Ten years ago, if someone had told me that someday I’d love a person capable of biting his own toenails without feeling a lick of shame about his disgusting grooming habit, I would have scoffed. That’s right, I would have completely disregarded the person prophesying my love for a dirty toenail biter. The prophet would have been on the receiving end of one of my trademark sneers of disgust (I don’t do that on purpose, they are naturally occurring phenomenon). I’d have bid that person a curt farewell and turned on my heel without a bit of remorse at leaving an insane person in my dust. Well, if I had scoffed at that prediction, I’d look like a fool today and I’d be forced to apologize for being such a self-righteous, snooty bitch.

This afternoon I called Joe into the bathroom to help him clip his toenails. (Yes, this is one of the more glamorous requirements of motherhood.) I’ll admit it, in the winter months when their little feet are covered in socks, I tend to forget the toenails. So shoot me, there are worse acts of neglect than failure to clip a six-year-old kid’s gnarly little toenails.

Anywho, since he was in the middle of a rousing game of Super Mario, my beck and calls were being largely ignored. Somewhere around my third and increasingly screechy demand to “get upstairs RIGHT NOW or so help me…”, he yelled back, “It’s okay, I trimmed them myself!”

Silenced by his declaration, I stood in my bathroom with the toenail clippers in hand, wearing a look of bewilderment. In one of those weird moments where a million different scenarios rush through a mom’s mind, I wondered how he had found the clippers. I worried that he had cut himself or even worse, had gangrenous ingrown toenail festering.

Trying to play it cool, I meandered downstairs and asked exactly when he’d last trimmed his nails. “Uh…all the time”, he absently responded while ground-pounding Bowser. I began to think that I’d missed some sort of shift in maturity that carried a new interest in personal grooming. “So, what did you use to trim them?” My question was followed with a sigh and a look of annoyance. “Well, Joe?” He impatiently answered, “My teeth” and rolled his eyes. If he had added a ‘duh’ to the end of his statement I wouldn’t have been shocked.

After a lengthy discussion about proper grooming methods, I left the room and began pondering some of the atrocious, gag-inducing moments we’ve experienced over the past six years. 

It all began with the dried up umbilical cord. It fell off and clung to the front of my shirt as I held my newborn son. All I could see was that tiny little blackened and shriveled appendage. I gagged and someone had to come in and remove it for me. Needless to say, I’m not one of those mothers who lovingly placed the disembodied umbilical cord into a tiny bag and pasted it into a baby book for future viewing.

Months later, following a week-long vacation, we returned to our little apartment with our newly-crawling son. Our cat, a very fuzzy Persian named Rosie O’Kitty, held down the fort in our absence. Despite the cat sitter’s daily interaction, Rosie tended to get a bit miffed when we left her alone. Getting miffed caused her to do weird things, like lick herself incessantly. Evidently, Rosie was pretty miffed that week because she had hacked up hairballs all over the floor. Stifling my gag reflex, I walked around the apartment and picked up petrified wads of cat hair/vomit before the baby was allowed on the floor. I wiped each spot with disinfecting cleaner and congratulated myself for having it all under control.

Minutes later I heard chewing sounds. Thinking it was Joe’s teething ring, I continued unpacking and stumbled upon Joe’s teething ring. It took a millisecond to realize that whatever he was chewing on wasn’t good. Overcome with dread, I bent down to peer beneath the table. There he sat with his chubby little fist wrapped around an old, dried up hairball that I had missed. He used his new teeth to chomp on the dried cat hair/vomit repeatedly as I scrambled to reach him. I think I screamed and threw up in my mouth all at the same time. David came running and cringed when he saw what I was holding in my hand. Joe sat on the floor crying at the loss of his new teething ring. I sat on the floor crying in disgust. The cat sashayed over to me and stuck her fuzzy ass in my face.

Yet, I don’t think anything can trump the mother of all disgusting things. It happened last summer. It was a warm, sunny day not unlike the day before. Except that we had a new puppy…and a one year old. Our (blissfully childless) friends were minutes from our house after a long drive and, as David confirmed their location via telephone, Kate entered the kitchen wearing a face full of chocolate. Her hands were coated in it too. I thought, ‘Huh…well, that’s odd. We don’t have any chocolate in the house.” It was right about that moment that the smell hit me. My mind focused in on the fact that the thing in her hand wasn’t a melting chocolate bar. I shrieked and threw up in my mouth at the same time. David grabbed Kate and disinfected her while I scrubbed the area rug in our living room.

There was a lot of manic swearing and mouth breathing as we cleaned the baby and the rug. I’m pretty sure that I kept yelling, “Oh my god! Do you think she tasted it?”

These are the kind of things that people need to tell you about before you have children.

*Chocolate frosting…but it seemed appropriate.

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