Every parent has that benchmark with which they measure their day-to-day success as a mom or dad. For some, it's a successful nap. For others, it could be five servings of vegetables. For me, it's pooping.

If it were up to me, age would be a factor of poop, not years. Is your child 3 years old? No, he's 1,345 poops old. Time is nothing but an arbitrary man-made unit that reflects nothing of significance. Who cares when the sun came up last? What I want to know is when did you poop last? One poop cycle is like one stroke of an engine. Fuel enters, it's consumed, then the waste product is expelled. One poop equals one round of being a functioning human being. For both my kids, I could never relax for the day until they pooped. A successful poop meant that I was fulfilling my responsibility of keeping my offspring functioning properly as human organisms. It meant I earned another first down in the game of life.

"Look, Fury grew his first tooth!"

"That's great! By the way, did he poop yet?"

* * * *

By the time the moving vans rolled up to our house 10 days ago, everything was boxed up and ready to go. While leaving Los Angeles was something I promised myself I'd do as soon as I had kids, the act of selling our house and buying a new one in a small farm town six hours north took 9.5 years of procrastination and merely two weeks of execution.

Logistically, everything was perfect. Sudden, but perfect.

Who are you guys and what have you done to my room?

I don't know about you, but I'm gonna get every last minute of Minecraft in before they drag me outThe movers showed up by 10 am and got to work wrapping all the furniture. Our cars were packed with everything we needed for the drive up, we had exchanged goodbyes with our friends, sent out change of address cards, and in a matter of a few short hours, we'd be pulling out of our driveway for the last time.

"Did Lessi poop yet?"

No, she hadn't. She hadn't pooped the day before, either. And with each dolly-load up the truck ramp, visions of an agonizing 6.5 hour constipated upstate trek alternated with doomsday scenarios of Lessi filling her diaper with mega poop somewhere in the middle of the California desert miles away from the closest Koala Bare Kare diaper changing station. This was not going to be my first memory of the first move that either of my children would ever remember.

"Lessi... poo poo?"


"Poo poo time?"

"No poo poo."

 Please, baby. Please just poop!

The house was emptying fast, and my baby was doing the opposite. With nothing left in the house but some of the larger furniture items, the team foreman had me sign some final paperwork and assured me we could head out and let them finish the rest. It was 2pm. Exactly when I had originally planned on leaving.

Lessi munched on some Cheez-Its, and we didn't leave. I busied myself with taping random boxes shut, watching--hoping--for the "poop face." Then around 2:30, Lessi strolled over to the bathroom and stood next to the toilet. 

"Poo poo."

I sat her down triumpantly on that toilet for what would be the last t--


"All done!"

That's it? A lamb's pooplet? Baby girl, that is not a day and a half's worth. You owe me!

Back to more random box taping. And three more futile poop attempts. Lessi likes to say "all done" and I'm guessing that seeing her dad plead with her to poop so we could move to our new home also amused her.

Then around 3pm, I heard quiet. The quiet that a toddler makes when she needs to focus. The quiet accompanied by the look of concentration. The poop face.

I swooped Lessi up and sat her on the toilet, but this time, I had to make her stay. The big one was on its way and I wasn't going to take an empty "all done" for an answer. Lessi isn't fond of sitting on toilets and the only way to make her stay on one is to distract her with objects. But everything was boxed up! Everything but one little ceramic bird that somehow managed to escape every wave of packing frenzy that swept through the house over the past three days. A bird that my mom got us in China. A very breakable, kind of sentimental bird. A bird that could save the day.

I gingerly picked up the bird and placed it in my daughter's hand. I tried to keep my hands under the bird as Lessi played with it, but since the baby toilet seat adapter was long packed, I had to keep both hands on Lessi so she wouldn't fall in. The bird was in fate's hands.

Not two minutes after I gave Lessi that ceramic bird, I watched in slow motion as that bird tumbled out of Lessi's hands and shatter into tiny shards of porcelain as her little gastrointestinal system focused all its energy on doing what it was born to do.

Movement happened.

And the next round began.