Some things are hard to unsee.
When I was in kindergarten, our teacher had us all draw pictures of our mothers for Mother’s Day.
I was never, by any stretch of the imagination, a visual artist and probably scribbled an oval with some chicken legs so I could get back to my real life’s work — inhabiting the dramatic play area where I spent countless hours talking to myself, creating elaborate backstories and alienating myself from the other children. And yes, not much has changed.
I don’t remember what the other kids drew or if their mothers also bore a striking resemblance to poultry. nor do I recall the nice things they dictated to our sweet dough-faced teacher, Mrs. Walters. What I do remember in detail is Shawn Shelby’s portrait of his mom, Sheila.
For your own frame of reference, Shawn Shelby was this shy little boy who spent most of his time staring out an open window and sniffing glue sticks. So when he stood up in front of the class and unleashed a very detailed, somewhat graphic portrait of his mother sitting on the toilet, (naked), I’m sure Mrs. Walters was reasonably concerned that all that glue had gone to his head or that maybe there was a reason this poor boy was practically catatonic.
Either way, I couldn’t help thinking about Mrs. Shelby in her birthday suit, likely just trying to get two minutes to take a crap by herself when my son asked me for the 17th time in an hour if my boobs were still broken.
Be horrified. Judge me. Write me off as completely insane. I just stopped nursing and yes, he’ll be three in October. How did this great ban on milk come to pass, you ask?
I’ll give you the short version: I’m old, or on the older side, to have an almost-three year-old, and I’m tired, mostly of my breasts looking like yesterday’s pancakes. And also, he’s a talker, (my son) and it’s fine, mostly, if he’s gabbing at the snack table about whatever it is almost-three-year-olds gab about … boogers, Goldfish, why everyone’s hands are so sticky.
But you know what’s probably not fine? Milk your mom makes, that you drink from her bubbas.
And listen, it’s a given all the other preschool moms love me. I’m at least a decade older and don’t own a Peloton and truly, it’s not about the peer pressure. No one’s forcing me to put my boobs away. Believe me. But sometimes you just know. It’s time.
Like the other day, while I myself was trying to have my own Mrs. Shelby moment, but then someone else decided it was time to defecate — not in his diaper of course, (that would be too easy), but right there in front of me on the floor with two matchbox cars in hand that he promptly dropped into his prized poop, just as my younger daughter waltzed in modeling what I can only describe as the white dress Alicia Silverstone wore in Clueless that she was for sure going to Starbucks wearing because I wasn’t “about to body-shame her … was I?” Because it’s not her fault she’s so “arrestingly attractive” and besides, she has to get out of this “Draconian hell hole” I “call a house” if “even for an hour because … are you seriously picking up the phone while I’m talking to you?”
My older daughter was calling to tell me the world was ending. I could hardly make out the words or where one word ended and the next sob began as she took me through — hands in the air — the fastest rollercoaster of emotions since what basically sounded like every episode of “90210”/”Melrose Place” and, lo and behold, “Wait, you’re crying over a TV show?”
My younger daughter grabbed the phone. “She’ll call you back later.” Click. “You know, today was supposed to be about me. This was my self-care day. A day to care for myself and you’re seriously like, ruining it with your noise and — omigod … is that poop on the floor? I’m moving out. I can’t live here anymore!”
She started to storm out the door then stopped, scrolling through her phone. “Hey, when’s a good time for me to go get like a hot stone … or Swedish?”
I looked down at the poop car crime scene.
“When you’re like 40 and have blue, plaid Bandaids on your boobs. How about then?”
My son looked up at me, smiling and took some not pooped-on cars over to the bathtub, dropping them one by one into the water and then I heard something like, “Mommy has boo-boos on her bubbas … no more milk for Elliot … mommy poops … Elliot poops … Sissy moving out … expletive, expletive, expletive…”
And that was the moment I realized, I am Mrs. Shelby.
So my apologies to those lucky three’s class teachers, probably busy prepping your classrooms for the new school year as I write this. I guess in fairness, it’s a good thing his drawing skills are still pretty limited but nonetheless, it might be a good idea to hide the glue sticks and seat him away from open windows. Some things are hard to unsee.
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.