I love my children. But just like when getting married you could never have known all the wonderful, interesting, and quirky things about your mate, so it is with having kids. There may have been moms who told me stories to this effect prior to having children…but if they did, I don’t remember.
Moms are amazing. It’s not just that we will ignore a screaming child in a store and continue the conversation we’re having with our girlfriend, be up all hours of the day and night to attend their needs, drop everything to rush our child to the bathroom in a restaurant (“Out of the way, people!”), or catch our own child’s puke — all things I have done. We deal with stressful situations on a daily basis and are no strangers to all kinds of interesting and sometimes gross things. But there are some things that just wear on me as a mom.
Public Enemy #1 to a Mom: Germs
Now, lest you think I’m that crazy mom who trails her kids around continuously wiping their hands and using sanitizer, I am not. After four kids, I’m now the mom at the park who will see something in their child’s mouth and upon investigation realize: “Oh, it’s just dirt? You’re fine.” And leave them to continue playing.
But even I can see that children have NO concept of germs. No boundaries when and where they can contract them. And no personal space. One day, I was at the mall in the food court watching as a mother stood in line, her children sitting tables away. The mother’s youngest picked up a French fry off the floor and was going to put it in her mouth while her mother frantically waved at her to put it down; at the last minute, her older sibling slapped it out of her hand. The little girl looked hurt and confused. And all I could think was “Gross…I could totally see my kids doing that.”
One night during dinner, my daughter took the spoon, full of sour cream from the dish, licked it, then attempted to put it back. Her father caught her hand just before she did.
“What are you doing?!” he asked.
She looked confused, as if to say: “What’s wrong with that?” Like I said — no concept of germs.
Or last year when we were at Disney World, waiting in one of the many lines for a ride, I looked down and my daughter was walking along and licking the chain that divides the line. Licking. The. Chain. The same one that 50 bazillion people have just had their hands on. So gross.
My children will pick up anything off the floor and put it in their mouths: bugs, dust balls, paper, and boogers. You name it; they’ve done it. The amazing thing is that these are the same children who will then sit at a dinner table and refuse to eat something I’ve made them. Refuse. Makes me think I should put it in a corner on the floor. Maybe then they’d try it.
Public Enemy #2 to a Mom: Public Bathrooms
Closely related to #1, but really deserving a category all its own, are public bathrooms. What used to be a place I never gave a second thought to prior to having children has now become a room of dread with my small children.
I don’t know why, but there seem to be magnets everywhere in a public bathroom that draw my children’s hands to them. Every time. They will literally touch everything. Run their hands across the walls, touch the seat, the bars, the little garbage for personal items, everything! I find myself sounding like a country auctioneer: “Stop touching the walls, stop touching the toilet bowl, stop touching, stop touching…stop! Stop! Stop!”
And although I would prefer to get in and out as quickly as possible, my children (being completely unaware of all the icky germs) don’t mind public restrooms at all and will stare at me like I’ve lost my mind for making them hurry.
It’s amazing children don’t get sick more often. Really.
So for all you moms of little ones out there, just know: You are not alone. I’ve heard enough stories from other moms to know that my children are not the only ones who could care less about germs or be bothered by public restrooms. We have solidarity as moms; we’re in a class all our own. And please know that if you are ever in a food court and your child is about to stick a fry in their mouth from the floor, if I am close enough I will gladly take it out of their hand…as I know you’d do the same for me.