Parenthood, like many other things, is not for the easily intimidated. Nor is it for the weak of stomach. Sure, children are adorable and snuggly — but sometimes they can be downright disgusting. It’s all part of their overall charm — and, let’s face it, part of what we parents bond over — but I’m here to acknowledge that there are some parts that are just grosser than others.
Here are my top eight grossest moments of parenthood. Read along, if you dare.
1. Infant blowouts
Nothing quite prepares you for the extent to which your baby will be able to project poop. Especially that neon yellow seedy infant poop. I remember one particularly bad blowout, on a long road trip, where my overachieving oldest child managed to get poop all the way from his socks to the top of his head, into his hair, still leaving a nice pool of it behind to slosh around in the car seat. Let’s just say the teenage McDonald’s employees had quite a laugh watching us try to clean that one up in the parking lot.
2. Starting solid foods with baby
My husband finds few things grosser than watching a baby attempt to feed itself beginner foods. Apparently, this is hereditary — my father-in-law was a trained EMT and was used to dealing with all sorts of gross and disgusting injuries. But the one thing he couldn’t stomach was watching a baby learn how to feed itself. We practiced baby-led weaning (BLW) and I 100% recommend it. But the smeared on, slobbery goop that covered every square inch of my children after every meal was enough to turn even the most stoic of stomachs.
3. Getting puked on by my toddler
What parent hasn’t had the experience of newborn spit up or toddler projectile vomit on them? There was one particular Christmas when all three of my kids caught a stomach bug, and my 1-year-old daughter would only sleep on top of me. She would wake up every hour or so, vomit on me, and then fall back asleep. Have you truly parented if you haven’t had to scrub dried vomit out of your hair after a sleepless night? I’m cringing just thinking about it.
4. Explaining mastitis to the judge (and entire court)
I received a summons for jury duty while night weaning my middle child. I started to develop an achy breast and the telltale fever the night before jury duty but couldn’t go to the doctor because, well, jury duty starts bright and early. So I reported for duty, hoping for an understanding female judge who would excuse me. Alas, I was placed with an elderly male judge who was very hard of hearing. I had the privilege of explaining, at a yell, what mastitis is, and why I needed to be excused. While not nearly as disgusting as some of my parenting moments, it ranks right up there with most embarrassing.
5. Toddler poop art
Infant poop explosions are one thing, but nothing quite beats the toddler who has learned to remove his or her own diaper during naptime and use the resulting medium to create all forms of art on the walls and crib. If you’re lucky, they’ll even get creative with where they hide it, so you’ll be smelling their “art” for weeks to come.
6. Watching my kid lick the green line train
Boston parents know the T is a wonderful amenity, serving both as amusement for our children as well as a practical way to avoid hunting for the ever-elusive downtown parking spot. However, germ-free it is not. Imagine my horror then, when one day, with all three children in tow, I looked over to see my then 5-year-old licking the railing of the green train. And it wasn’t just a little taste — he was treating it like a delicious ice cream cone of grimy, germy delight.
7. The time I found my toddler fishing in a not-flushed toilet
In our house, the toilet used to sit right next to the bathtub. My youngest discovered, as mom attempted to brush the teeth of an older sibling, that she could lean over the edge of the tub and reach into the toilet to “fish” for unflushed goodies. At one point, she climbed out of the tub and into the toilet in the 10 seconds it took me to instruct her brother to spit his toothpaste into the sink. Let’s just say a second bath was required.
8. Cleaning out the underbelly of my kids’ car seats
Have you discovered the many nooks and crevices that genius car seat engineers add to toddler safety devices? No? Your toddler has. When you remove all the cushions and padding, those crevices are a regular holy place for remnants of toddler eating. You can find rejected, crushed animal crackers, petrified orange slices, raisins that seem to bear the face of a disapproving saint, and even all the rocks and pet worms you thought were left outside. But, on the bright side, now you have found the source of that annoying smell your car always has. Congratulations!
Let’s face it, we probably should have known that all this grossness was coming after the experience of birth. Sure it is wonderful and beautiful, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But all the bodily fluids were a nice primer to the upcoming finer sides of motherhood.
But as with birth, it’s not about the mess — it’s about the baby that comes with it. My children might be some of the grossest humans on the planet, but they’re also some of the sweetest, kindest, and most wonderful. And I wouldn’t trade them for anything.