Dear Not-Tired-Looking Mom,

In the five minutes it has taken you to locate your sliced fruit and kale chips, your five-year-old has nestled up beside you with a book while your one-year-old has begun fiddling contentedly with her own toes. In these same five minutes, my son, age one and a half, has run directly toward oncoming traffic, wrestled a rake from its perch, tipped over a scooter, upset a hornet, fallen off a step, shed blood, stomped his way through the deepest part of a muddy puddle and lapped up the foul-smelling water like a dog.

In five minutes, though it has seemed much longer, you have turned the page of your novel three times while I have twice removed dog feces from my shoe, repeatedly relocated my whirling dervish from a cement precipice, spoken goofily to a piece of trash for my son’s intended benefit, raced to prevent the toppling of a coffee cup, shooed away an irate hornet, and finally lifted the thrashing body of my toddling tornado to stop the continued ingestion of the puddle, the liquid content of which is — I’ve figured out by now — 100% urine.

While you have entertained your daughter’s charming question about why it is that butterflies, which flutter by, are not instead called “flutter-byes,” I have decided that this urine was definitely left here by another mother, someone like me, with sons and not daughters. I’ve concluded she committed this wild act of public elimination not because she is a certifiable loon, but because she could not piss in peace in her own home for fear that her son would take scissors to the sofa to “see what’s inside” or jump off the top stair to “see if he could fly.” The mother who urinated right here on this ground has also, like me, arrived at a stage in life where a belt worn over pajamas seems plenty dressed if it allows her to escort a son out of the house any sooner.

Finally, resigning myself to squat stance before the mom pee puddle, I have looked to your stylish footwear unsullied by excrement or blood and wondered what it is like to have thoughts and read pages and recline in the presence of your offspring. I have sought in your unperturbed face some sign of maternal camaraderie, anything to show the mildest recognition of the sweat beading across my nose due to the number of zigzag feet I have traveled, at cartoon speed, in so few minutes. But there are your private thoughts to tend to, and the amazing questions from your five-year-old to entertain, and the delightful squeals from your stunning baby to relish. And so I confess, on this stultifying humid day, I have wished it were not the least bit unseemly to ask to trade children. I’d only be gone for an hour or twelve. I could seriously use a trip to the bathroom.

— Ashley