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The Five Second Rule: The Secret Gross Thing Moms Do

Exasperated woman holding her hair up in frustrationI’m helping my 2-year-old into the car. She’s about to climb into her car seat when she gets distracted by the sight of day’s old food on the floor mat. She jumps down, picks up the remnants of a goldfish cracker (I hope) and yells, “Five-second rule!” (Which when uttered by a toddler sounds more like “5eckedwool.” She then proceeds to inhale what’s left of the cracker as if it’s manna from heaven.

My husband looks at me with that raised eyebrow/all knowing/he’s going say something annoying look that only a spouse could love. “You know where she got that from,” he says. His eyes have already answered the question. My daughter got the gross habit from me.

Before you go thinking I’m some sort of Neanderthal and that my children are actually being raised by wolves, let me explain. I’m a very clean person who does not eat food of the floor. But in parenting, like life, there are exceptions. Sometimes a piece of food like a cracker or not-yet-washed fruit will fall on the floor. But by the time it comes within a millimeter of the floor, I’ve already caught it. Do I eat it? Yeah; unless it’s visibly filthy or fallen in some sort of HazMat zone.

Exceptions come up with kids all the time leaving a Mom no choice but to surrender to grossness. I once took my kids to the park and didn’t bring my purse filled with the normal array snacks and water. My son had a snack pack of Pirate’s Booty in his hand and it dropped. In effort to avert the potential “I’m going to starve because Mommy didn’t bring any other snacks” meltdown than only comes when a Mom leaves the house hands-free, I picked up the Booty that didn’t fall in a puddle, mud, or dog poop, brushed it off and gave it back to my son.

Thus the 5-second-rule.

The truth is, being a Mom is really gross. It’s impossible to avoid. It’s part of the job description of a people-raiser.  Before I had kids, I feared changing diapers.  But changing a dirty diaper is nothing compared to cleaning a sinus-infected nose.  A new Mom may change 12 diapers a day, but she’ll pick 12 noses a week as well. Occasionally, she’ll even marvel at her findings.

Cleaning up a kid’s puke seems nasty until the first time that kid pukes on you. Trust me, I’ve done both. I’ll clean it anytime as long as I don’t have to wear it.  And neither compares to the first time a Mom has to introduce her child to the wonderful world of suppositories. 

Moms of infant boys know what it’s like to go to change the little guy’s diaper and get pee’d on instead.  I can even tell you what it’s like to have my little man pee in my mouth, as if he were aiming. I’ve caught my son’s poop with my very own hands and pulled a small round bead out of my daughter’s nose with my very own hands as well. 

So when I’m faced with a kid who wants to eat a mashed up cracker from the floor of the car that’s probably been stepped on or worse, I’m not really concerned. My kids are going to be parents someday. Their children will sneeze, puke and poop on them. Just like me, my kids will brush themselves off, get over the nasty puke smell in their hair, try to forget what it’s like to put a suppository in a small person’s rear and help their kids get that last Cheeto off the floor of the car. Lord knows it’ll be the cleanest thing they do all day.

How gross are you? Do tell. I told you mine…