Fart cannons, a relentless urine smell, and vomit sounds just for fun. This is the soundtrack to my life as a mom raising boys.
Humor Parenting

In Which I Find Myself Surrounded by Body Fluids and Gases

Fart cannons, a relentless urine smell, and vomit sounds just for fun. This is the soundtrack to my life as a mom raising boys.

By Joanna Owusu

It was an ordinary weekday afternoon, and I had just finished reading to my sons after they got home from school. Reenergized after a snack, they started frolicking and horsing around, as little boys are wont to do. And then I heard the words come out of my mouth. “No fart cannons in the house!! You can make a fart cannon outside.” (And bring an extra pair of underwear with you while you’re at it, I should have said.)

I’ll spare you the details, but the fart cannon involved counting down and attempting to, ahem, fire off a cannonball sound.

This was the latest in a string of incidents that had me questioning my place in life. Changing diapers is part of the gig with a baby, as we all know. But an unidentified floating object in the bathtub with the baby? And when a stomach bug struck our house and I’m fighting waves of nausea, my little boys cannot refrain from passing gas in our common airspace. Is this really my life?

One little boy has a gut that is not quite right—is it lactose intolerance? Gluten sensitivity? Who could say! We’ve kept food diaries and carefully monitor his intake of possible dietary offenders. And still, that child can pass gas on demand with a force and resonance that’s astounding. And revolting. And greatly delights all of his friends.

Don’t get me started on my sons’ bathroom. I’d like to bring in a biochemist to explain to me how, in the name of all that’s holy, their bathroom ALWAYS smells like urine. Hours after it’s been scoured with harsh cleaning agents, the smell returns. It must have permeated the tile and bathroom fixtures. I thank my lucky stars their bathroom is outfitted with dark tile and dark grout to mask the damage.

And have these boys taught my one-year-old daughter to make a throw-up noise? Yes, yes they have. It wasn’t entirely intentional, but she heard them do it and quickly realized they laughed and paid rapt attention to her when she copied them. So now she retches away.

She’s absolutely going to be the girl that defies ladylike standards and burps and farts freely. I feel like I should apologize for this. But the truth is, I’m bursting with pride. Let’s topple the patriarchy, one fart at a time.

My husband says I have a 12-year-old boy’s sense of humor. The food poisoning scene in Bridesmaids? Jerry’s “fart attack” in Parks & Rec? Any Saturday Night Live sketch that involves passing gas? I’m laughing so hard I wake the kids up.

I guess I’ll buckle up and keep riding the (brown) tide that is parenthood. I’ll keep buying little boys’ underwear in bulk, and the gallon-size Clorox and Febreze. There’s not much dignity to be had, I think to myself as I hurry to exit the room after my sons’ latest display of flatulence. But I think I’m living my best life.


About the Author

Joanna McFarland Owusu is a freelance writer and editor. A federal government analyst in a former life, Joanna now spends her days wrangling two tween-age sons and a preschool daughter.