I am Melvin Udall…


I have been changing diapers now for going on 11 years. That is about 7 years longer than I had originally planned. I have a chance to end that finally. The Baby is 2+ and clearly showing all the signs that he is ready. I actually think he has taken himself potty a couple of times, so, yeah, um ready. But it hasn’t happened yet. He’s ready. The problem lies with me.

To preface my situation, I have been covered in horror that doesn’t deserve details…but I’m going to give some of them anyway because I’m that kind of person. My firstborn son wasn’t home  2 hours when he peed on me. And when I say on…I mean in my mouth, which was baby-talking my love for him at the time.  In moments like that you will thank God for your natural instincts taking over and making you jerk out of the line of fire, because the thinking park of your brain is too busy trying to take in what it happening to it…”Wait. Is he…? No way is this actually happening. NO WAY!”

At least one of them has thrown up in my mouth when I was laying on the floor and giving him flying time. (Really, I have been thrown up on more times than bears thinking about). I have an unspeakable story about one son learning to remove his own diaper. There was the infamous stomach flu of ’01 that swept through the triplets, and oh dear God, did it sweep through them. There was an event during a diaper change that I still need therapy for, and countless times that I have just stepped fully clothed in the shower with a recently exploded child. There was the child who was obsessed with playing in the toilet at a time when his 5 year old siblings routinely left the door to the bathroom open and often didn’t flush. And then there was the trauma of potty training the special needs child that scarred us both due to the weird fears and anxieties of said child when it came to his own bodily functions. I have thrown out virtually brand new clothes because of coordination and product failures.

And spectacularly, there was the time that a sleepy 4 year old child sat straddling my lap at CPK, roused briefly and then hurled repeatedly down the front of my shirt. In a moment of panicked action, I grabbed both sides of the sweat jacket I was wearing and pulled them closed like curtains coming across the stage on the performance from hell.  In a state of shock, I quietly flagged the waitress, rallied the remaining 3 troops and managed to get out of there in under 3 minutes with the meal paid, food boxed up and a mom’s eternal gratitude to the waitress who put my untouched glass of merlot in a go-cup.

With the exception of the waitress, no one around us ever knew what had happened. I had manged to contain the whole event and I considered that a huge win on my part. The Golf Pro was baffled beyond words that I would take that bullet. A win for him would have been not getting thrown up on and the restaurant and diners be damned, but the differences between men and women is another 10,000 posts worth.

Those are by no means a complete list of all the skin-crawling events that I have been subjected to by 6 children and I can’t tell you how many times I have been psychologically saved by the words of a nurse who assured me that “urine is sterile.”  The point is that you’d think I’d be tough as nails when it comes to such events by now. Completely immune to the kind of germ warfare that my children have launched at me. Able to compete with Mike Rowe for the host gig on Dirty Jobs.

But that’s not how it’s worked out. Instead, I have become steadily more and more paranoid about my environment. I fear to touch surfaces (this can include the surfaces of my children) and shudder at even the thought of brushing up against something in the bathroom.  I have become Howard Hughes. And not good-looking, rich, adventurous Howard Hughes. I mean the twitchy, obsessive, surgical glove wearing Howard Hughes.  I could kiss the ring of the person who invented Purel…you know, as long as that ring had just been cleaned in Purel of course.

I cannot bring myself to hang out in bathrooms anymore. Any bathroom, anywhere. Deep down in my own secret psychosis, they all make me think of grossly neglected, back water gas station bathrooms.  Even my own bathroom gives me Charlie Brown head spins if I think about it too long.  And forget about the kids bathroom (recall that I am the mother of sons). You could hose that room down with bleach and pine sol twice a day and I still don’t think I could do it.

I don’t know when this happened to me, but it cannot be denied anymore.  I wonder what’s next? Do I end up like the Jack Nicholson character from “As Good As it Gets,” using a fresh bar of soap every time I wash my hands under scalding hot water?  I fear the day could come.  In the meantime, the child remains in diapers and I bathe in hand sanitizer and have begun changing all my stationary monograms to H.H.