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Life With A Single Toilet

“I have to go poop!” our son, B, announces as he heads toward the bathroom.

I grimace at him. “Daddy just took the toilet bucket out to dump.”

Rewind. Our family lives what you might call an unconventional lifestyle. Some might call it downright weird. One of the many weird things we do is defecate into a composting toilet.

No, not one of those several-hundred-dollar jobbies that have a fan, climate control system, and casino all in a three-square foot area. Not one of those that you can ignore for weeks on end before needing to dump it.

We poop into a five gallon bucket. Instead of flushing, we cover our feces up with dirt. And it needs to be dumped about every third day.

Uh, by the way, you may not want to read this post while you’re eating. You’re welcome.

Back to the story.

“That’s okay,” B says, snatching up his sunglasses to go outside. “I can wait.”

It’s as though his words were a trigger for my own system to kick into high gear. Suddenly, I have to go so bad that I’m not sure I can wait for my husband. “Now I have to go,” I moan as B opens the door to go outside.

“Should I tell Daddy?”

I shake my head. “He should be done pretty soon.”

Famous last words. Ten minutes went by. Then thirty. Then an hour.

In my head, anyway. Really it was probably about two minutes. But with every passing second the pressure became greater and greater.

My heart began to race. My palms began to sweat. Finally, I snatched up some wipes and headed out the door. “I’m going to have to go in the woods!” I exclaimed.

It would not be the first time.

B ran out the door ahead of me and began yelling at J, my husband. By the time I had run to the place where I would enter the woods, J had just finished putting the couple inches of dirt at the bottom of the bucket. Now aware of my dire situation, thanks to our son, he began to run.

And B, wanting to spice things up a bit, began a play-by-play: “Daddy just finished putting dirt in the bottom of the bucket. Okay, he’s throwing down the shovel. Now he’s running past the garden…”

I guess he was trying to make me feel better. Give me hope.

I backtracked to get out of J’s way (there is a spot between the orchard and garden that only one person can walk through at a time). Would I make it? After all, he still had to get through the door, and situate the bucket under the lid of the compost toilet.

I high-tailed it after him, hoping for the best. Watching him work at a frenetic speed foreign to him. I went into the bathroom just as he set the toilet lid with the toilet seat back down.

I was sitting down before he had even closed the bathroom door.

I made it.


As I sat on the throne, I wondered for a few seconds why a crisis like this never happened when I was growing up and there were twice as many people sharing one toilet.

Then I remembered: we were all dehydrated and consumed a very low-fiber diet.


Then I thought to myself, it’s a good thing this hardly ever happens.

Sometimes, I should just stop thinking.

The next morning, all three of us had to go at the same time.

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