Monday is already the least favorite day of the week. Your weekend is over and you have to wake up early and head off to start your work week instead of sleeping in and relaxing with visiting family. Even more of a bummer is to realize you forgot your laptop at home and need to stop off to get it on the way to the office. The serene tranquility of the time spent at the cabin in the country comes to an abrupt halt. Adding to this rough start is the unfortunate misstep of your sandal into a camouflaged dog poop.
This was the chain of events my daughter experienced this Monday morning. Halfway up the gravel road she breathed in the recognizable smell, and then whipped the car around to come back and fix the problem. Her sandal was coated with a smear of dog doo. The foot brake and the accelerator pedal both were soiled with the offending excrement. The black floor rug wreaked. Koda and Summer were happily running around the parked cars. I looked at them and asked in a pretend angry voice, “Who did this? Who pooped out in the gravel?” I was attempting to lighten up the situation with humor. Too soon. My daughter was now running late as we rubbed a soapy cloth on the stinky foot pedals. She grabbed a different pair of shoes. Within minutes we had cleaned up the situation and she was off on her commute to work.
I returned to the cabin with my coffee and sat inside thinking about how stuff like that can happen, one unfortunate thing after another. Then all it takes is a final crappy incident to just ruin your mood on a Monday morning, or any morning for that matter. I remember juggling minor catastrophes with my four kids: my oldest son crying about losing some special toy figure, my daughter telling me at the last minute about needing something from the store for a school project, the middle son holding up something he accidentally broke with a look of “sorry, didn’t mean to,” and then the stench of a dirty diaper hits all of our noses. “Pee Yew!” The kids cry out, “The baby pooped his diaper!” This all taking place in the van on the way to a doctor appointment that I am late to. There were days that I would just collapse on the toy strewn floor and think, “I cannot handle another thing going wrong.” Then a child would projectile vomit, or cry out after pinching a finger in the door to bathroom.
When I would call my mom in California to vent about everything, she had the calm suggestion to use a mantra whenever something bad happened. The words she encouraged me to utter were, “It’s just this.” I liked her idea of not stacking up all the negativity, it sounded good to not tally up the accumulation of cruddy things. So I tried it. When I lost my car keys, “It’s just this.” A little later in the day when the washing machine broke, “It’s just this.” One of the kids had a fever, “It’s just this.” The cat got out of the house and was lost for a few hours, “It’s just this.” With each repeated mantra my voice got angrier and creepier. Instead of having the calming effect, it rattled me even more. This, this, this, now this. I laughed an evil crazy laugh by the tenth time of, “It’s just this.”
After raising four kids, a cat, an Australian Shepherd, and two Aussiedoodles, I have a different mantra that is far more effective. It is “Poop happens.” Now the first word of that phrase can be substituted with “stuff” or “crap” or anything that comes to mind. But it is the simple truth. You can be heading out to your car on a beautiful sunny day and your sandal makes contact with a smelly something. Nothing to freak out about, clean it up and move on. “Poop happens.”
*A little side note: Koda and Summer never confessed to whose poop it was and both seemed sorry for not doing their double doodle doody out in the woods, because the dude whose duty is to bag the double doodle doody was not here to do his duty.