Mom: The Human Napkin
I didn’t know I would become a human napkin.
When I first became a mom, I had no idea how bad I would smell. All the weird things that happen to your body after you’ve given birth aside, things get weird when you have kids. As long as you have a nursing or bottle fed baby, you smell like sour milk. All. The. Time.
Not only do you smell but you also look like a train wreck. The standard wardrobe is jeans, t-shirt, and ponytail. You try to dress better but, as soon as you put on your nice shirt, you will inevitably get spit up and other body fluids on it. None of which, by the way, belongs to you.
When your children get to be toddlers, it’s pretty much the same only with different food stains. You don’t smell like sour milk anymore but you still look, and sometimes smell, like a mess. As you’re trying to wipe the peanut butter and jelly off their face, they grab your pant leg and now you’ve got lunch on your pants. You pick them up to comfort them after they’ve fallen, and they wipe snot from one end of your shoulder to the other.
One day you realize – You are The Human Napkin.
Suddenly, you pick your clothing based on how easy they are to clean, not on their trendiness or the fashion statement they make. When your kids are sick, you may even consider the absorbency of your shirt before you dare to wear it. Before you know it, every shirt has a stain, every pair of pants has an oil spot, and every skirt has a yellow stain that you hope blends into the flowered pattern.
I heard the term ‘human napkin’ applied to motherhood somewhere between my second and third child.
It was never more true than the day I found the tick.
I was at a family reunion. The day before my discovery we had been somewhere that had signs warning visitors to check for ticks. We had diligently checked all the kids more than once. I had just taken a shower and was running my fingers through my still damp hair. I felt a hard lump inside my hairline.
I kept feeling it and tried to look at it in the mirror but I just couldn’t see it. I tried to pull it off with my fingers but it wouldn’t budge.
That’s when I started to feel panic. Not like the fear I feel before I speak in public or when I’m about to go on stage to sing, like the kind of fear that made me want to run in circles screaming and clawing at my head.
I immediately ran downstairs to find my mom. I couldn’t find her, but I did find my sister-in-law. I asked her where my mom was but she didn’t know. She could tell something was wrong and asked if she could help.
Now, you have to understand, my sister-in-law is an amazing person. She really is superwoman. She once found a mouse in her car. When it jumped out and started to run, she grabbed a frozen pound of hamburger, threw it at the mouse, and killed it.
I’m sure she could have handled a tick. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell her what was wrong because I knew that if I did, I would completely lose whatever self-control I had left. I couldn’t let her see me completely lose my mind as I tore my own scalp to remove the little parasite. I wouldn’t tell her what was wrong. At 30 years old, I needed my mommy and fast.
At 30 years old, I needed my mommy and fast.
Now I was briskly walking, some might say running, through the house screaming for my mom. While I was panicking with wide-eyed hysteria, my sister-in-law happily followed me around the house because she knew something was up.
She later informed me, “I didn’t know what was going on but I knew it was going to be good. I didn’t want to miss it.”
Finally, I found my mom.
My mom came from a profession that is trained to handle emergencies of all kinds. In her usual calm demeanor and commanding tone, she told me to calm down. I felt a little sheepish but it made me realize the ridiculousness of my panic. I let her examine my head while I chewed my nails imaging an engorged tick gleefully sucking my blood.
Do you know what my mom said?
“It’s not alive.”
Now, I am going to admit that by this point my voice had reached a pitch I’d never heard before nor have I used since. It was part tears, part hysteria, part banshee.
So my reply of, “Did it used to be?!!!!”, may not have come out as composed as I would have liked.
“No,” my mom said, “No, not a tick. A booger.”
The Human Napkin Accepts Her Fate
Yes, I was brought to hysteria and panic by…a booger. One of my kids had a cold and guess where they rubbed their hands?
Indeed, my hair.
Not only are my clothes open to being a receptacle for my child’s cast offs but, apparently, so is my hair.
I’ve accepted my fate. I don’t smell like sour milk anymore but I’m pretty sure there is a distinct aroma of peanut butter that surrounds me 90% of the time. But the smells and stains are all part of this mom gig.
As my youngest is getting older, he doesn’t need my shirt or pants for his napkin as often. It allows me the luxury of looking back at the tick booger with a smile. I can smile at all the shirts I was excited to buy that got ruined the first time I wore them. I can smile at the pants that I’ve worn for years with stains on them. I can smile because it doesn’t really matter.
These sweet, precious little people that have used me for their napkin for the last 12 years are growing up. When I hold their hands, I realize that those hands are getting bigger and stronger. Someday they won’t want or need to hold my hand anymore.
So wipe away my little ones. This mom is ready to be your napkin as long as you need. However, I wouldn’t mind if you kept your boogers out of my hair.