By Leah Black
Of all the words I could use to describe my life right now, one of the most accurate is probably “gross.” I don’t really mind—dealing with dirty diapers and throw-up is part of having little kids, and I know it won’t go on forever. But, the fact is, there’s probably a booger stuck to my arm right now that didn’t come from me. I find it comforting, however, to know I’m not alone. The other day, I bumped into a mom I know and her 1-year-old daughter, whose nose was cascading snot. Finding herself tissue-less, the mom took her fingers and pinched the snot out from under her daughter’s nostrils, then wiped the gooey mess onto her own jeans–all the while carrying on our conversation. I was dumbstruck: I indulge in this same behavior, but usually try to be discreet because I’m afraid what people will think. This mom, however, had performed the act with a bold confidence I admired (and she had very expensive jeans on). Inspired, I’m sharing five gross things I do as a parent, in the hopes that I’m not alone.1. Accept boogers from my kids as if they are gifts. Recently, my daughter was sitting on the couch watching TV. As I passed, she casually held out her hand to reveal a booger she had been rolling around in her palm for the past half hour. I actually said, “Thank you,” as I took it from her—glad she had allowed me to dispose of it rather than wipe it on the couch for my husband or I to find later.
2. Eat partially digested food my children don’t want. My kids love to eat only half of something—or decide they don’t like it mid-chew and then regurgitate it. So I often find myself in possession of things like saliva-covered cheese sticks with no easy place to dispose of them. If there’s no trash can around, and the food isn’t the type to be easily stuffed into my pocket and dealt with later, the easiest thing is to eat it myself. I’m usually hungry anyway.
3. Wipe my children’s snot on myself. When my child’s nose needs wiping and there are no tissues around, my own clothing is the next best option. Sometimes, I’ll use the corner of my shirt, and other times, I’ll use my fingers, in which case I’ll wipe the boogers onto a part of my outfit that feels discreet, like the side of my jeans. Later, I’ll wonder what all those white streaks are smeared across my clothing, and I’ll remember, matter-of-factly: “Oh–dried snot.”
4. Have detailed conversations about bowel movements. I can’t blame this totally on my kids, since sometimes I bring up my own observations. “Someone ate a raisin yesterday!” I’ll say to my son, pointing out the evidence in the toilet bowl. Mostly, however, it’s my kids who bring up their number-twos. “Is it a big one or a small one?” my daughter will demand as I change her diaper. “Why is it green?” my son wonders, craning his neck to peer into the toilet like a scientist. Later, when I begin typing, “Why is p…” into Google, I feel less alone when “oop green” is the suggested next phrase.
5. Clean up vomit. I’m not an ambitious housekeeper, so the first time my son threw up on his sheets, it occurred to me the easiest thing to do would be to throw them all out. But if your kid is vomiting continuously and you only have so many sets of sheets, that is not a viable option. More so than when I first held my newborn child, I think I truly felt like a mom the first time I found myself standing in the bathroom at 3am, washing bits of partially digested macaroni out of my son’s dump truck comforter. In doing so, I knew there was a good chance I, too, would be vomiting in the near future. Yet that did not stop me. And that’s motherhood.
Leah Black is the former executive editor of New York Family. She and her husband are the proud parents of Avi and Lily.