So the other day after the kids were in bed and I began my nightly ritual of lounging on the couch with a beer and pretending I don't have kids, Jeff hopped on the computer to do a little uninterrupted surfing. I was deeply engrossed in a show of cultural and historical significance (I think it was Footloose), when I heard Jeff groan from the kitchen,
"Bekah. That is so disgusting."
I almost jumped up, convinced that he'd caught me taking a swallow of beer that was three weeks beyond its Born On Date. (Because he works in a brewery for a living, Jeff has turned into somewhat of a snob when it comes to a bottle of suds. If beer came from a cow, he would insist on drinking only that which came fresh from the animal's udders. I think his career has somewhat ruined his appetite for anything but recently bottled Anheuser-Busch products. Thank God he's not a gynecologist.)
"What's so disgusting?" I asked.
"This!" He pointed at the computer screen, where I could just make out my One Mom's Trash blog onscreen. "You actually dug through the garbage at the doctor's office?"
"Oh. Well, yeah. I mean...it wasn't really full."
"Still, you willingly put your hands in a biohazard?"
"Good grief, Jeff, it wasn't a biohazard. All it had was crumpled up table paper."
"And used ear speculums."
"It really wasn't that gross. Our garbage here is much grosser."
"People put rubber gloves and snotty tissues in there."
"I didn't see anything like that in there."
"And then you went and blogged about it." Jeff sounded appalled, as if the only thing worse than the woman he married rolling up her sleeves and rummaging through a pediatrician's trash can was her announcing this to the blogosphere. If he only knew what I rescue from our toilet on any given week....
"So what?" I asked. Yes, I was starting to get defensive. Because I was suddenly growing paranoid that my readers don't find my weekly epitaphs about my children's bodily functions and exasperating antics nearly as endearing as I'd thought. I began to doubt every word I'd ever written about my children--the book, the articles, the blogs, the stories I've been collecting for months and months like a stand-up comic preparing bits for various shows--and wonder if it's entertaining at all. My God, do people think I'm really that revolting? Does no one else out there let her dog lick spilled macaroni and cheese from the floor? Does anyone else pinch her children when they try to run from her in the toy aisle at Target because she doesn't want to shout and have everyone within earshot judge her for being a bad mom and losing her temper? Are my words just echoing out to an empty universe where I am the only Occasional Bad Mom floating around in the void?
But that I thought about all the other moms out there who have left me comments or told me in person that they totally understood such-and-such entry, about how they have Been There, or Are There Now, or Can See There looming on the horizon like a bratty storm cloud blowing toward them. And I realized that if my husband wants to think I'm disgusting for digging through a garbage can to find my son's matchbox car and my hair clip, then I'll let him go ahead and think that. I know many of you out there would have done exactly the same thing as me. We are Moms, dammit. We dig through garbage to retrieve toys. We paw under carseats to scrounge up enough quarters for our kid to ride a merry-go-round. We drink our kids' backwash because they want to taste our iced tea. We blow on food that's too hot and apply the proper amount of sunscreen and offer up the last M&M or bite of ice cream. We do everything we can to make sure our kids are happy, healthy, and will grow up to be functioning members of society (although sometimes our efforts result in our kids being whiny ingrates who can't wipe their own asses until they're 9...but we still do our best. More or less.)
That being said, I would like to throw out the disclaimer that we were at the doctor's office early in the morning, when the garbage can was pretty empty, and I didn't come in contact with any rubber gloves, used tissues, diapers, hypodermic needles, old bandaids, raccoons fighting over chicken bones, or Oscar the Grouch. And I washed my hands thoroughly afterwards. And if we had been in a gas station restroom and flies had been buzzing around the garbage can and Elsa had thrown away something really important, like her pacifier or the car keys, I likely would not have pilfered through the trash for them.
I would have made her do it.