Projectile Poop and the Meaning of Life

Nicholas Fair Nowak
A Parent Is Born
Published in
3 min readMay 27, 2021

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

Here’s an attempt to explain how becoming a parent changes everything. I was on the mid-morning shift with my three-week old daughter, so around 6:00–9:00 AM — not to be confused with first morning (12:00–3:00), early morning (3:00–6:00), or late morning (9:00–12:00). After trying all of my best moves to get her to stop crying, she pooped her pants. Sorry, Shea, but that gave me hope.

I took her to the upstairs changing table (a pad on the desk) and got to work. Though I had grown wary of the sneaky mid-change pee, I was unprepared for my first projectile poop. Shea sent a glorious blast of green and yellow baby feces a couple of feet across the desk and into two cups of pens and pencils. Thereafter, she resumed screaming.

I changed her diaper and warmed up a bottle and wiped down the cups and cleaned the poop off each pen and pencil and then dried them by rolling them on a paper towel while Shea let me know via wailing that she wanted some milk au naturel.

To provide additional context, all of this was interrupting a self-initiated mental retreat. My intention that morning was to devise a short and powerful statement that explained the essence of my passion project, GoodMenders (rejected ideas included: not your typical men, on the mend, and good for you). As I vaulted between worlds of mindfulness and panic, determination and desperation, I realized that one realm was absent: anger.

Once it was all quiet on the baby front, the remarkableness of the moment struck me like the view from a mountaintop. Substitute nearly any other person for my daughter under the same circumstances, and I would have been positively irate. I laughed when she defecated on two cups full of pens and pencils. Everything does change when you become a parent, but only in the sense that you gain a new lens for experiencing the meaning of life:

I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought…

Nicholas Fair Nowak
A Parent Is Born

Dad, husband, educator, camp guy, founder of — building better culture, masculinity, and leadership. Medium profits support educational equity.