Who remembers the movie Orange County from 2002? It’s one of the movies my husband and I quote the most, next to Talladega Nights and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. There’s a scene where John Lithgow sits down on the sofa and asks, agitatedly, why he feels wet. “Relax,” says Catherine O’Hara, “it’s just urine.” This is my exact sentiment when it comes to my kids’ body functions—in comparison with some of the vile fluids I’ve faced, “just urine” doesn’t even register on my gross-out meter.
A mom’s tolerance for nastiness grows with her baby. Newborns have small, mild-smelling bowel movements. They spit up, but they don’t vomit, at least in my experience. There will be some diaper blowouts, but you handle them quickly and decisively because no one else is going to take care of it for you. When you can’t ignore the mess, you simply deal with it before you have time to evaluate the situation objectively and wonder what your life has come to.
As baby grows and starts to eat solid foods, dirty diapers become seriously foul, but you deal with them because you have to. Got poop on your hand? That’s what soap is for.
Then there’s vomit. This one is the absolute worst. Little kids don’t know their bodies well enough to see it coming, so it catches them (and their parents) by surprise, erupting in the car, in bed, on the carpet … The smell is totally disgusting, and the texture makes it hard to clean up. Compared to this, “just urine” is nothing. Runny noses? Nothing. Spit-up, also, is nothing. You wipe it up and move on, often without even changing clothes.
I saw a meme once that said, “Children are like farts. Your own are tolerable, but anyone else’s are just disgusting.” Isn’t it true? I’ll wipe my kid’s nose as if it was my own, but your kid’s runny nose is nasty. It’s a phenomenon I would like to term “Hygienetics.” I’ll take care of my genetic offspring’s hygienic shortcomings, and you take care of yours.
These are the laws of Hygienetics:
- I will clean up my kids’ body expulsions, no matter how unpleasant they may be.
- I will ascend to a higher gag threshold as I become accustomed to cleaning up after my offspring.
- Just because I can navigate my own children’s gross-out episodes doesn’t mean I’m ready to become a nurse. Your yucky stuff is still yucky, sorry.
- As my children grow older and learn how to control, predict and direct their body fluids, my intolerance for nasty stuff will return. (I’ll clean up my 2-year-old’s puke, but my 10-year-old had better get herself to the toilet.)
*Note: On Sunday, Deke had a BM at church. I took him to the bathroom and laid him on the changing table, where I removed his diaper and was immediately blasted by a forceful bowel movement, which landed on my hand and soiled the changing table. As I attempted to wipe this up, a stream of urine shot into the air and began to run down the bathroom wall. But not to worry—one package of wipes and a good hand scrubbing later, we were ready to carry on with our day. While a picture of this episode would have been quite fitting for this blog post, I thought you would rather see a photo of Deke snuggling in his Woombie. Thus, the picture has nothing to do with this post.