Sunday, August 9, 2015

Toxic Accumulation

Let us refer to the period from the 1920s to 1965 as the Golden Age of the modern American housewife. This will save me from repeatedly referring to those specific decades. When you see the words Golden Age from now on, you will know what I mean!

What I have been thinking about today is the multivalent character of toxic accumulation. This is my umbrella term for the various ways in which we have not only too much, but too much of the wrong stuff and not enough of the good things in life. The many ways in which we are over-burdened, over-scheduled, cluttered, and blocked are destroying our health and our serenity. We are a society slowly but surely killing ourselves. And in some mysterious way, it all comes down to honesty.

The phrase "full of poop" comes to mind, more often using an expletive, but I'm trying to be polite. We say someone is full of poop when he is not being honest. Maybe he is outright lying, or exaggerating, or we perceive him to be self-deceived. Now think about being full of poop in the literal sense. What is the cause of constipation?

When my daughter Beezy was a toddler, she was afraid of poop. At age three she was potty trained in terms of peeing in the toilet, but she would only poop in a pull up, and evidently she was holding her poop in. This resulted in a chronic case of constipation, a very painful condition. For over a year we made trips an hour away to a poop specialist, and Beezy had to stay on prescription Miralax. Occasionally she still has recurring bouts of extreme constipation. According to the doctor, such cases of children who are afraid of poop and experience these consequences are not unusual.

So where is the dishonesty in this case? It's hidden in the adult response to potty training. In our hurry up world, parents are pressured by the media and people in their daily lives to make sure that their children do not get "behind" in any way. There is a rush to wean from breastfeeding, to walk, to use the "big girl" potty, to read not only Dick and Jane, but Shakespeare. Children feel the stress of their parents acutely. Due to outside pressure, I told my daughter at one point that she must use the toilet to poop, that I would not put a pull up on her anymore. She went four days without a bowel movement. Worried, I called a nurse, who encouraged me to let her poop in the pull up in order to avoid a trip to the emergency room. I was relieved to have not only a voice of reason supporting me, but an "expert".  I knew no one would argue with the nurse, and I was right.

Ignoring a child's needs and hurrying developmental milestones is dishonest. It is denying the truth of who the child is and what is natural to expect of him. Bucking under outside pressure instead of trusting your motherly instincts and feminine intuition is dishonest. We do not do the thing that we know we should do. When I become constipated, it is because I have been dishonest with myself. I have continued to eat food that is unhealthy, or failed to get adequate exercise. Perhaps I've drunk too much coffee and not enough water. I sometimes ignore my body's signals that I'm becoming ill. When I do make the effort to go to the farmers market, and I increase my intake of fruits and vegetables, what was stuck inside finally gets released. And then I have to admit to myself that I have toxic accumulation that negatively effects the quality of my life.

There are many forms of toxic accumulation, and this is a theme I will continue to explore in the coming week. In the Golden Age of the modern American housewife, I think there was a lesser occurrence of such factors. Contemporary efforts to simplify life are directly tied to eliminating toxic accumulation. So how is your stomach feeling today?  


  1. Good post! Just to share in terrible potty training stories. I had a very difficult time potty training my oldest, so when my very together neighbor was going to potty train her son, I thought I'd potty train my son (my second child) at the same time. This woman swore she had a one day full proof system, so we did it together and her son painlessly was potty trained in a day and my son developed terrible constipation for the next year. It was HORRIBLE. I have five kids and I have no idea how they got potty trained. I am terrible at it!!! The great thing is eventually kids just wanna use the big potty, so really there is no need to push.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing that, Faith! I think we mothers are given the perhaps erroneous impression that we have to "do" something specific in the area of potty training. But like you said, kids will just want to use the big potty, just like they want to walk and talk and everything else. I think it's a good idea to put a child sized potty in the bathroom to use before their bodies are big enough, and there are also those small seats you can put over the big one. That facilitates the process without any pressure. You show them what it is and how to use it. They see us using the toilet, they decide they want big boy underwear, and somehow it all works out. Did you have to use the prescription laxative with your son as well?

  2. As a former constipated seven-year-old Suzuki violin prodigy, I appreciate this post! When I think too of what I put myself and children through potty-training, it just seems ridiculous. I let my old-school German mother-in-law influence my thinking, which I deeply regret. Thank God I've lightened up before homeschooling them!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Imelda! Constipation is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about, and perhaps it needs to be discussed more openly! Remember that hindsight is 20/20, and we all have listened to advice that we wish we hadn't. Now, as you said, we have a chance to learn from our mistakes and do things in a different way. Thanks be to God!


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