The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

The Space in Between

So yeah, I totally agree with you. The way I anal-retentively carve and lovingly salt-water-bathe apple slices for my children every day is borderline insanity at its finest. But lest you think I’m that conscientious about all my mothering tasks, you should really take a look at this…

"Peek-a-boo!!!" {Eewwww!}

That’s a public restroom, folks. And those are two of my three beautiful children, joyfully exploring the space in between the stalls: that magic box that exists only in public Ladies’ Rooms.

The very box where we deposit our used feminine hygiene products so they won’t clog the toilet. The box that millions of women touch with hands that have been just handling their dirty pads and tampons.

"Mom! My head totally fits in this hole!"

I can’t think of a more pathogen-laden germ hole in a public restroom than this magic box that is sooooo appealing to children of all ages.

So yeah… about these pictures. Before you call D-FACS, let me explain. Two things are happening here.

One, I have three kids. The first kid is the “practice kid.” You’d wrap that child in a plastic bubble if you could. You make him wear a helmet… everywhere. As a baby, when his pacifier would fall to the ground, you would boil it. You probably also had a number of back up binkies sterilized in your high-end diaper bag just in case this happened when you were out and about at a “Mommy and Me” infant swim class or story time at the library.

By the time the second kid comes along, you are a little more laid back. You know the drill and you’re not as freaked out by every little thing. If that pacifier falls to the ground, you quickly rinse it in the sink. You have a back up binkie, but you can’t find it. And P.U., how long has this dirty diaper been in my diaper bag?

Third child? Fuhgetaboudit. You are so tired and overwhelmed all the time that your previously high standards are out the window. When that pacifier hits the floor, you pick it up and dip it in your 32 ounce Diet Coke to wash it off, then you lick it. Good as new. Diaper bag? What diaper bag? You have one diaper, a stack of Chick-Fil-A napkins, and a juice box in the bottom of your purse. It will have to do.

So yes, I’m tired, I’m jaded, and my hygiene standards are low.

And if you’ve ever taken a 4 year old boy into a public restroom, you know how revolting and exhausting it is. They crawl on the floor. They touch EVERYTHING. They put their heads dangerously close to the toilet bowl to see what’s in there.

Like George Costanza, my 4 year old son must completely disrobe to drop the kids at the pool. And where do those clothes go when he starts ripping them from his body before I can free my hands to catch them? The floor. My apologies to this nice man who is likely to have a seizure if he reads this.

Your gentle pleas of “Honey, that’s gross, don’t touch that please,” quickly morph into verbal assaults of “STOP IT!” and “NO NO NO NO NO” and “OH MY GOD, GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THAT TOILET!” You fear that if you utter any version of “No” one more time, you will snap. You will. And it won’t be pretty. So you accept the things you cannot change and vow to give the kid the scrubbing of his life when you get home.

The second force at work here is the fact that I am a writer, a blogger, a digital expositionist. Bloggers see the world through a different lens. Suddenly everything in your life has an angle and a story to go with it. If you can capture an image of it somehow, even better. My friend Kate sums it up best in her brilliant post, A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging:

Get used to disapproving looks from other mothers when your child falls in the street and you scramble for the camera instead of picking her up.

Guilty as charged. Who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth like this:

"I see you! Wait...what's that smell?"

Hey, at least the box was empty, right? I like to believe that even I would have put the kibosh on this rousing game of Peek-a-Boo if it was happening above the rising fumes of a freshly deposited maxi pad.

There is a very wide space in between the mother I was 11 years ago and the mother I am today. Just like the wide space between my over-the-top apple prepping standards and my apparently lacking maternal instinct to shield my children from blood-borne pathogens. And frankly, I enjoy that space. There is a lot of wiggle room there. Room to breathe and to make mistakes. It’s a good thing.

So please, know that the mom who buys a special cleaner to wash potential poo off the kids’ apples, also lets her kids stick their FACES in the dirty tampon receptacle… and photographs it. Awesome.

The space in between… clearly enormous and inconsistent, but also somewhat  entertaining in a trainwrecky sort of way, no? Next time you are beating yourself up for a parenting sin, come on over. I’ll wrap you up, {deposit you in a metal bin}, and make you feel better.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

23 comments on “The Space in Between

  1. allysgrandma
    March 31, 2011

    I love it when I wake up to a funny new post. Actually that would be waking up for about the 4th time….I outdid myself with two kinds of lasagna made for dinner, then took some leftovers to our friends down the street along with a thawed Claim Jumpers choco cream pie, add that to the prednisone taper I am on and it adds up to no sleep again……at least I got a good giggle. And hey I can attest to the third child thing….our youngest was spoiled rotten, she the baby born when the other girls were very well behaved 6 and 8 year oldsm who did what I said by the count of three. I can remember my husband and I tired after a long day of work, telling her to do something, her saying no and us sort of looking at each other like …what are we supposed to do now…..oh good ahead..just leave us alone….

  2. allysgrandma
    March 31, 2011

    that should say oh go ahead…..I need to go turn on the coffee here at 5;22AM

  3. Christy
    March 31, 2011

    Eeeeeewwwwww! But I loved reading every moment of it!

  4. Sue
    March 31, 2011

    First off…. don’t think so high & mighty of yourself….you’re not the first parent whose kids have played on the floors of restrooms ….. mine have crawled under every stall while I’ve been stuck peeing in the handicapped one – alone with the stroller that they’ve escaped from… I’ve done all that binky wiping stuff already too…. although, I didn’t have the diet Coke, I just licked it & then spit out the fuzz myself!….the things we do for love And the helmet thing is the same too….. only my kids were going down a dirt pile littered with broken glass, sticks, wire & sharp rocks in a wagon (towing the tricycle behind of course) heading towards the side of the barn all while their loving father & uncle watched (beer-in-hand) from the patio. Sheesh!

    Besides, what ‘normal’ things would we have to talk about if our kids weren’t a little screwed up & germy? What’s that saying? “Normal” is just a setting on your dryer.

    You’re the best! You will be the one with the kids who think outside the box, who love life, who can laugh, have healthy relationships, who know how to love & work though things despite hard times. All because YOU let them be ‘normal’ and took pictures & laughed instead of screaming. Keep up the good work.

    PS. Never saw that Veggie Wash that you posted about…. wouldn’t you know, went to the store yesterday & there it was in the first aisle I walked down.

  5. Anne
    March 31, 2011

    Iris. Don’t say another word! I have a 4 year old boy! Enough said. Don’t ya just love it when you take them in the stall with you and they said “Mummy, are you doing a poo?” “Yes, lovey, Mummy’s doing a poo.” “Why?” “Because.” And at the top of their voice, “Ha ha. Mummy’s doing a big slugger.” Just charming. LOL We don’t go out much! (Yes we do. I get funny looks from people who don’t have 4 year old boys.)

  6. I'm So Fancy
    March 31, 2011

    Speechless. But at least now I think you’re more normal. 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris
      April 2, 2011

      More normal than what?

  7. Megan
    March 31, 2011

    It hurts. It just hurts it’s so funny.

    1. Why did you have a camera with you in the ladies?
    2. I take pictures of the daily messes Zoe makes. If I didn’t take pictures and blog about it, I’d cry about it, so there’s that.

    • The Bearded Iris
      March 31, 2011

      It’s just built into my new phancy phone. I don’t usually take my REAL camera into the loo… unless one of my kids leaves a spyhopper that defies verbal description. Kidding… I am only a recreational animal scat photographer. Human waste? No thanks.

  8. Megan
    March 31, 2011

    I just sent this out to Zoe’s entire playgroup. They are going to think I am sick.

    funniest. post. ever.

  9. Rebekah
    March 31, 2011

    So, if I understand this correctly, you have two modes: fastidiously hygienic or borderline hazmat – does that about cover it? I can totally get on board with that.

    • The Bearded Iris
      March 31, 2011

      That about sums it up. Welcome aboard, toots.

  10. Carrie
    March 31, 2011

    OMG…that is absolutely hysterical!!! As a mother of 4 I have some pretty unusual and entertaining pictures but these top them all!!! Thanks for the laugh!!

  11. Joanne
    March 31, 2011

    Just have to tell you again how much I love your open and honest style. You are the real deal and I think we all need a bit of real in our lives to make all the real crap bearable. I am thinking you must feel like you just cleansed your soul after you blog because you hold nothing back. Never worried how it will sound or heaven forbid, what we will think. Sort of like going to confession without the 842 Hail Marys price tag. You rock. I want to be more like you. I need to be more like you!

  12. MikeP
    April 1, 2011

    “Here’s Johnny!”

    Very funny, Iris. Looking forward to the TV series based on this. Who will be your Shatner though? I’m thinking Amy Sedaris.

    • The Bearded Iris
      April 2, 2011

      Oh bless you, my friend. I’m not worthy to even empty her feminine hygiene receptacle, let alone imagine her playing me neglecting my children NEAR a feminine hygiene receptacle. I loves me some Amy Sedaris. Have you seen her new book “Simple Times: Crafting for Poor People” ? BRILLIANT.

  13. laura lee
    April 1, 2011

    OMG, what do the apples in Bucket Head’s lunch box look like?

  14. Kristen K.
    April 2, 2011

    Bloody Brilliant…as always.

    • The Bearded Iris
      April 2, 2011

      NICE. PUN. You rock.

  15. Andrew D'Cuzzen
    April 2, 2011

    I’ve never seen one of the boxes you’re talking about, but I can assure you that there’s nothing to worry about. It was in a WOMEN’S restroom. There’s nothing gross about a women’s room. If they had been in a MEN’S room, I’d have recommended soaking the children overnight in Purell.

    Excellent blog! LOVE it. I am now a fan. Adding it to my Android bookmarks. (No, I don’t have an iPhone. Take THAT, AT&T!)

  16. Rochelle
    April 2, 2011

    Reminds me of some of my Mother of the Year moments. I actually hit my daughter in the face at opening day of softball. Yup right in the chin. At that time I did not take any pictures–can’t have any evidence right??

  17. domestic Extraordinaire
    April 4, 2011

    Love this!! Also, I had no idea that the stalls were connected in that way.

    Thanks for playing along at Aiming Low’s Capture It.

  18. Megan
    April 6, 2011

    Okay first, I had NO IDEA those receptacles went through to the other stall! Second, you are so right about mommy hood!!! I just sat here laughing so hard I almost choked on my pretzels! Thanks 🙂

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