A Fresh Perspective on Pee

Some days it seems all I do all day is manage bodily functions. Jesse’s wetting his pants. Claire’s distraction leading to 20 min. toilet runs. Seth’s stinky diapers. And my own frequent needs–fed by the goal of drinking a gallon of water per day for the sake of my kidneys–requiring multiple runs up the stairs for myself each day.

I know I should not be complaining. I’m lucky to have a bathroom,

lucky to have the mold problem over,

lucky to pee indoors.

I remember the bathroom situation on the homestead…Oh, my poor mother, peeing in a bucket for years, including pregnancy with her 7th child. Emptying the chamber pot every day…a whole gallon—or two–of the family’s bodily discharge, hauled across the lawn into the pit dug by hand,

hold your nose,

toss the gloppy, yellow mess,

don’t splatter your long denim dress.

Back to the pump to pump, pump, pump, swill, pour rinse water gently at the base of the perennials—that garden always was so lush with its constant, potent water supply.

And I complain about having to wipe my child’s bum? And I complain about bed-wetting when at least I have a washer and dryer on the premises and an accident never means a whole unplanned trip to the Laundromat 20 min. away?

God, forgive me. Thank you for the gift of perspective, fed by ammonia-scented memories…

All summer that first year on the homestead, while living in a tipi, we had simply used a trench in the woods.

By winter we had built a cabin, and an outhouse, but it was too cold and too far from the house in the dead of winter with the temperature dipping to 30 below. So we got creative. We couldn’t afford those beautiful, smooth rimmed enamel chamber pots we drooled over at the local antique stores,  so we used the 5 gallon bucket with a lid, which we kept on the back porch. When someone needed it, they’d either nip outside REAL quick (one learned to pee forcefully), or drag it inside and anyone else downstairs would politely avert their gaze. When the bucket was full, we’d set it next to the stove with the lid on all night to thaw it so it could be dumped the next morning.

Us girls had the modest advantage of wearing ankle length dresses that draped nicely over the bucket, completely shrouding our activities while we sat on The Pot. That’s where one of us (I won’t say who–I’m completely dispensing with names so the characters in this story can retain some semblance of their pride) was sitting one day when the neighbor man came in and had an entire conversation with the individual while she sat on the bucket. She couldn’t move, lest she reveal what she was in the middle of. Our neighbor left without a notion of what was going on, though I’m sure he wondered why she never rose to greet him!

We can laugh about it now, but these memories remind me all I have to be grateful for. Next time I feel like complaining about pee, I’m gonna remember the pee pot and thank God I have a toilet. Indoors.



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  1. says

    Oh My! The story about the neighbor just made me laugh out loud!!! :) So Funny!!!!
    I remember those day at your house. By the time I came around you have a toilet, just not running water to it.:) I Loved that cozy cabin. Sitting by the stove with you all.:)

    • Trina says

      well, yes, it’s strange–I’m strange, not you, that my best writing could come from a memory of a chamber pot. Um, yeah. Thanks, Traci!

  2. says

    Nothing like roughing it to change your perspective. I lived for quite some time without toilet paper. You learn ways to improvise.

    And the “sitting on the pot while a visitor talks with you” story… HILARIOUS.

    • Trina says

      Living without toilet paper…ok, your story totally trumps mine. IF you were to tell it. LOL