On my cell phone, I have a photo I took a few weeks ago. It’s a photo of a toothbrush.
… smeared with poop.
… with a secondhand corn kernel caught right in the center of the bristles.
All because my three-year-old decided he needed something better than toilet paper to wipe with. Adventures with kids, you know?
The funny thing is, this photo – and the incident behind it – elicit no response from me other than perhaps an eye roll. Why? Because I deal with this kind of stuff all the time. I’m like a battle-hardened warrior, y’all. But when I show it to my childless friends? The reaction is something along the lines of OMGWTFBBQ! and a bunch of gagging and horrified eyes and hands clamped firmly over mouths.
This is just one of the things that separates moms from other women. And for your reading pleasure, here are a few more …
1. You can do anything – answer an email, take a dump, paint your nails, cook dinner, anything – with someone crawling all over you. It might take you a little longer, but you can still get it done … perfectly.
2. You stumble upon a moment to yourself and have a minor freak-out because for a minute you think you’ve forgotten your kid.
3. Your purse contains more of other people’s stuff than your own.
4. During a silence, your first thought is not, “Oh, they’re playing so quietly!” but “Okay, what kind of horrible mess are they making?” But you enjoy the silence so much that you’re almost willing to suffer the consequences.
5. You find poop in places that non-parents would be appalled at, like bathtubs. And pillows. And walls. And toothbrushes.
6. You get to go out for a girls’ night but are back home by ten o’clock – either stone-cold sober or barely buzzed – because your kids will still wake up at the normal time and demand breakfast as usual and being tired and hung over before 7 a.m. is not where it’s at.
7. You can’t remember where you parked at the grocery store, but your brain is a stunningly accurate database of your children’s current (and ever-changing) food preferences.
8. You see that the baby is chewing on his brother’s clean underwear and you just let him do it because hey, he’s happy and quiet and it’s not like he’s going to choke.
9. You would never splurge on frivolous things for your own bath, like an inflatable pillow and expensive bubbles and bath salts, but your kids have every bath toy and faucet cover and bubble bath and soapy finger paint and colored foam and color-change tablet under the sun.
10. You consider it a successful shower when you have time to shave up to your knees.
11. Your meals have morphed from grown-up (“Voila! Veal medallions and butternut squash gratinee!”) to kid-friendly (“We’re having chicken fingers and mac & cheese. Again. Want some mustard?”).
12. You threaten so much you have to rack your brain for newer and more threatening threats.
13. You can distinguish a “something’s wrong” cry from a “I can’t fit these two Lego blocks together” cry from three rooms away.
14. You can successfully decipher whether your kid’s whines mean he’s tired, hungry, bored, sick, thirsty, the tag in the back of his shirt feels funny, his nose is itchy, the couch is lumpy, his brother looked at him with “those scary eyes,” the dog doesn’t want to play, his junk is facing the wrong way in his underwear …
15. You like to think that fashion is still the number one criteria for your shoe purchases, but really you know deep down inside that the deciding factor is comfort and ease of slipping them on and off for school drop-off and pickup.
16. You answer questions like, “Do you have a vagina?” and “Why are your boobies so floppy?” without batting an eye.
17. For your own sanity, you encourage your kids to like the children’s TV shows you find most tolerable, and limit access to the ones you can’t stand.
18. You feel disheartened whenever they get old enough to start wanting to watch the crap their friends watch, and are not so easily swayed by what you think is cool.
19. You can answer almost any question satisfactorily while only half paying attention – but you know better than to answer “Right, Mom?” or “Okay, Mommy?” without first verifying what you’re “right-ing” or “okaying.”
20. You know which pregnancy gave you each stretch mark. “Oh, these lines? These lines right here on my hips? Those are from you. But those on the backs of my knees … those are from your brother.”
21. You have no problem peeing or showering with the door open and a kid or two chatting you up during the process – but you must have total privacy when you wax your upper lip, lest it come up in a conversation at school.