I used to think I had an admirably strong stomach. I didn’t faint at the sight of blood, mine or anyone else’s. Vomit made me ill, but it didn’t make me barf. I could lose a toenail with aplomb. I could have a conversation, with my fiancé no less, about poop. I had once cleaned up dog urine.
On the other hand, teeth falling out was a total ick, but that didn’t happen to nice people in their mid-20s. Urine-smelling alleys turned my stomach. I once had to clean up dog feces and succeeded only in vomiting atop them. My husband handled the gross parts of pet ownership.
Then we had children, and all of a sudden, my stomach got a hell of a lot stronger. Because while people without kids might know that kids can be gross, they don’t truly understand. You don’t get the utter bodily disgust of children until you live with one, especially a small one. You will find yourself doing things as a matter of course that would set your pre-mom self barfing on her shoes.
You will get poop out of…places.
Non-moms know, abstractly, that moms have to change diapers and hence wipe up human feces, and well, doesn’t that just suck. Moms know that poop gets all up in the crevices of tiny ball sacks or labia, and she’s the one who has to ever-so-gently dig it out. Sometimes — okay, usually — this will take multiple wipes. This will totally gross you out. But you will do it because you’re the mom, and that’s part of your job. What, you didn’t read the fine print?
You will get poop on your hand.
Then there will be the poops that escape the confines of the diaper to smear your baby from their heels to their neck. You will gingerly wrestle them out of their clothes, usually nice clothes, usually clothes not meant to be wrestled out of because this always fucking happens the day you decide to take baby to church, and you will be wiping and wiping and wiping, and some will get on the side of your hand or in the cracks of your knuckle, and you will be so pissed about the outfit you just smear it on the now-besmirched shirt and keep going. Before you couldn’t handle dog feces without vomiting; now you’re casually wiping human shit off your bare hands without a gag.
You will learn which household cleaner most effectively removes human feces.
This isn’t to say that your kid will intentionally smear poop on the walls (they might). This isn’t to say that instead of using the potty, they’ll take a dump on the floor (they might). It isn’t even to say that some will slide out of their diaper, and they’ll step on it and track it through the house (they might). But you’ve gotta clean out that training potty somehow. Stupid-ass frog, looking so damn smug.
If you have boys, you will learn which household cleaner effectively masks the smell of urine.
Boys will be boys, and by that, I mean boys will piss on the floor around your toilet, on the toilet seat, possibly on the towels, and everywhere but in the toilet itself. They will pee high up on that dumb-ass frog potty, and the pee will seep through the crack and it will soak all your bath mats. Your bathroom will reek of urine from the time he potty trains until — well, no one’s given me a satisfactory answer to that. But you’ll learn which cleaner makes it smell all nice and fresh because the alternative is too disgusting. You thought a piss-stinking alley was gross. Now you have one in your house.
Yes, you will catch vomit in your hands.
It’s an old saw in the mom trenches: Mom holds out her hands and catches child’s vomit so it doesn’t go everywhere because it’s easier to clean her hands than any number of things you can name when you finally do this maneuver yourself — the sheets, the couch, a sibling, the floor in Target’s most conspicuous aisle. You will catch puke, and you will hold puke, and it will be warm and puke-y, and you will not barf yourself — simply because you fucking can’t.
You will suck snot out of someone else’s nose.
There’s this device called a NoseFrida, and it’s the only thing that works on a baby with a cold (throw out that shitty bulb you got from the hospital). You shove the business end up baby’s nose, thread the other end into your mouth, thank Jesus there’s a barrier between the two of them, and suck as hard as you motherfucking can. Before, the bubbling-snot noise alone would have made you queasy. Now you just bark at your spouse to hold the baby tighter so you can suck more snot out of their head.
You will probe the depths of someone else’s ears.
I do not make more than a teensy bit of earwax. My husband has, shall we say, another set of DNA — a set of DNA my babies all inherited (except for one, bless his waxless soul). Every few days, I arm myself with an array of Q-tips and scrape sticky, gross brown wax out of my kids’ ears while they smile blissfully. My non-mom self would have died. I only narrowly avoid it.
Someone will bleed on you. Like, on you.
I don’t mean your kid will get a small cut and you will get blood on your hands. I mean, your kid will fall down, catch their head on a rock, and bleed so hard you will think they hit an artery and rush them to the ER, where they will require several stitches. Because head wounds gush, your shirt and hands, and their shirt and hands, will be covered in blood. It will be smeared everywhere, including your face (where they touched you). Being okay with blood does not even begin to cover it.
You will wipe snot off someone else’s face — with your hand.
A giant blob of slime was sticking to your kid’s upper lip. You didn’t have a wipe. You didn’t want to smear it on their shirt. So you swiped if off their nose, shook it off your hand (and maybe wiped it on the side of the car seat, but maybe I’m a horrible person), and called it a day. Touching your own snot is gross. Touching someone else’s snot? To the non-mom, this is the stuff of reality TV shows.
You will be forced to wash a child completely smeared with a variety of substances.
Remember the part in Double Dare where the kids did the obstacle course — the part that required them to dive headfirst into various foodstuffs? As a mother, you will be responsible for cleaning up the results of the Double Dare obstacle course on a semi-regular basis. You will scrub avocado out of neck folds and spaghetti sauce out of ear canals. Before, this would have grossed me out. Now it’s just my average time to bathe the baby.
You thought you had a strong stomach? Children will strengthen it. You thought you had a handle on your queasiness? Children will tighten that grip. Motherhood is joyous. It’s wonderful, amazing, and mind-blowing. It’s also messy. No, make that disgusting. Motherhood is completely, utterly, and totally gross. And you don’t give a fuck.
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