Okay, here’s an utterly GROSS bit of childhood trivia. I had trouble pooping when I was a kid, and I would hide the fact from my mother as long as I could because I’d rather hurt than endure the solution. Eventually, though, Mama always noticed. She was a nurse, unafraid of bodily functions, so she would solve my problem with an enema. I would beg, plead and cry, but she’d get that enema bulb out and go to town.
Have you ever had one? Particularly as a child, when you have no control over the water temperature, the volume of water, or the situation in general? It’s misery.
The hard part was lying on the bathroom floor, butt cheeks clamped together, trying desperately not to expell the water until she said I could go. It felt like I was clenching against a firehose.
I don’t know how many enemas I had over the years. Dozens? Hundreds? It seemed like it happened all the time. I’m sure it was necessary, but it was painful and humiliating and messy, and it felt like such an intrusion.
It doesn’t feel right to say that the problem was due to me being quite literally anal retentive. I really don’t think it was psychological. Instead, I think a lot of the constipation was due to my diet. I lived on cheese. I ate cheese toast for breakfast, washed down with chocolate milk, and I had pimiento cheese sandwiches for lunch every single day because they were my favorite. It was hard enough for me to go to the bathroom that when I stayed with my maternal grandmother, she would make me squat on the toilet seat to make it easier to poop.
I grew out of the problem eventually, probably because I learned to expand my diet. But as a parent myself these days, it baffles me that my mother didn’t address the cause of the problem rather than the business end of it. She knew better. It was just easier to deal with the symptom than be firm about the cause.
Completely unrelated note: Two of my mother’s favorite swears when I was growing up were, “You little shitass,” and “Shit on you.” Hmm. (To be fair, she also said, “Oh, foot!” instead of the F-bomb.)