For the past month or so (maybe three months, if we're honest), my living room has smelled like pee.
That's right. Pee.
And it's not because we're total slobs living in a mess of our own creation....
Well...maybe we are living in a mess of our own creation, but when your husband works full time plus part time, you have two 4 year old boys, and you're trying to finish up a Ph.D, run a ministry project part time, and run a blog and a network marketing business semi-regularly, then...well...sometimes let's just say that all the crumbs don't get swept up all the time.
But that's not the reason for the living room pee smell.
The reason: potty training.
Now before I had kids who had reached the potty training age...
And warning to mothers of tiny boys: boys train later than girls. If you have a friend with a girl who was trained at 18 months (miracle of miracles!), know that that probably won't be you. Boys tend to potty train closer to 4 years old. A lesson I learned the hard way. (I also learned that you can't potty train a kid until they're ready. I learned that one the hard way too.)
But back to before I had these potty training kids: I figured that it would just be about wet underwear and wet pants and mopping up pee on the floor.
No big deal.
The thing is: it's not.
It's about pee on the couch that you don't realise until you sit in it.
It's about pee on the mattresses that will certainly have to be thrown out once the kids finally master this night training thing.
(My kids have insisted - insisted! - on wearing underwear at night even though they don't wake up when they have to pee.)
And the best part: one of my little guys is at that stage where he knows that he has to pee, and he feels it coming, but then he simply chooses to pee on the floor (or the couch) instead of in the potty because he didn't want to stop driving his toy truck.
And so: my living room smells like pee.
I've cleaned it. I've washed the couch covers. I've sprayed the couch cushions.
(Maybe I need to stuff the whole darned couch into the washing machine? Or the bath tub? Or take it outside and spray it with a hose? Or burn it and just use plastic lawn chairs?)
I've washed the floors. I've sprayed the play mat.
But I still find myself walking around my living room, sniffing randomly like a maniac, trying to find the source of that pee smell.
(It's super fun when I'm doing this, I stick my nose on a couch cushion, and discover the new pee stain, by the way...)
I've even developed this strange mom sensation that borders on a scent-hallucination that I now call "phantom pee".
We were at the car dealership the other day (the "car doctor"), getting the oil changed. With the kids, of course. And we were walking around the place, checking out new cars (we were thinking about trading ours in for something that costs less per month) when suddenly I do that crazy mom sniffing thing.
"I smell something," I say automatically. Sniff sniff sniff.
"Did somebody pee?"
And of course, we're out in public while I'm doing this. Standing right next to people without potty training children who are maybe thinking that I've completely lost it by now.
So I check the first boy. Dry.
I check the second boy. Also dry.
Well...I bet it's not the new cars that smell like pee.
Quick self-check to make sure I'm not wearing something that was previously peed on and forgotten about. Nope. Not me.
"Huh." Says me.
"Maybe it's phantom pee." And of course, this is when I coined the term and thought it was hysterical.
And of course, no one else got the joke.
And it sure was.
Phantom pee: a phenomenon where a mom of potty training kids starts to smell pee randomly because she's become so accustomed to random pee smells from boys who would rather race cars than run to the toilet.
And now, again, back to my living room which I figure will forever smell like pee until I thrown out all the furniture and completely and professionally sterilize the house.
What I've learned from this mom moment: Sometimes life gives you pee. And it's really no big deal.
My kids are healthy, and smart, and caring individuals. My house is not a total and complete disaster. (Yes, there are hot wheels everywhere all of the time. But also I have managed to find all of the old, petrified cheesy crackers and thrown them out before they become an ant problem. Mom win.)
We've learned quite quickly to not care what other people think (you learn this lesson much faster with twins than with singletons), especially about the little things.
Because in the grand scheme of things: pee happens. You clean it up. You move on with life. And if you're couch smells for a while, you're still doing pretty stinking awesome.