Never in my thoughts about becoming a mom did I consider the sheer amount of germs that would come along with the joy and happiness of childrearing. I never pictured my future kids puking on trains in shopping malls, or my husband and I passing in the hallway at 2 a.m. as we both were in charge of two separate kids puking in opposite bathrooms.
As a kid, I had my own quirks, but germs never bothered me until I became a mom. Then suddenly, I was living with breathing, walking, and talking germ factories right inside my own home, and started to wonder how long it would be until all three knew how to blow their noses and throw up in the toilet. We’re not there yet.
It was like I became a germaphobe overnight and started down a path I can’t seem to return from. One of counting days until stomach bugs seem to finally be in the clear (they never are), and praying that the note about a lice outbreak doesn’t get sent home from school (it totally has).
But if being a mom and a germaphobe seem like they should be mutually exclusive, I’m here to tell you: They aren’t. I’m living proof. And I know there are more moms like me out there. I’ve seen you with your shopping-cart covers and offering up hand sanitizer like candy to the other moms at the park. Just know you’re not alone, and you might be a germaphobe mom if…
A row of shopping carts feels like you’re playing a game of Russian roulette. You stand there trying to decide which one last contained a child with the plague who hasn’t learned to cover his mouth when he sneezes, and you pray to God the one you chose is “safe.”
You could run a hand-sanitizer supply company out of your home, purse, or car. I have at least two containers of liquid safety in my purse at all times, plus hand-sanitizing wipes. My car has large Costco-sized pumps, and my house has one pump sitting out the kitchen counter at all times.
You hardly ever eat after your kids, or let your kid eat after you. Sharing my water bottle is not an option, so kids, make sure to pack your own water for the trip to the park because mommy doesn’t want whatever contagious concoction your tiny body is currently cooking up.
You wish you could whip out a hazmat suit from your giant sanitizer supply purse when entering a public restroom. Instead, you whisper right in your toddler’s face while you pee, “Stand there, and don’t move. Do not touch anything. Hands in pockets. Hold your breath if possible.”
Going to a children’s museum feels like walking into a hazardous wasteland. You do it for your kids, but you make sure your schedule will allow for a week of downtime afterward for the E. coli they are for sure going to pick up from the community toys while you’re there. You look around for the coughing kids, steer your kids to another area of the room, and pray the germs didn’t make it over to you.
Your kids come home from school and already know to walk straight to the sink and wash their hands. Sorry, kids, but hugs, cuddles, and love come after the hand-scrubbing.
When your kid is puking, they get quarantined. You don’t cuddle — you give sympathy for their agony from across the room. “There, there, my child. It will be over soon.” OMG I need a shower! you think as you slowly back away in fear.
You avoid playlands in fast-food restaurants at all costs. Just the term “ball pit” makes you shudder in fear.
Doorknobs, stair rails, and public surfaces might as well be Petri dishes your kids are playfully dipping their hands in and splashing around. Your kids learned young that eating off a public table at a restaurant is forbidden, and they mastered flushing a public toilet with their foot as soon as they were potty trained.
Your kid tells you that so and so threw up in class today, and you want to perform a ritual on your child and sprinkle around some holy water to keep them from catching it. You know they probably already did, so you start focusing on deep breathing and picturing your happy place.
Yes, it’s exhausting being me, but it does get slightly better the longer I’m a mom.
Yes, I know that hand sanitizer is the worst ever, and you’re rolling your eyes at me as I offer some to your kids. I know, I know, my kids’ immune systems are probably worse than your kid’s because I’m the one trying to prevent them from licking the window at the public library.
But, if we’re out together in public, and you can’t sit down at that nasty picnic table because of how dirty it is? Don’t worry, mama. I got you. Let me just grab a sanitizing wipe from my purse.