‘That’s disgusting,’ was a phrase I used a lot when I was a teenager. And the chances are that whatever was that ‘disgusting’ wasn’t really all that bad. Perhaps someone had let off a stink bomb in the school corridor, or I’d skidded on some soggy autumnal leaves, or I’d seen a couple over the age of twenty-five having a heavy make-out session. You know, not really that disgusting. In fact I don’t think I really understood just how vile, putrid and repulsive things can get until I became a mother.
Warning, if you are not a mother stop reading right here…and continue thinking that stepping in dog shit is the worst thing that can ever happen to you.
So where do I start on the disgustometer? Why not at the beginning of vileness – at the birth.
If I want to have a laugh, I mean a real belly-clutching-tears-rolling-nearly-pee-myself laugh I listen in on mothers-to-be having a chat about preparing for their first baby’s birth. They are excited because they have bought a new lacy nightie for the hospital (which they weirdly think will fit them once the bump has turned into a baby), they muse as to whether to get a Brazilian or Hollywood wax and compare energy bars to nibble on during labour. It’s a beautiful image. Except my main memory of advanced labour, while leaning over the bed and trying to remember how to breathe, was staring down at my feet and muttering ‘what the fuck is all that slime and guts dribbling out of me. You don’t get that in the films?!’ Neither do they tell you there is a high chance you will push out pellets of pooh before you push out a baby. And when I held my beautifully screwed up little bundle in my arms, and the midwife asked if I wanted a shower, I wasn’t in any rush. It took a glance at my husband’s horrified face to realise I was caked chest to toe in all manner of red and white stuff and that maybe a quick wipe down was a good idea.
And that’s the first time I realised that I had crossed the dirty line and that there was no going back.
Pooh? Pah! That’s nothing. I spent the first five years of motherhood with my nose firmly pressed against the putrid smelling rumps of my children curiously ‘just checking’. My eldest at three months used to store hers up for days and then float in it. I think she was having a secret contest as to how high up her neck she could get it to go. She once managed the hair line. I spent hours one night putting her to bed, then panicked as I thought she had filled her nappy but was too scared of waking her again to check. So what did I do? I crept into the dark room, ran my finger inside her babygrow and came back out the room to check. She had. And strangely I didn’t think that was disgusting, just sensible and considerate. As the years go on and you’ve had to scoop turds out of baths, potties, flower beds and scrubbed it off carpets and your favourite trousers you no longer gag, you merely shrug and get on with it. Because shit happens.
Sick? Oh don’t talk to me about sick. I am the Queen of Vomit. You know you are a true mum when you grab your poorly toddler out of bed and let her throw up on you rather than have to change the sheets for the third time that night. You know you have mastered the hurl when you have two travel sick kiddies in the car and, having forgone bucket holding duties as your arse no longer fits between two car seats, you find yourself swivelling around in the passenger seat and cupping their sick in your hands. I’ve spent many a journey in an Excorcist-like contortion with warm puddles of vomit dripping through my fingers whilst calmly (well, not really) requesting that ”Daddy please stop the bloody car NOW!”
Or even worse (yes, it gets worse) the time I was driving and my then-toddler was sick (for your info you can’t trust them to aim into a bag/bucket/their own hands until they are three years old) and then proceeded to squeal with glee as she picked out the raisins from her vomit and ate them again. And I had to helplessly watch her from my rear view mirror while swallowing down my own bile.
I now have two pretty girls aged 3 and 5 who like pink, they waltz and glide everywhere and insist on painted nails and sparkly shoes. But they are still disgusting – and by all accounts boys are worse. The only green my girls will eat are their own bogeys, and it’s the only time I don’t insist on sharing. They scratch their bottoms then smell their fingers. They love fart jokes (okay, so do I). They also push me off the toilet to see what I have ‘done,’ then like to play the game of ‘what does the pooh look like’ – which is a little like cloud gazing, but less romantic. In fact my three year old pooped out a turd reindeer the other day – it took all my willpower not to Facebook it. They jump in dirty puddles with bare feet, they eat things off the floor (some days I am tempted to sprinkle their dinner around the living room in a chicken-feeding fashion so that they actually eat something, other than their bogeys of course), they lick everything, and I mean everything, and they never ever wash their hands before they eat. Ha! As if that would make any difference.
So there you have it. I am immune to the disgusting. In fact I can genuinely, sticky hand on heart, tell you that I doubt there is anything left that can turn my stomach. Except maybe PDA’s, I still have an issue with grown-ups French-kissing in public.