Yesterday, my son finished eating something and handed me the wrapper while cackling “You are a garbage can!”
He wasn’t just being a 5-year-old a-hole. He was parroting what I say when he hands me his trash, which is usually something along the lines of “I’m not the garbage can!”
Let’s look at the evidence though.
It’s not just my kid who hands me trash. It’s everyone’s kid. If we’re on the playground and I share snacks with five kids, five kids will march back and hand me their snack trash. And I take it, unthinkingly. Sometimes I put it in my purse.
And that’s the least of the gross stuff about being a mom. I used to know a mom who said she loved the smell of her daughter’s baby pee.
Parents are disgusting. We’re not just disgusting, we’re unabashedly disgusting. I may have some shame about the following behavior, but not enough to stop. There’s just something deep inside me that drives me to roll around in my child’s bodily fluids. Sorry. Not. Sorry.
Below, some evidence that I am, in fact, a garbage can.
1. I Wipe My Son’s Nose With My Hand
A lot of people don’t know this, but when you become a mom, your hand automatically becomes an absorbent tissue. At least that’s the only explanation I can think of for why I regularly use the back of my bare hand to wipe snot off my son’s nose. Half the time I’m just sort of rubbing things around.
2. I Pick My Son’s Boogers
My son still hasn’t really mastered blowing his nose. So when it gets clogged in there, I just reach in with my hand and pull out his boogers. It’s particularly satisfying when it’s a really big, crusty one that I pop right out. When he was a baby it was no big deal, but now that he’s a little older, I have to sort of sneak attack him to get the good ones.
3. I Rub My Spit On My Son’s Face
This is a move mom legends are made of. This is storied mom behavior. Again, now that my son’s older, he protests when I lick my hand and use my spit to rub something off his face. “Mom, that’s gross!” he’ll say, and I don’t even try to argue. I agree with him that it’s really gross while having no intention of ever stopping. Is there an evolutionary reason I have no control over this?
4. I Have My Son Spit Chewed-Up Food Into My Hand
We’ve all been there. Our kid decides mid-bite that they don’t like something and we just silently stick our cupped palm out to receive their half-chewed food. Why?! How can there not be other options than this?
5. I Eat My Son’s Leftover Food
I’ve tried to scale back on this for “fitting into my clothes” purposes. But early on in the parenthood experience, I was always scarfing my kid’s half-eaten food instead of actually finding time to make my own meal. A lot of parents say they get into the habit of finishing their kids’ meals so they don’t “waste” food. Yeah, you’re a garbage disposal.
6. I Let My Son Wipe His Hands On Me
What’s that, Cheetoh dust? Yep, right on the mom jeans. Better you look cute and mom looks like an old moldy dumpster.
7. I Gladly Touch Vomit
My son is adopted and came to live with me when he was 7 months old, so I missed the worst of the spit-up days. But nothing makes you feel more like a real parent than cleaning up vomit.
I’ve woken up covered in vomit and had to strip and change the sheets, bathe and change my screaming son, and clean myself through bleary eyes at 2 in the morning. Nothing like knowing that you are the sole person responsible for cleaning up all the puke to truly bring that “I’m in charge of a human” thing home.
But that’s nothing compared to the widespread phenomenon of parents actually catching vomit in their hands. One HuffPost mom calls it a “disgusting gut instinct” to cup her hands and catch her child’s vomit.
The thing is, gross just kind of loses all meaning when you’re a parent. Aside from the time I gagged a little cleaning a chunk of vomit out of my son’s ear, I really don’t mind his bodily fluids ― even changing diapers never really grossed me out like I expected it to.
Apparently I’m happy to wipe poop off testicles as long as I’m doing it for a little person who relies on me. Garbage can 4 lyfe, y’all.