Before children, bodily fluids and functions probably played a relatively and gratifyingly small part in your life. No more.
Suddenly you will find yourself finding the contents of nappies all consuming, and will freely discuss the consistency of human faeces over the Sunday dinner table, like that’s actually okay. Innocent bystanders will be discreetly gagging and eyeing the mustard seeds on their roast beef with new disfavour.
This is not the person you thought you’d become. You had standards. But the fact is – like everything else – they’ll change. You will find you have new thresholds for ick, and you will eventually discover yourself doing abhorrent and disgusting things whilst barely batting an eyelid.
I’m not really talking about the surprise wee that inevitably catches the new and unwary parent in the face during a nappy change, the baby puke in the mouth when doing an ill-advised post-feed aeroplane, nor the runny poonami disaster that requires an immediate bath for two. These are very much rights of parental passage. They are also events in which you are largely a hapless victim.
I’m not even counting the repellent moments you will actually and unfathomably celebrate – like when your kid finally does a shit in the potty and you pour it down the loo, and get the splashback right in the eye. (You’ll be so pleased not to be scrubbing another pooey gusset you won’t mind in the least, and will in fact go straight back to praising the offensive offender).
No, what I am concerned about here are the physically repellent incidences where you are complicit in the grossness. The ones where you suddenly find yourself a willing – and relatively unphased – participant. The ones you would never have dreamed you would do before you had children.
Certainly I would never have dreamed of these things as I have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since childhood and can tell you categorically that Lady Macbeth was an amateur hand washer. Not even trying.
I remember a specific incident many moons ago at a friends house, when she had children and I wasn’t even sure I ever wanted any. (This next bit didn’t help, btw). I blithely went to the loo – and suddenly found my sock wet through. Her little boy, who was toilet training, had ‘missed’. Upon recovering my composure enough to report this, I was told (and I quote)
“Oh, it’s only a bit of wee. It’s mostly just water.”
FILTERED THROUGH HUMAN BEING!
FILTERED THROUGH HUMAN BEING!
FILTERED THROUGH HUMAN BEING!
I screamed silently in my head. (At least I think it was silently).
She may well have provided me with a new pair of socks but I can’t really remember because I was too bloody traumatised. What I do know is that upon returning home I burned my socks and dipped my feet in pine disinfectant.
Boy are those days looooong gone. So here is a short and in no way definitive list of some of the revolting things you will do as a mum or dad.
You will welcome random gifts of snot
These could come at anytime, regardless of whether you’re near a tissue or wipe, accompanied by the dreaded refrain “Mummy I’ve got some snot!”. You will happily accept the snot because the alternative will be to find it later that day matted in their hair/stuck to the sofa/smeared across the fave stuffed toy/dangling from the cat/transferred from sed sofa to a guest’s bottom.
Snot will be a new part of your life. Babies have an average of 1,436 colds in their first year. (Approx). It will run thick from their tiny nose, and will stick in strings to your nipple as you breastfeed. And as long as the latch is good and the baby is feeding, here’s the thing; you won’t give a damn. You will become inured to the green slime oozing from your toddlers nostrils, because frankly you can’t face catching them to wipe it AGAIN (because they will resist – strongly). Snot will grace your shoulders and knees and you will give up wiping in-effectually at this too. Black clothing will no longer be your friend and saviour.
Eventually you will learn to follow the example of your childcare provider and let it form a nice crusty plug so you can take a couple of hours off wiping duty. I remember in the olden days seeing these kids and wrinkling my nose, thinking, ‘Why aren’t those parents wiping up that horrible snot?’ Now I know.
You will catch vomit in your bare hands
Possibly you’re round at Grandma’s, at a restaurant, or you’re on a play date. It doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter why. You. Will. Hold. Somone. Else’s. Sick. In. Your. Bare. Hands.
This is completely disgusting and the very thought of it would have made me vomit in my own mouth just a few short years ago. Whether it’s a refluxy baby or a feverish toddler, sick will now be part of your life, as surely as snot. And if the only available receptacle to contain the contamination is your hands, you won’t hesitate to use them.
You will consume food partially ingested by another being
At some point – when you least expect it – you will be given an item of food, partially sucked to death, that your child has spat out and is now refusing to have in their immediate vicinity. There are no wipes. There are no tissues. There is no bin. The child is threatening to smear this tidbit across your friend’s cream carpet/your only clean work shirt/the ball pool. There is only one thing to do. So you man-up (mother-up), pop it out of the way in your own mouth and dispose of it for good. You may even lick their fingers, to boot.
What’s even worse is that you will in fact welcome the opportunity to have a guilt free sugar rush – things have gotten that bad. I have even licked encrusted yoghurt off the baby’s ear on the way into the Doctor’s, because obviously I don’t want them to think I’m a bad mother. (It may have once been strawberry flavoured).
You will drink your own breast milk
It’ll start small. Licking a few drops off your hand. Giving it a quick taste to see what it’s like. Pretty soon you’ll be stuck under a sleeping baby with a cup of coffee either too hot or too black, and you’ll just give up and squirt some in.
To put that in perspective, you are ingesting your own bodily fluids. Before kids you would only have imagined this scenario if you were for some unspecified reason stranded in a desert. And then you’d have doubted your own fortitude.
You will sleep on miscellaneous wet patches
They won’t be the good kind of wet patch, and they won’t even have been made by you. Those days are also long gone, my friend. It’s the middle of the night (ok, it might even be the middle of the day). The baby is sick on your duvet, or the bigger small person has a nappy leak on your sheets. You will look at the stain, sum up its size and severity against the effort of changing a king sized bed, washing and drying the linen. You will then give it a cursory rub with a baby wipe, and go back to sleep. (You will find suddenly that there are very few spills or stains that can’t be satisfactorily fixed with a baby wipe. They are the cleaning industry’s greatest nemesis and best kept secret).
Your bed sheets probably won’t get changed more than six times a year, now, anyway. They won’t be ready to walk to the machine – they will have to slither as they are so buttery soft with sweat, regurgitation and urine. And you won’t care that much.
After all, it’s just a bit of wee.
It’s mostly just water really, isn’t it?