by Tiffany Carboni
MOTHER TONGUE & Other Sharp Objects
Matty was a woman of many distinguished titles. After graduating high school as an honors student, she went on to complete her master’s degree a semester ahead of schedule. She was her class valedictorian and made a brilliant speech that was revered by her esteemed professors and mentors.
Her career accomplishments were astounding. By the age of 25, she climbed up to a management position at a prestigious tech firm and became the company’s director by age 29. She and her husband were invited to every party on the circuit. She was a household name in her industry and everyone tried to woo her to competing companies offering her ungodly amounts of money. Her net worth at the age of 32 was mind-blowing, but she was missing something from her life—a family.
When she got pregnant, her company’s CEO smiled politely and congratulated her. He knew. Her work friends rejoiced for her happiness but with an undeniable undertone of glumness. They knew. Her jealous colleagues smiled with spiteful delight. They knew. For the next few months, Matty tried to convince everyone that nothing would change after she returned from maternity leave. She was convinced of it herself. Even on the day her water broke, during an important client meeting, Matty hurriedly waddled out the door apologizing for the wet leather seat but assuring everyone that she’d be back in six weeks ready to go with the project. She had no idea what the next 48 hours, let alone the next few years, would hold for her.
The answer she found out was a whole lot of poo.
Two children and a puppy later, Matty admits that her life as a part-time, work-from-home consultant has lost a bit of its sheen, is many decibels louder than before, and is really, really messy. She fought it for a while, but finally decided to embrace the fun and fulfillment for what it is, a blessing. The inordinate daily amount of poo from her three charges, however, was still something she couldn’t get over. Between the newborn, the just-barely-toddler, and the not-quite house broken dog, she felt surrounded by fecal matter.
The house constantly smelled like a gigantic shit storm. And what was worse was she stopped smelling it because it became part of her environment. It took her husband’s coming home every evening from work or her mother’s weekly visits and their melodramatic reactions to the horrible aroma for Matty to snap back into awareness of it again.
No matter how many times she cleaned the diaper pail or flushed the toilet or laundered the bed linens or steam cleaned the carpets or washed the sofa slipcovers, she felt like she was trapped under a perpetual cloud of stench. Thank God, she thought, for her being able to work exclusively via telephone and email, for she could never open her home to clients. After an argument with her husband over the matter, for which neither one of them really understood why they were arguing over crap,
Matty decided to address the taboo subject with her two best mom girlfriends—just to make sure that this was normal. “Oh sure, my kid just smeared his shit all over the crib last week,” said one mom.
“We find chunks of it all over the house thanks to our potty training toddler,” said another.
“We just call it hunting for ‘Easter eggs.’”
“Well, a couple of weeks ago,” Matty started, feeling more confident after hearing these brave confessions, “I licked a delicious-looking dollop of chocolate-caramel off my shirt sleeve only to realize it was poo. After unwrapping myself from the kitchen faucet, I looked down to see the possible culprits: the baby and the dog. I don’t know whose it was and frankly, I don’t want to.”
Phew, she thought. That felt good to finally get off her chest with people who understood her. Matty looked up to discover the horror on her girlfriends’ faces. “You…ate…shit?” they both said wide-eyed with lips snarled in disgust.
“Uh, yes,” Matty said meekly.
The friends froze in horror and gulped back their gag reflex before finally agreeing, “Guess you win the title for the Queen of Crap.”
And with that, Matty put another title into her repertoire of distinguished honors.
For more MOTHER TONGUE & Other Sharp Objects essays, visit mothertongue.onsugar.com or www.tiffanycarboni.com