My 3 Year Old’s Poop Incident and the Power of Choice

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My 3 Year Old's Poop Incident


Unfortunately, a rejuvenating bath is an almost impossible luxury given that I’m a Mom of a highly energetic 3 year old. But, this morning I was feeling particularly needy so, I set my daughter, Michaela, up in her room with a movie. I know, I know…but give me some slack. Michaela’s “screen time” was my only hope for getting some necessary Mommy “me time.”

As I slid in the bath I waited for a knock, a yell, a face smashed against the door asking me what I was doing. Nothing. Silence. A solid 30 minutes of pure, unadulterated bliss. My bath had taken place – no interruptions. (Thank you Walt Disney). It was a miracle.

Then, I heard a strange noise. Some light clanking and then silence. Hmm. It sounded like it was coming from the bathroom. Our tub and toilet are separated by a door from our sink and vanity. The quiet felt too quiet — the kind of quiet where all your Mom senses kick into high gear. I reluctantly got out of the bath and peeked around the corner. You’ll NEVER believe what I saw.

There was Michaela, in all of her glory, squatting over the sink…POOPING. Yes, you read that correctly — she was POOPING! FREAKING GOING POOP IN MY SINK – my sterile, happy place that I wash my face and brush my teeth.

I looked at her in shock. “Michaela, what are you doing?”

She nonchalantly replied, “Pooping mom — what do you think?” She looked at me as if to say, “duh mom!”

I took a deep — very deep — breath, and internally took about 5 seconds to coach myself. “Amy, breathe — it’s OK. It’s an empty basin – kind of resembles a toilet.”

I looked at my daughter squatting over the sink and calmly said, “Michaela, you will NEVER poop here again. Do you understand me? We only poop in the toilet.”

“But, Mom. You were in the bathroom.”

“Yes, honey, I was.”

It was at this moment that I finally, truly understood what Byron Katie meant when she said, “Love what is” in a way that I never had before. No amount of rage or upset would prevent me from having to clean up the poop and then further clean out the sink with bleach — multiple times — so I might as well embrace the situation. And, if we are willing to take a new position, entertain a new perspective, we may see something we hadn’t before.

In this case, Michaela had to poop. And she needed to make a choice about what she was going to do about it. The bathroom was being occupied and rather than poop on the floor or her pants, she chose the big basin that resembled a toilet. Pretty smart if you think about it. When I took a moment to put myself in her shoes, I realized that was an awesome choice. Quite practical.

So, today I am proud of my daughter and am going to celebrate the power of choice and perspective! Because in every moment we have a choice: A choice about how we feel, a choice about what we’ll do in the presence of those feelings, a choice about how we perceive situations and events, a choice about how we react, and a choice about our mental and physical state.

So I chose to clean up the mess with love and understanding and a sense of humor. And in the future, when I smell bleach, I’ll think of Michaela and the struggle she faced when she had to make a choice about where to poop, and how proud she was of her choice.

A version of this post originally appeared on


About the Author

Business Coach for Women, Author, Speaker, and Mom of a Threen-ager, AMY APPLEBAUM, has helped hundreds of thousands of women across the globe achieve success in their lives and businesses. To tackle the 90% failure rate of women-entrepreneurs, Amy launched the “Ambitious Women Success Club” – the first ever, on-demand business coaching platform – making it possible for women to finally get the mentorship they need, affordably. Amy is a frequent television guest, having appeared on ABC, CNN, TLC, and Martha Stewart Radio.  She has been featured/quoted in publications including: the NY Times, the Herald Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Teen, Woman’s World, and Shape. Amy is a certified Hypnotherapist with a collection of over 100 Meditation Downloads & Apps that you can find on her website, as well as traditional platforms like: iTunes, Amazon, and Audible. They have been met with 5 star reviews and bestseller status. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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