Wiping your child’s ass is a delicate balance between breathing through your mouth so as to eliminate the invasive odour, but simultaneously attempting to avoid actually inhaling an entire sewerage systems worth of invisible poo particles into your mouth, mid wipe.
I know this because it is an elegant waltz of malodour and thinly veiled repulsion that I dance daily with my four year old twins.
It is also something pre-children that I never gave pause to think about.
As a parent, your boundaries change, the goal posts by which you measure how much goo related atrocity you can take in one day are thoroughly repositioned and you can basically make whole meals for yourself out of your child’s half masticated and subsequently rejected food.
The foundations are laid well in advance for the loss of inhibition, personal boundaries, dignity and general lack of togetherness that comes with parenting by virtue of the repertoire of leg spreading, multi textured discharges and cervical salad servers involved in the deliberate persecution of ones nether regions, more commonly known as pregnancy and birth. And perhaps one might say to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
One might also say parenting is an anagram of “what the fuck am I doing?”
But what I find is a fixed point in an uncertain world is that my children find new ways to own me daily.
Whether it’s your 17 month old pointing to the TV sales guy in JB Hifi and repeatedly saying “dick dick dick” for twenty minutes straight, or whether it’s one of your four year olds bringing out a box of (colourfully wrapped) tampons while a group of your husbands burly fireman work colleagues are over and asking if anyone would like to use one of mummies crayons, there’s always a fun and fantastic selection of ways to be humiliated by the spawn of ones loins.
Those five people that read my blog religiously will be familiar with the copious anecdotal evidence proving I am by no means immune to public humiliation at the hands of my children. Please refer to exhibit a, exhibit b and exhibit c.
But I have noted lately that there are a selection of categories that, as my children grow up, opportunities to own me are increasingly falling into.
I am an adult woman who weighs roughly five times that of my 18 month old baby girl.
And yet, attempting to change her nappy is like being a newborn fawn wrestling with an angry crocodile who’s just shat itself mid death roll. Multiple times a day.
Children have an armoury of manoeuvres designed to test your physical strength and ultimately reinforce that actually, you are weak as piss, and they have the strength of a thousand Vikings concealed within their scrawny, fledgling limbs.
Whether it be sudden onset floppy limbs in the checkout queue, abrupt grand malseizure imitation induced by the mere sight or suggestion of pants, or the extreme flapping, thrashing and back arching of a deep sea fish in the throes of death when attempting to strap them into the pram instead of walking at 1km an hour in the wrong direction with dried white dog excrement in hand, kids have the ability to turn simple tasks into complex negotiations causing you to question the ability to use your own limbs.
And yet somehow at the end of a long day you’re still required to muster up the strength to carry them to bed because they’re “too tired to walk”. Go figure.
As a mother I feel at times my knowledge base is limited to a mental catalogue of public toilets.
Whilst I would love to attest that I am an encyclopaedic storehouse of answers, I am increasingly finding myself short of infinite wisdom and instead relying on old faithful responses like “it just is”, “because I said so” and old mate “ask daddy”, otherwise known as “no fucking idea”.
One might say that as parents we have an unending arsenal of back up on which to rely when it comes to the curly questions presented to us by our children. And I must confess, google has answered many a probing question in our household, including but not limited to “what would happen to the world if all the flies died?” (zombie apocalypse FYI) and “do frogs have belly buttons?” (no).
Google may be an inexhaustible cache of answers to questions as posed to you by your four year old while you’re doing a wee, but as it turns out not even google can outwit the brain of a child…so if someone can tell me which arm rest in a movie theatre is yours, then the tense, tight lipped standoff in my house surrounding the correct cinema protocol might finally be put to rest.
And if ever in doubt as to the state of the world for future generations, your four year old son randomly starts referring to alcoholic beverages at parties as “confidence” and you legit believe his innate wisdom could make this country great again.
Parenting is wanting to be with your child forever one minute, and being tempted to exchange them for cupcakes the next.
My three children have inherited just enough game from their mother to have become skilled tacticians in the art of using love as a means to reach a desired outcome. And unsurprisingly, I’m a total sucker for it. There is not any part of me that is impervious to the cunning sorcery of bottom lip quivers and two month old Labrador puppy eyes aimed pointedly in my direction.
I’m clearly still figuring that out as I go along, but what I do know is this.
It is love that is the glue when everything is falling apart. Love that opens the second story at bedtime when you said you were only going to read one and you’re secretly desperate to go and watch The Bachelor. It is love that says “maybe next time” when your daughter’s heart is broken because you laughed at her for suggesting she sit on your lap when you’re on the toilet.
Because when it comes down to it, the thing your children own daily, is your heart.
And when all else fails, I find “I love you too darling but can we love each other from separate couches” works quite well.