Fair warning: You might want to set down your sandwich before reading this post.
When you get pregnant, most dialogue with other parents centers around how wonderful parenting is. Love, love, sunshine, roses, sweet giggles, tickles, triumphs, love, love, love.
What people don’t always tell you is that parenting — and motherhood in particular — can be truly, horribly, shockingly disgusting. Like, beyond what you could possibly be picturing right now. Some of these things I’m going to describe may not happen to you, but they could. And chances are, you either have experienced or will experience something equally horrifying that no one could possibly predict.
Let’s start with the wee one’s arrival. Whether you’re pushing the tiny human out your nether regions or having it surgically removed from your abdomen, the baby’s physical entrance into the world isn’t exactly “pretty.” I won’t elaborate. You can find those details without too much digging.
What you won’t find so easily is the full skinny on what happens after the birth. Like, for example, the gruesome crime scene pouring out of you for days. You’ll be changing your own adult diapers every few hours for upwards of a week — not because you’re incontinent (though that can happen, too), but because you’re as bloody as a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Also, when you stand in the shower two days after giving birth and have a bloody blob the size of a racquetball fall out of you? That’s normal. I so wish I was kidding (and not speaking from experience).
But then it’s all worth it when you gaze at your sweet little babe, who looks and smells like an angel, right?
Yes, all is perfect and adorable, right up until the first 2 a.m. diaper change when the little darling projectile-squirts bright yellow poo all across your bed. And all over the clean diaper you had ready to go. And your pajamas. And part of your hair. And then as soon as you get that cleaned up in your half-asleep stupor, he does it all over again.
Or how about the peaceful, scenic road trip through the mountains, when your toddler begins to projectile vomit all over her carseat? And it’s hot. And there’s nowhere to pull over. And you realize you left the diaper bag with the baby wipes and a change of clothes sitting next to the front door at home.
For those of you who haven’t reached this stage yet, let me just end the suspense now. You WILL be puked on. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And I’m not talking about baby spit-up, though that will happen. too. I’m talking full-on big-kid vomit with the bile and the bean soup, all down the front of your PJ’s at 3 a.m. (OK, I don’t know if that actually WILL happen to you, but it makes me feel better to think it happens to everyone. Remember, we’re all on this ride together.)
Oh, and here’s another great one: Sometime your toddler might be constipated and get “stuck” mid-poo, and you’re the one who has to help move things along. Manually. Uh huh.
Or how about when the 2-year-old decides to become an independent pooper on the toilet, gets up prematurely, drops a deuce on the bathroom floor, steps in it, then tracks it all the way up the carpeted stairs to tell you about his toilet triumph while you’re brushing your teeth in your own bathroom?
We’re just getting warmed up here, friends. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Hopefully, if you are particularly sensitive, your partner isn’t. If you’re both kind of wimpy in the woozy department, one of you is going to have to buck up. In our house, that one turned out to be me. I’m the one who gets puked on. I’m the one scraping poo out of the undies and scrubbing it out of the carpet. Lucky me.
Unfortunately, the icky aspect of propagating the species doesn’t end with babies and toddlers, either. I thought that the gross stage of parenting would be finished after potty training.
Not so much.
One of my kids went through a several-month stint of picking her nose and wiping it on her pillow at night. I would go to change the bedding and be greeted with a constellation of dried-up boogers all up one side of the pillowcase. I thought this was unique until a cousin of mine told me about the time her son asked if she wanted to see his “booger forest” next to his bed. Mmm hmm.
If you think that’s appalling, how about the mom who noticed one day that her son’s closet smelled strongly of urine. Upon further inspection, she found a small horde of Dixie cups half-filled with … you guessed it … pee. He said he was conducting a “science experiment.” Do you know what happens to pee when it sits undiluted for days? It gelatinizes.
That’s right. Stinky, gelatinized pee cups hidden in the closet. I’m telling you, kids are a hundred different kinds of disgusting.
And not to gender stereotype (after all, it was my girl with the booger pillow), but boys and the bathroom is an especially toxic combo. No matter how much you try to teach them to aim well, they just can’t get it all into the toilet. Either they can’t, or they don’t want to. I’m not sure which is more plausible.
One day, we had a barbecue with some friends. There were five boys between the ages of 4 and 9 at our house for about four hours. After they left, our upstairs bathroom looked as if it had been hosed down with pee. No exaggeration. Hosed down. There was pee on the floor, on the walls, on the vanity, in the bathtub. Boys + pee = nasty combination.
I know two brothers who would pee on each other’s toothbrushes as a practical joke. My husband assures me that he would never have done that as a kid. But clearly some kids do such things. Also, pee sword fights. Or pee light saber fights. These are real things.
Oh, and we have a younger family member who peed in a showroom toilet once. He really needed to go, and the toilet was right there. He was little enough for it to be a funny story, but it was still mortifying for his parents the day it happened.
Speaking of toilets and parental mortification, my sister-in-law caught my niece sucking on the bolts that hold down the toilet once. SUCKING ON TOILET BOLTS, PEOPLE. Just when you think kids can’t get grosser, they do.
Lest you think I must know a bunch of wild, feral children, I assure you that all of the kids in these stories have good, loving, responsible parents, and they are all generally stellar children in almost every way. I would never have thought that to be possible before having kids. But good kids do gross things.
I suppose there’s a reason people don’t talk about these parenting realities much. It’s pretty icky, a little embarrassing, and not at all in keeping with the beauty of parenthood. But it’s the truth, and the truth isn’t always pretty. You really should be prepared. Well, no one can really prepare you for that stuff, but at least you know what might be coming.
Now you can go back to your sandwich. Good luck, and may your boys aim well.