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The Grossest Part of Motherhood

Photograph by Twenty20

Motherhood is gross. That's something we can all probably agree on. Nothing will ever fully prepare you for the first time your child has a diaper blowout that reaches the shoulders of their onesie. Or the vomit that will happen directly in your face during that first stomach bug. There is no equipping yourself for the number of boogers you will find on various pieces of your own clothing or how low your standards will fall when it comes to the backseat of your car or the number of times you shower each week.

So much of it is so gross. I'd like to think I've handled most of that in stride. I'm not a naturally squeamish person, so I can deal with the icky stuff.

With one exception: loose teeth.

I remember this stage as a kid—and I don't recall ever being bothered by my own teeth falling out. But now that it's my child's teeth wiggling around, threatening to fall out of her head at any moment, my skin is actually crawling on a daily basis.

I can't explain where this phobia comes from, but every time my daughter wiggles a tooth back and forth, I squirm. Images of rotting corpses and angry zombies flash through my head. When she takes bites of food with those teeth I know are not firmly in place, I want to stop her and promise to blend everything she eats from this point forward. It's like nails on a chalkboard, except it's visual.

So far, she's lost four teeth and has two more that are on their way out. This has happened quickly, over the course of less than six months. Just when I think I'm over the squeamishness of the last missing tooth, another one starts to wiggle.

But the thought of 16 more teeth still needing to make an exit from her little head leaves me feeling nauseous.

I've thankfully only had to pull one of those teeth myself. The first, her teacher pulled, and the other two dropped out all on their own. One seriously just popped out of her head as we were leaving for school one morning. We heard it hit the floor before she'd even realized what had happened.

Which—just … ick.

I know I'm not alone in my disgust of this whole thing, because when we were visiting her pediatrician and I mentioned that maybe she might want to pull out the latest for me, she took a quick step back and said, "Nope. That's the one thing I won't do. Loose teeth really gross me out."

And there it was: My confirmation that I'm not crazy. Because if a pediatrician—someone who undoubtedly sees the grossest of the gross—is freaked out by loose teeth, there must really be something there worth being freaked out by.

Look, I'm not completely unreasonable. When push came to shove, I pulled the one tooth that was literally hanging by a thread and just had to go. I stepped up. And I only gagged once.

But the thought of 16 more teeth still needing to make an exit from her little head leaves me feeling nauseated.

And yet, in true mom form—I've kept all four of the teeth she's already lost. I don't know why. I have no idea what I'm going to do with them, or why this is something I would hold onto. They still seriously gross me out, but they now exist in a bag on the top shelf of my medicine cabinet.

Motherhood is gross. And keeping teeth, umbilical cords, and hair is apparently just what we do. Like serial killers. Only, more nurturing.

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