on bladders


I have been busy these last weeks prepping classes and teaching and prepping and teaching. I’m teaching two classes and a couple of Saturday 1-hour writing labs at local libraries this fall, so I’m officially back in the swing of things. I’m busy, but interestingly I feel much less scattered than I did a month ago, when I was still working part-time at my communications job. Everything I’m doing now is about writing, and that feels right, like the proper fit for me. But still, I’m busy, and it’s been difficult for me to carve out time to sit down and blog. I know, the ignored sister, my poor blog.

My hope is to schedule some serious blog time (whatever that means) into each week, but I haven’t decided where that will fit yet. I can’t take up my morning writing time to blog or I’ll never finish the essay I’m muddling around in. I can’t blog while Zoë naps because that’s when I prepare to teach. I can’t blog after the girls are in bed because by that point it’s difficult for me to string sentences together, and besides, that’s when I hang with D and drink my wine and watch something on television (or read or prepare more for teaching if I must).

For now, I’ll leave you with this conversation I had with Stella a few days ago. We were in the bathroom, and she was getting ready for bed. I sat on the edge of the bathtub and she stood on her stool ready to wash her hands. (Chubby, sitting-up-by-herself Zoë was downstairs with D.)

Stella turned to me and said, “What if we didn’t have bladders?”

I smiled. “I guess the pee would just run out of us, wouldn’t it?”

“Like dogs?”

“Well,” I said, “dogs actually have bladders. It seems like they don’t, doesn’t it? Because they’re always peeing outside?”

“Yeah,” she said, then looked at me and raised her eyebrows (an expression that means she has a fact for me.) “Mice don’t have bladders,” she said seriously.

“Really?” I didn’t actually know.

“My Gram told me,” Stella said.

“Oh?” I said. My mom, a former second-grade teacher, would hardly make that up, would she?

“Yeah,” Stella said, lathering the soap between her palms until it was frothy, “Snakes don’t have bladders either.”


“Yeah, but I figured that out by myself. I looked in a dictionary.” She turned to me again, hands dripping with soap. “And,” she said, eyes wide, “in the picture, there was a silver thing coming out near its belly, and it was poop and it was silver because snakes eat metal sometimes.” She shrugged then, in that off-hand way she does, like it’s no big deal, all of these things she knows.

“Wow,” I said, loving her in all of her invention and curiosity. I was pretty sure snakes didn’t eat metal, but I really had no idea whether snakes and mice had bladders. Is this something most people know?

I love it when Stella comes to me with a fact. She loves to begin sentences with, “Mama, did you know…” Often I am ignorant, didn’t know whatever fact (made-up or true) she is sharing with me, so I simply exclaim and nod and encourage her.

And often my daughter is right. This is what I’ve confirmed about snakes:

“Because snakes do not have a urinary bladder, the urine is not stored, and the ureters empty directly in the cloaca.” (And maybe when waste exits the cloaca, it looks silver or at least it did to Stella?)

And mice:

“Mice do not have bladders; they will relieve themselves at will anywhere.”

I learn something new everyday, things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn. And now there is something else for which I can be grateful: we have bladders and we do not relieve ourselves at will anywhere. Think of the mess.


  1. I feel so enlightened. And this made me laugh. Thanks, Kate!

  2. Fabulous. I love the way you wrote this. Just loved it. And I didn’t know about snakes and mice, either.

  3. kids, lovely…the things they say.

    Whenever we would ask our parents about something, they would always respond by, “Look it up!”
    They kept a good set of encyclopedias around

    must be why i like to research on my own when someone tells me a “fact”. i hope my child has this same yearn for learning.

  4. I miss your blog….thanks…

  5. i love your stories. (and will enjoy reading them whenever they come to be on the blog.) i’m glad you are back in the swing of things. feeling productive helps us feel less cloudy most days i figure. less time equals more time somehow.

  6. As my dear departed grandmother would have said: “Well for goodness sake.”

    As I say: Who’d a thunk it?

  7. Man, you are a busy mama!

    Good for you for juggling everything, loving on your kids, writing so well and enjoying the funny things in life.

  8. Make sure to tell Stella that she might actually lose her bladder while giving birth.

  9. Thanks, all. Stella has been cracking me up lately (that is, when she doesn’t tell me that she only wants daddy to put her to sleep.)

    Kara, I think I’ll hold off on telling her about losing her bladder. That is just the sort of information that will take hold of her imagination.

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