By Lisa Cucinotta
No one can describe parenting to you in a way that you’ll truly understand until you do it. Every day, in big and small ways, you experience things that even your most intricate imagining of parenthood couldn’t possibly encompass. Some of these are lovely things, moments that make you weep from the joy of them. Others, are just.. gross.
Case in point: I pulled a dog hair out of my daughter’s butt crack the other night. Did I lose you yet? Was that too gross for you? Well, welcome to parenting. She was complaining of an itchy butt, and I went to check if she might have not wiped properly after pooping. The sheer joy of not having to wipe my daughter’s butt after she poops is not always the freedom I envisioned in the early toilet training days. Because sometimes, a five year old can’t entirely be trusted. To wipe well, to wash their hands thoroughly… I mean, why do you think that little kids are constantly inundated with stomach flus and pink eye?
Anyway, the inspecting of butts doesn’t end after diapers, and is weirder and grosser the older they are, but such is parenting life. So yeah, I made my daughter bend over, and there it was. An errant dog hair stuck in her butt crack. That dog’s hair gets everywhere. In other gross news, I once got an infected abscess in my foot that turned out to be because of a dog hair splinter from this damn dog.
The other day a guy was talking about an old surgery and asked me if I wanted to see a picture of the scar from when it first happened, warning me it was gross. I’m thinking to myself, sir, you haven’t seen gross. I have been peed on so thoroughly that I had to change my entire outfit, including my underwear. I have caught vomit in my hands, more than once. I have seen baby poop squirt across a room. I have had many, many types and pieces of half chewed food handed to, spit out or thrown at me. I have picked and sucked boogers out of noses though I draw the line at the Nosefrida thing that somehow involves your mouth as suction for the snot. I get that its not like you suck the snot into your own mouth, but something about that bothers me somehow. But I digress. But basically – the things you’ll do for your kids, right?
In your old life, your pre-gross childfree life, what you considered icky now seems like child’s play (hah, pun unintended, but I’ll keep it). Vomit? That was for food poisoning or drunkenness. Poop? Happens in your own bathroom, by yourself, with the door closed. I’m one of the lucky ones who’s kids don’t feel compelled to be in the bathroom whenever I go (at least not usually). But apparently bathroom stalking their moms is one of small children’s favorite activities. Your sheets might get nasty because you were too lazy to change them, not because your kid peed the bed. The sleeve of your shirt got dirty because you spilled a drink on it while dancing at a bar, not because your child decided they needed to use you as a napkin for their ketchup-y hands.
The amount of gross things you see as a parent desensitizes you to these every day gross things. I’ve never been particular squeamish, but having children really puts you over the edge. And frankly it starts from pregnancy – morning sickness, hemorrhoids, sweating, swelling feet, heartburn, leaky boobs. You name something gross, some pregnant woman has experienced it. I even read a story about a woman who lost all her hair when she was pregnant. Like, literally went bald. It was falling out in clumps. Apparently it all grew back after she had her baby though!
Then you give birth and there’s a good chance you are going to poop on the table. You have this debate yourself, if you have an epidural, as to whether you should ask. Do you want to know if you did? Or if you can just live in denial will that make it easier and less gross? So even if you don’t poop, or don’t know you pooped, you expel a wailing baby covered in gross goo. Then you have to deliver the placenta afterwards. The placenta just hadn’t occurred to me. They tell you about it in birthing class but you’re just so relieved you pushed the baby out that when they tell you you’re going to have push more just to get a bag of goo out too, it’s just, ugh. Just thinking about placenta grosses me out a little …. but very little else does anymore.