I'm a huge clean freak. I'm also a recovering perfectionist who traditionally hated when things weren't totally under control; who would literally break out in hives over the thought of getting in trouble with others or making people unhappy. Before I had kids, a huge part of my fear of having them was the mess they generate. Could I really take care of a sick kid? Or deal with another person's poop multiple times a day? Turns out, the answer is yes. The list of the things that don't scare me since becoming a mom is pretty long, still growing, and full of things my former self couldn't have imagined.
Motherhood can toughen a person up like few other experiences can. When you're suddenly responsible for the continued existence of small people who can do very little for themselves, and who aren't born with the lifetime of conditioned responses and inhibitions that stop most (though not all) people from acting like violent balls of poop and snot, you get over a lot of fears and hang-ups fast. When you have to look past abject nastiness to take quick action to protect one of the most precious people in your life from harm, you find reserves of tolerance and strength inside yourself you may not have even known you had.
All of a sudden, the same stuff that freaked me out before? Not such a big deal now. A little dirt here and there? Not the end of the world. Bodily fluids? Meh. Whatevs. Somebody in my life trying to give me sh*t for God knows what reason? Tell ‘em what's up. Unless it's a clear and present danger to my family, most stuff that used to scare me holds no sway over me now that I'm a mom. Certainly not the following:
I still think poop is disgusting, obviously. However, I've had other people’s poop on me and I didn't die, so I now know that I can withstand basically anything.
See above, basically. I'm not happy about being peed on, ever, but now I know I can withstand pee without disintegrating or erupting in anger. Great to know!
There was a time when someone puking on me was basically a guarantee that I’d flip out. Now that I've graduated college, stopped wearing hand wash only items to parties (or, you know, ever), and become a parent, it's not nearly as big a deal.
Mucus, too, remains a gross thing, but it also has no power over me anymore. I can do literally anything through a hail of snot, be it nasal aspiration with a nosefrida, or a necessary hug during a total meltdown.
Do I still shower before taking a relaxing bath? Yes, because baths are tiny ponds of parboiled human filth otherwise. But do I freak out when my son splashes me in the face during bath time, or hugs me after playing in a pile of muddy leaves? Only mildly.
Grown People Having Temper Tantrums
Now that I have weathered full on toddler tantrums and meltdowns, grown people freak-outs don't scare me in the slightest (unless and until I see a credible threat of violence). Oh, somebody's upset with a decision I made? They don't like something I wrote? Shrug.
Other People Crying
I've been a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom for the the bulk of the last two years, which means I've spent the majority of my waking hours over that time period with a person whose vocabulary still depends heavily upon various kinds of screams.
My son's cries cut right through me, for sure. But honestly, tears and crying are just language now. So other people's cries are literally like reading the code for The Matrix to me now. I understand what it means, I can react appropriately, but I'm not undone by it. I'm unafraid to sit and support people who are upset, letting them feel whatever feelings come; I don't need to shush them or stop their tears at all costs any more. I'm unafraid to cry when I feel like it; again, it's just language. I'm also totally unbothered by grown people who try to use their tears or the threat of such to guilt me or anyone else out of holding them accountable for their behavior.
Being Laughed At
As a former teacher, and now a mom and stepmom, I've been laughed at and made fun of by the bluntest people possible: kids. Totally OK with me now.
Being Kicked, Punched, Or Bitten
When you've dealt with an out-of-control toddler kicking, hitting, punching and biting you — and done so calmly, lovingly, and without retaliating in kind — the prospect of another person doing that gets a lot less frightening. Especially in a situation where you know you can actually hit back.
Do loud noises get my attention? Sure. Do I assess them to ensure that if I and everyone I care about and am responsible for is safe? Am I scared? Not until I see sharp objects and/or fire in the same vicinity as the sound. Otherwise, it's just another day trying to get my toddler to brush his teeth.
What could possibly be more embarrassing than greeting people in a crowded room, while literally wearing another human being’s crap, until you can get to your diaper bag and change?