Shit is the word that comes to mind when I think of motherhood. Now, before you stop reading…please hear me out first. I myself feel uneasy when it comes to making that statement, especially since I lived 26 years before saying my first cuss word. Younger me would have been appalled at the thought of an expletive and my children being mentioned in the same sentence. Nevertheless, I was taken aback by motherhood, despite being married seven years before my first was born. I wasn’t ready for it to be so dynamic–extremely hard and uncomfortable but also utterly and completely worthwhile and beautiful.
Motherhood came with a lot of literal shit, but what surprised me was how beautiful I found it to be. Discussions about poop, pee, and farting became so normal and evoked such laughter and joy for our entire family.
I didn’t expect to feel excitement upon hearing my delighted child proudly ask, “Want to see my poop?” and chase after her to the toilet to see what she had left there. Or that farting in the bathtub would never cease to make us giggle.
I didn’t expect to find joy in diaper changes. As my daughter watched a line of pee shoot right up her shirt, nearly spraying her face, she erupted in an outpouring of giggles and the largest smile as she helped me change my son’s diaper one day. She still brings it up and loves to tell the story.
I didn’t expect to laugh uncontrollably at poop overspills. An explosion of poop blasted out of our 3-month-old son’s diaper all over my husband’s nice shirt just as he made a snarky comment. I thought, “Justice!” and laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe.
The humor and lightheartedness of bodily functions helped me get through the harder moments of motherhood. They brought me a laugh in times when I could have easily broken down crying instead. Laughter aided in coping with the discrepancies that motherhood revealed in my life. I needed to laugh. I needed to laugh at myself. I needed to laugh in the midst of my imperfections.
Motherhood is hard. Like really hard, and I didn’t expect that. Maybe it was because no one talked about the hard stuff or perhaps because I wasn’t already in a circle of friends with children. Regardless, it broke me down. Along with all the joy and love and celebration, motherhood also revealed the shit within me that I didn’t know was there: my imperfections, vices, weaknesses, character flaws, insecurities, and my need for validation or acceptance in order to have value. At times all of this brought deep shame, scary guilt, heavy depression, loss of self, or even panic attacks.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother, and I love my children more than it is possible to express, but I cannot pretend that this other side of motherhood does not exist. Motherhood comes with challenges and struggle. It seems that the harder we try to keep it all together and hide the things we are ashamed of, our internal shit always finds a way of manifesting itself. What if we brought all of it into the light before it has a chance of pouring out? What if our road to healing starts with laughing at and embracing the literal mess? Maybe then we could learn to laugh and embrace our internal mess as well. Maybe we could find more ways to laugh through hardship together and in turn, find more joy along the way. Maybe shit can be beautiful too. And maybe sharing it, as gross as that sounds, can be healing and even more beautiful.
Breanna Lowman is a wannabe artist who glories in the imperfect, a traveler who adores new cultures, a writer who values authenticity, a free spirit once bound by insecurity and performance, and a busybody learning to rest in the simple and mundane. Traveling to 9 countries and living in China for nearly five years opened her eyes to the world and changed her life. She is a wife to a wonderful and caring husband (Chris), a mother to two beautiful children (Ru and Ryker), and a follower of Jesus. She is currently living with her family in Monterey, California. You can connect with her on her blog or Facebook.