There’s one show that I’ve always loved: Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. The chance to explore the crazy jobs that people choose to pursue and the high level of muck, mud and human waste just makes for great TV in my opinion. In fact there was even a time that Mike Rowe inspired me to find a manly man who wasn’t afraid to get his hands (or pants) dirty.
However then I watched the dead cow being ground to pulp episode and switched gears completely to marry a nice IT guy who works in a skyscraper downtown. His dirtiest job is handing Houston traffic each day, which might actually be worse than bloated cow corpses.
A few years ago I thought that all the dirty jobs had pretty much been done by Mike Rowe. He had transversed America and found them all. There was no more room for mud patches on his pants or wild animals to bite his neck. It was over.
Then I became a parent.
A few years into this journey and I’ve realized that the dirtiest job of them all was omitted from the show: parenthood.
You see, being a parent is basically wading into a holding tank full of body fluids with your mouth open wide and screaming, “give me your best shot!”.
Before I was a parent I worked as a daycare teacher. Many horrific scenes were witnessed there on the front lines of childcare. There was the mother that caught her son’s puke in her own hand while I tried to hold my own back. Or the memories of the great RotoVirus outbreak that the manager refused to acknowledge and the sick kids that kept pouring in (and out) day after day.
I still didn’t think any of that would happen to me when I was a parent. No, never.
Pregnancy was a time of blinded joy. Pink clouds swirled around giraffes stuffed with lavendar. Magical. Dreams and hopes of all the greatness your child could achieve was paled only by the lovely yellow hue of the nursery walls.
And then I sneezed.
Within seconds I realized that there is no magic in parenting. It’s a dirty job made for women with weak pregnancy induced bladders and the men that try their hardest not to laugh at them.
First comes the infant year. With the first child you’ll consider wearing gloves for the diaper changes. With your last you’ll smell it an examine it for bowel health. Spit up will be your uniform and the bags under your eyes will be your badge. You’ll figure out that it’s not mustard in the diaper hopefully before you touch it but not always.
Then there’s the toddler years. Oh goodness. There will be mud pies made in your kitchen sink and maybe you’ll discover this before they eat the pie they so carefully made. Don’t worry, they’ll probably accompany it with a side of june bug for protein washed down with glue. The good news is that you’ll get to clean it all up, including what you tried to keep down upon discovering this amazing lunch recipe prepared for you by your toddler.
After their snack it’ll be art time…. probably involving the diaper they just discovered how to take off and the wall by their crib at naptime.
Finally it’ll be bath time where the dog will simply just lick them clean right after it finished grooming it’s hind quarters.
Parenting. It’s dirty but at least your kids are clean if you own a dog.
Enter preschool and potty training. It’s also when they discover the nose and edible secrets held within.
By this time you’ll be so used to parenting that finding a child with diarrhea running down it’s leg and across your floor is simply a challenge. So you’ll jump in gloveless hand first and get busy because you’re a parent, you’ve got this.
The gross factor has been eradicated because by now… nothing phases you. Nothing. Until the day that you find they took the lid of the glue and there’s a trail of glue going up the stairs, around the playroom, down the hall, over the bed, out the door and back around again…. and it’d dry. Just be glad it’s not a body fluid.
Then there will be school aged kids when the body fluids are less but the smell as they get older gets worse. At times you might even prefer to live with a skunk. There will also be science experiments involving rotting apples and mold found wherever they left it and if you’re really lucky, it’ll be buried under the 3ft of dirty mildewed clothes hidden in the back of their closet.
Enter the teen years. I can’t even handle the thought of it much less the admittance of what it will look like.
Parenting. It’s a dirty dirty job.
The good news is that one day we’ll pass on the torch to our dow eyed grown children as they have their own babies. We’ll get frantic hologram messages in the future from our own children asking how to get the wretched smelling green mystery stain out of their new couch as we’ll just laugh. and laugh. and pee ourselves.
Parenting. It’s the dirtiest job.
(If you want to check out why my child was literally blue you can check out that post here)