I must have missed the chapter in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” entitled Being a Mom is Gross. I mean, it must have been there. From literally my first day of being a mother, I have been having to deal with a lot of disgustingness.
Raising kids is not for the faint of heart—or stomach. Luckily, motherhood seems to dramatically increase our tolerance for things that would make our pre-baby selves cringe with horror. Here are some examples:
1. Creepy bugs: When our kids are freaking out about a huge centipede or spider that just scurried across the floor, our gut instinct might tell us to run away shrieking (I know mine does). But instead, we hold our breath and calmly smash the menacing creature with a shoe like it’s no big deal.
2. Random critters—or parts of them: My daughter once found half of a frog in our driveway. She was so fascinated by this discovery that I tried to focus on her curiosity, instead of queasily wondering where the other half went. Ditto for the fossilized mice we have encountered in our basement from time to time. If my kids are willing to see something gross as a learning experience, the least I can do is not faint in disgust.
3. Diaper changing: The sheer volume of dirty diapers produced by a sweetly gurgling newborn can be an unwelcome surprise at first. But after only a short time in the trenches of parenthood, we’re capable of conquering even the worst blowouts without missing a beat.
4. Poop: Not just in diapers or toilets, but everywhere. Including painted on walls and in bathtubs. Unhygienic? Yes. But also, we have to admit, creative.
5. Germs, germs and more germs: Our lovely children and their developing immune systems expose us to a plethora of disgusting pathogens, from croup to pink eye. But even the worst bout of stomach flu won’t stop us from nursing our little patients back to health, even if it means we’ll be sick as dogs a few days later.
6. Floor food: My daughters often eat food that’s fallen from the table onto the floor. Unless we are in a literal cesspool, I usually look the other way and tell myself it’s good for their immune systems (see above). And hey, floor food is good for moms too: eating that Cheerio or raisin off the kitchen floor is way more efficient than having to schlep it all the way over to the trash can.
7. Peeing in public: Because even though we reminded our darling children approximately 17 times to use the potty before we left the house, doing it in the middle of the bookstore is so much more fun.
8. Constantly being used as a Kleenex: Somehow, our dear offspring have decided that mom’s shirt or pant leg—or really, any part of her within reach—is a perfectly acceptable alternative to a tissue.
9. Gruesome tooth extractions: Listening to your kid yank and twist a stubborn tooth is like hearing nails on a chalkboard. And that’s not even as bad as the buckets of blood that sometimes follow. But after witnessing this a few times with my daughter, I can honestly say I’m no longer fazed.
10. Being vomited on, and/or catching vomit with your bare hands: This one is like a rite of passage for every devoted parent. Because a trash can or a toilet is no substitute for mom’s loving arms and brand new shirt.