Hi, my name is Nicole, and I’m a pee-pee dancer.
I can’t be alone on this one. Whenever, in the course of my mothering, I’ve needed to take care of a child’s needs — opening a pesky bag of fruit snacks or catching her vomit midstream — I’ve also needed to pee. I’ve needed to, but I haven’t. That is, I choose to hold my urine until such time as the dam bursts.
This all began in my own childhood, of course, where the seeds of habit bloom into reasons to seek therapy.
I have put off urinating since forever, choosing not to go but to stay glued to any social or entertainment scene lest I miss something. Family gatherings? What if the adults start gossiping and I miss it? Is there anything more tantalizing to a child than hearing Aunt Barb slip that she’s never liked her sister’s husband?
Go during prime time? Even at commercial breaks? Never. I chose to wiggle through the urgency, sitting with my heel pressed into my “zone” so that the pressure from my bladder wouldn’t cause a leak. I didn’t want to miss the Tootsie Roll commercial: “Whatever it is I think I see, becomes a Tootsie Roll to me.”
You’d think, as I stand in my own kitchen finishing the dishes, twisted at the waist in a stationary anti-rain dance, I’d have learned by now to just go. I’m 37, after all. And I have four impressionable pee-pee dancers. It’s not enough to trot the old “do as I say, not as I do.”
But there’s a psychology to withholding your waste that I think is especially particular to mothers. We all know that mothers are the last to sit down to dinner, the first to get up in the middle of the night. It’s long been the purview of the mothering set to put their needs, even peeing, at the end of a list of other people’s needs.
The time when this habit of mine was most ridiculous was when my children were infants. In what world is it preferable to change the diaper of a screaming infant, safe and secure in his crib, before first emptying your distended bladder? The 45 seconds it would have taken me to pee would have prevented my wild jungle dancing at the crib side, rushing through a diaper changing, leaving my infant half clothed with a loosely fitted Pampers on, while I sprinted to beat a leak.
If I could travel back in time and tell me a little something, it would be this: Pee first.
I can’t save myself the damage I’ve done to my urinary system. It’s too late for my abused bladder. But maybe I can save the new mothers of the world.
Ladies, people will tell you lots of things you simply must do as a new mom. They'll tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps (a pipe dream, unless you have a full-time nanny, give it up now or suffer disappointment). They'll say, "don’t forget to take care of yourself, crying never killed anyone." True that babies rarely suffer permanent damage from crying, but show me a new mom who can take a shower while her baby wails in the other room (or in the same room, trapped in an infant car seat but within soapy arm’s reach of mom), and consider this a relaxing, rejuvenating cleansing.
No, there’s only one bit of advice that I can give you that you can actually follow through on with little trouble. Pee first. You’ll be more efficient because you won’t rush through a nursing session just to get to the toilet, or, worse yet, find yourself on the toilet while nursing. Pee first because there’s something off-putting about watching mom stir the mac n’ cheese with her legs tightly crossed. Pee first because the alternative is a lifetime of slightly damp panties every time you take a class at the gym, run around the backyard with the kids or laugh a little too hard.
Pee first because, if nothing else, you’ve earned it, mom.