sprint back to the car as it’s closer than the park and I am elated that we make it in time for instant Poo Poo in the emergency potty. I say in the potty, I mean I catch/direct it into the potty with my bare hand whilst trying to sit him down. When did it become acceptable to my brain to catch a shit in my hand? It’s 2:0 to the Poo Poo and I am very pleased that my emergency kit with soap, water and antibacterial gel is still in the car. I have learned my lesson well… At least this time.

I have not taken into account that everyone is on their own timeline. I am not the last person there, despite our lateness (hoorah) and a few people have replenished their snacks at the overpriced shop before we’re even through the gates. My inner voice rejoices at not being alone in this. With your little group of Mummy’s you see regularly (NCT or postnatal or sing’n’sign etc), you get to know each other’s patterns and you organise accordingly… This is not that… At all. We are all out of our comfort zone. It’s a new environment, we’re avoiding the subject of nap time and scoping out the nearest toilets for the mad dash. For my fairly newly potty trained Small Thing, “Mummy, I need a wee” is an instant, right now, emergency statement. It’s actually all very calm though and really fun to catch up. The kids who can walk, play near the entrance while we wait for the stragglers and we do another wee stop for Small Thing 1. This means I can wash my hands 3 more times as well. Finally we are off! The ticket in hand, approaching the gate, all the Small Thing’s present and correct and then… ‘the Poo Poo face’. I can see (and smell) that Small Thing 2 has ensured it is Poo Poo 3; Mummy 0.

The nearest toilet is behind me (obviously!), so I reside myself to catching everyone up and turn back… So close and yet so far! We have had some doozies in our time as parents but this is like something out of a horror movie. There are not enough wipes in the world for this whopper but I have what I have. Where the fuck do I begin?! Small Thing 2 is 18 months old but this is a proper baby poo. Despite her elated look and chirpy attitude, there has got to be something wrong with her insides. I contemplate going back to the car and sacking off the whole thing but am determined not to let this beat me. There’s plenty of drinking water in the nappy bag, the remaining snacks are fibrous and nutritious (ish), I am resilient, I am resourceful, I am Mummy! I crack on with the Battle of the Poo Poo and in double-quick time (this means about 25 minutes in Mummy talk), I have used a pack and a half of wipes and transformed the pooping machine back into the beautiful Small Thing 2. Haha! It may be the second time that day that I have Poo Poo on my hands but I am victorious… It’s Poo Poo 3; Mummy 1.

Small Thing 1 has waited patiently for this ordeal to be over so he can crack on with the new expensive snacks and spills a couple (estimated cost £1.50) whilst grappling with his sister (who has a somewhat less exciting fibrous snack) as we wait to get in. We are nearly in the park so I just let it go, much to my inner voice’s dismay. Through the gate, into the park and what fun awaits! Rides, animals, playgrounds… The Small Things and all their buddies are in paradise and it has been entirely worth the ‘Battle’. Small Thing 2 has an unexpected snooze in the buggy (score!) so Small Thing 1 gets my full attention while we look at tigers and monkeys and meerkats. All is right with the world. We have done it!

“Mummy, I need more Poo Poo.”… Battle Stations! The toilets are near, but there’s no toilet in the Baby Change (very helpful, thank you!). The toilet corridor is so thin that it is pretty tough to negotiate with even my double-decker buggy. I block the corridor in desperation and throw down the shorts and big boy pants. It’s too late for the wee wee leak but just in time for the smallest Poo Poo in the world which swiftly disappears up the u-bend. Poor Small Thing 1, who hasn’t had an accident in weeks, is a little upset he didn’t make it for the wee wee but even more upset that his Poo Poo has vanished. How do you explain a Phantom Poo to a 2 year old?! I have realised mid-explanation that I’ve left his spare clothes in the car and begin digging for an alternative. Small Thing 1, seemingly satisfied with my Phantom Poo explanation, is entirely unbothered by the fact he’s going commando under his sister’s spare shorts. We wash our hands and are back to the animals, but the sight of my sweet Small boy wearing shorts with purple bows on is just too much for me. I admit defeat, the Poo Poo may have made it into the toilet this time but it’s clear that it had the moral victory (with bows on). Fine… 4:1. We say our goodbyes to the friends who have had an equally challenging day and head back for the car. The cheery staff are waving everyone off and a young girl asks Small Thing 1 what his very favourite thing was. He pauses. My inner voice repeats over and over, ‘Don’t say Phantom Poo, don’t say Phantom Poo’. Small Thing 1 is really taking his time to think his answer through which I’m hoping means it must be one of the new words he’s learnt today. “I saw Santa Poo!” he said sweetly… fucking fantastic. Poo Poo, you win by a landslide!

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“Who are you, Mummy?”

He means “How are you Mummy?”, a new concept we’re working on, but that’s really beside the point. It’s an excellent question posed by my two and half year old, Small Thing 1, and something I seem to be constantly asking myself these days. Two kids, fifteen months apart, is our version of family life/mayhem and I have gone from Charlotte Small to Mummy… Just Mummy. I used to work a lot, go out out, write music, play open mic nights, have leisurely Sunday’s at the pub playing games and drinking off the hangover, write more music. These things have morphed since becoming a parent (obviously!) but that’s not unexpected or surprising. Was this who I was or just what I did? I am now in the fortunate position where my lovely Husband works his balls off so that I can stay at home and raise our Small Things rather than going back to the job that sucked joy from my life and slowly and methodically killed my soul. I am lucky, I am thankful (majority of the time… We all have one of those ‘moments’), I am full of kid related ideas and enthusiasm (most of the time but sometimes we all just draw a blank on the NEXT thing), I am Mummy… But at the moment it feels like I am just Mummy.

At various obligatory classes, social gatherings, organised play dates (sometimes it feels like I am blind dating!) it is the same, you introduce yourself as Small Thing 1 & 2’s Mummy and that’s who you become. I say JUST a Mummy but being a Mummy is a rewarding and fulfilling occupation full of joys, fun and laughing. It is also frustrating, exhausting and lifelong, often (not always) thankless, dirty and smelly! So many of us work our arses off to have our Small Things and love every minute of it… this may be a mild exaggeration when up to your elbows in shit, puke, A.N.Other kid related fluid. We’ve all been there; the soggy bra in a supermarket where your breast pads just can’t take anymore or the grapple with your unorganised nappy bag for a muslin (the most sacred square of material in existence) whilst holding your baby and a hand full of milk vom (thank you Hungry Baby Formula for that specific fucking experience!). There are millions of these stories, many of them mine that I will no doubt write about eventually, which don’t exactly help you find your way out of the role of Mummy and back into ‘you’ but do shape the person and parent you have become.

To return to where I began, I said to Small Thing 1 “I think you mean HOW are you darling, and I am great thank you.”which made him smile before he went back to his Duplo. What I thought was not suitable for his little ears… Yes my lovely boy, who the fuck is Mummy?!