Just a few days after my son was born, I was in my kitchen, having survived another sleepless night. I was a terrified, elated, clueless new mother. I held the coffee pot under the faucet and turned it on. I was so looking forward to a cup of good coffee, not that hospital crap. As the pot filled, I leaned over the counter, looking out the window at the sunny April day, at the white cotton ball blossoms on my cherry tree.
And then I felt it, the trickle down my leg. At first I thought I was bleeding. But unfortunately that was not the case. The sound of the running water had combined with my beat up birth body to produce a perfect urinary storm. By the time I figured out what was happening, it was too late to do anything but stand there and finish peeing on my kitchen floor as my coffee pot overflowed.
That is when I realized that when a baby leaves your body, so does your dignity. Eight years later it has yet to return. Sure, my body recovered, but babies turn into children. And they ensure that ‘dignity recovery’ is impossible. My son has patted my stomach and asked me if I’m having a baby, has touched my hair and proclaimed it the consistency of hay, recommending I buy that cream he saw on tv so people would want to touch it. Just this week when I walked by him, he patted my butt and said, “You have a nice, big heiney, Mama.”
It could be worse. I could be my husband.
The poor man is constantly mistaken for our children’s grandfather. He does not look old. But he has a bushy grey beard. One time we were in the mountains and he was sitting on the front porch with our kids when some hikers came by and said, “Enjoying the grand kids this weekend?”
Another time, our daughter had a two year old meltdown during a weekend breakfast out, so my husband took her outside to cool down. As he was carrying her to the parking lot, a couple walked by and one of them said, “Take it easy on her Grandpa!” We laugh and cringe over these stories and I credit my husband for refusing to buy ‘Just for Men‘ to cover up all that grey.
The best dignity-stealing moment is one I never saw. I was merely an aural witness. My husband and I had been gardening with our kids, who were two and four at the time. I went in the house first so I could shower, and when they came in, a head-to-toe muddied mess, he offered to put them in the shower with him.
I was delighted. I sat on the couch and picked up a magazine, something I never got to do in the middle of the day.
As I flicked through the pages, I heard some rumblings coming from the cracked bathroom door. I didn’t think anything of it. Our house was constant toddler cacaphony. Then I heard my husband telling them “No” pretty loudly. Then more scuffling. Then a lot of muffled talk followed by another, louder ‘No!” I turned the page and smiled. He was a braver man than me. I would never get in the shower with two toddlers.
And at just about that time he yelled, “Alright! The next one of you that touches my penis is getting a time out!”
Way to tell ’em, Grandpa.