Why I’m Thankful When I Find Poop on My Shirt

I looked down and saw poop on my shirt. Oh. Yes, it was on my jeans too. Too bad I was already in the car on the way to pick up my big kids from school. It was too late to turn around. So I just went with it.

I’d changed the bedding, scrubbed the carpet and changed her clothes twice already. After the second “poop massacre” of the day, I felt tears creep into the corners of my eyes. Yep, I was feeling sorry for myself. This wasn’t how I wanted to spend the day.  

Then she smiled at me. And my perspective changed.

I thought about the poop. I may be cleaning up poop for the rest of my life. But as long as the poop is here, that means she is here. Smiling. And as long as she is here, I will love taking care of her. I mean it. I love taking care of her.

It was then I was reminded… a happy life is totally dependent upon perspective. A poopy shirt means my daughter is alive and well. Having to prepare meds five times a day means she is here. If she were gone, I promise you I would miss these things so much. It takes a daily attitude adjustment to get my perspective in its proper place.  

It got me thinking about other things in life — how they can jolt things into perspective too.

My husband’s clothes left on the bathroom floor. It means he’s here. He’s fun, full of love and uninhibited. He balances me out so well.

My child cannot walk. It means I can cuddle with her for the rest of my life. And she doesn’t wiggle to get away.

My child cannot talk. I get to imagine all the beautiful things she would say to me if she had the words. And my imagination never includes sass.

Hospital visits. They allow me to come in contact with incredibly loving, selfless compassionate people. And they allow me to watch God at work.

Even the betrayal of a friend. It makes true, loyal friends look spectacular and makes me adore them even more. I’ll never let go of them.

With almost every circumstance, there’s a blessed silver lining. It can be seen with a quick, intentional shift in perspective.  

It was no coincidence that after mulling over these thoughts, I read the following passage:

“Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness. Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands.  Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity.”  — “Savor” by Shauna Niequist

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I’m thankful for my poopy shirt. It gave me a shove back into place. It’s a place where I’m on an all-out search, despite the splinters of sadness, for all of the richness and beauty of raising a child with a disability.

Do you have a story about your experience with disability or disease? Maybe a moment that made a big impact on you? Please send it to [email protected] and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. Thanks!

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