Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mommy Wars

Dignity? Who Needs It

by, Kasie West

I sat down to check my e mail and smeared across the back of my hand was a dried booger. Yes, dried, as in, it had been there for a while. It would have been disgusting enough had it been my own, but it wasn’t. It was my two-year-old son’s. It would have been understandable had I not remembered exactly how it had gotten there, which would have been the case on any other day (there had been other days).

As I looked at this particular booger, however, I knew how it had come to be there. It had been bath time, it had been hanging out of his nose, and I had wiped it, (with my finger, of course, what else would I wipe it with?) and as I had gone to throw it away, it had disappeared. I thought to myself at the time, ‘Huh, I wonder where that booger went?’ And then just as quickly I had thought, ‘oh well.’

So, fast-forward to the now dried up booger. What would I do? Would I get a tissue for it, like I should have done when I originally saw it hanging out of his nose? Or would I let it sit for another few minutes while I checked my e mail? It wasn’t getting any drier or less disgusting, of course I waited. Which brought me to the question I asked myself a lot as a mother of four children under the age of ten—did I have any dignity left? And the answer I always came back with was—of course not.

What was dignity anyway? I was already checking my e-mail. It wouldn’t take much longer to jump onto a dictionary site, just to make sure I wasn’t selling myself short. informed me that dignity was “bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.” I looked back at the booger—nope, not an ounce of dignity left.

I thought back, trying to remember at exactly what point, over the last ten years, I had lost it. I concluded that it wasn’t something that had happened all at once. It was a culmination of many experiences. After all, I had at one point been a very self-respecting individual. Or so I had successfully fooled myself into thinking for many years.

It wasn’t something I lost merely by becoming a mother. In fact, I can remember clearly my first child as a baby. I used a blanket when I nursed. When her binky would fall on the ground, I would wash it under hot water for several minutes. I would carefully check her diaper for any signs of a “stinky” by lifting it away from her leg and peeking inside. I even remember gagging when I was changing her diaper one time and poop came squirting out, landing on my arm. I must’ve used just short of a million wipes to scrub my arm clean.

When my first child was a toddler, however, there may have been little things creeping into my patterns of behavior that hadn’t been there before. Like the time I had gone to the grocery store and was trying to decide between two flavors of pop tarts. In my cutest little mommy voice I had said, “should we get the stwaberry or the booberry,” only to look over and see that my cart was empty. I had left my daughter at home with my husband. That was back when I was still trying to cling to my dignity, so I was thoroughly embarrassed when the man a few feet away gave me a strange look. I even felt the need to say, while laughing, “I thought I had my daughter with me.” In his eyes I don’t think that had made much of a difference.

Then my second child came. I was slightly more relaxed in my dignity. If my blanket slipped while nursing, it didn’t mark the end of the world. If her binky fell on the floor, thirty seconds under luke warm water seemed sufficient for disinfection. Checking the diaper became a job for my nose instead of my eyes.

The public humiliation seemed to come more frequently with the new addition to the family. My first child, perhaps in an attempt for attention, thought it was her duty to take off her diaper and streak through the isles at large, crowded, stores. When I had my bits of dignity left, it was very hard for me to hunt down an employee and say, “Um, there’s been a spill in isle four.” “What kind of spill,” they would inevitably ask. “Urine,” I would mumble before leaving as quickly as possible.

Then my third child came and I came to the realization that certain behaviors of practice previously attempted now seemed unrealistic. Using a blanket to nurse seemed impractical because by the time the baby was done, we were both sweating. If the binky fell on the floor, my own mouth provided just the right amount of disinfection. After all, I rarely had access to a faucet of running water. Was she poopy? A finger directly into the side of the diaper could find out quickly. Did that make you gag? Not me. In fact, I rarely gagged at all these days. Not even when my fourth child spit up directly on to my face, causing momentary blindness.

Public humiliation seemed to happen less these days as well. Oh wait…no…it happened more, I had just become less humiliated. Did it bother me when I walked through the isles at a grocery store with no children, but a large chocolate drool stain down the front of my shirt? No, because if I had put on a new shirt before I left, it would have been dirty by the end of the day too, and that would have just equaled more laundry.

Have I made proper reference to all bodily functions yet? Just making sure, a person lacking dignity would include every last one.

I finally went to the sink and rinsed off the booger. After drying my hands on a towel, I rubbed my finger across my now clean hand. It felt soft, as if I had applied an expensive mask to my skin, the kind they sold for a lot of money in the department stores. Who needed expensive masks when they had kids? And who needed dignity? Not me. I had so much more.


I love being a mommy. Have you all managed to keep your dignity in tact through the process??


  1. LOL! I was laughing so hard I cried during this post. It is SO true. I hadn't thought of it before, but apparently I'm plum out of dignity too. Oh well, who needs it. At least we still have our senses of humor, right? :)

  2. My answer to the dignity question is contained in the following post I wrote a while back entitled,

    How Benjamin Ran Through Cheescake Factory Wearing Nothing but a PJ top and a Diaper!!

    Last night we went to Cheecake Factory to celebrate my Bro-in-law's birthday. We braved it with 7 adults and 7 children (a two year old, a three year old, four-four year olds and a seven year old). It was late, the kids were hungry and the food was taking forever! Our waiter was very nice, but a little overwhelmed ( I wonder why). As he was filling up the water glasses some chaos ensued and somehow he accidentally dumped an entire glass and part of a pitcher of ice cold water on Benjamin. Benjamin immediately started crying very, very, loudly. I should mention that Neal and I were seated on the bench side of a very long table and trapped in by two people on each either side. So we grabbed Benjamin and immediately start pulling off the freezing clothes that were completely, head to toe, soaking wet, including his socks and shoes! Fortunately, he was wearing a heavy sweat shirt, so his "shirt" underneath was dry. Now I say "shirt" because it was actually his Pajama top. That morning I had a visiting teaching appointment fairly early, and I was running late, so I just put a sweat shirt over his PJs and some shoes on him. Later in the day I put jeans on him, but I never bothered to change the top because he wore the sweat shirt the whole day.

    So back to my story. After quickly undressing him I realized he was still wearing his dinosaur PJ top. I tried to wrap my sweatshirt around him, but the restaurant wasn't cold and he wanted nothing to do with it, so I resigned myself to the fact that if he's sitting down no one will notice that he's only wearing a diaper and shirt. By this time the food has still not come and Benjamin, along with the other kids, is getting very restless. He keeps trying to stand up on the bench and expose his bare legs and full diaper... I keep trying to entertain him, but it is still quite a scene. Finally the food comes, we eat and get ready to leave. As we're attempting to make our way out of the bench past the two little four year old boys sitting next to us, Benjamin slips past them and we get stuck. We immediately called to Neal's dad to grab Benjamin before he makes his escape, but alas we were too late. Benjamin ran full speed down the isle past the hostess station wearing nothing but his PJ top and saggy diaper!! I assure you any traces of dignity that I had left were stripped away as I chased him through the restaurant.

  3. Dignity? Dignity??? Woman! I have 6 kids! LOL! I was sucking the binkie off the ground by the third one too! LOL! It's so much easier! LOL! But I do have to say, I'm all about covering up when I nurse still.. LOL! I'm a master at it. I can do ANYTHING while nursing! LOL! (and still keep covered! LOL!) This post totally cracked me up! And Candi I have to say.. yours was awesome too!

  4. My dignity was out the door before I hit 22! I had 2 kids and was very young. I was actually happy to turn 30 because then I was old enough to have 5 kids (but that also back fired because of the 5 kids people thought I looked really good for my age...??? I'm only 32!).
    I remember with my first, my sister in law gasped with horror and shock that I removed my daughters soiled shirt at a restaurant (this was in a little po-dunk town in a little family restaurant, not like the Ritz or anything). So to put it simply I have no dignity and have had non for the past 12 years. I hope that I never do. I don't ever want to be those stuck up old ladies that gasp with shock and horror. I want to be one that remembers with fondness and joy as I see a wee-little one streaking in the grocery store!!!

  5. Dignity?? I'm sorry, that word isn't even in my vocabulary!! I remember when I went to the hospital to have my fourth child. I was being enduced and telling the nurses what to do. Let's face it, by number four you know your body better than the nurse who just met you, right? Well it happened to be bring your daughter to work day and one of the nurses brought her 12 yr old daughter with her. I am sure this nurse carefully selected the patient with the least amount of dignity before asking very politely if I would mind if her daughter could watch the birth of my child. After first making sure that my epidural was firmly in place, I of course, said "Sure". Why? Why would I possibly let a strangers 12 yr old daughter watch as I pushed out a 9 month growth from my va-jj? What was that word again?? Oh yeah, dignity...What's that?

  6. lol, Kasie! You are hilarious! :) You should enter this post into a contest or something.



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