“Dear God — ” my mom prayed when I was 2 years old and she was pregnant with my middle sister.
You might think she prayed for a certain gender, for a healthy baby, for an easy delivery. But her prayer was along different lines:
“Please make this baby not persnickety about its hands the way Lori is.”
Apparently I was born fussy. I have always disliked having dirty hands. It doesn’t stop me from doing much because I can accommodate — gloves are my friends.
I am always attuned to whether my hands are clean or dirty. Mostly they are clean. But if I handle garden tools, take the kids to Chuck E Cheese, unwrap a package of chicken, pet a dog, scale the monkey bars or hold my son’s hand for any length of time, I am keenly aware of their sullied nature. I do not touch my face, clean dishes or clean clothes until I wash my hands and restore my inner harmony.
On my own eve of motherhood, my prayers (unsaid because I was just happy to finally become a mom) would have been the reverse of my mom’s:
“Please, God. Give me clean children.”
HA! you say. Yes, you and God.
My children lack the attunement I have. They would gleefully dunk their hands in a bucket of snot and then give me a gooey hug. They have no qualms about hiking in mud and horsepoop, taking off their mucky socks in the car and putting the soggy things on their hands. After an hour in the tubes at McDonald’s PlayLand, Tessa and Reed approach me with enthusiasm, inexplicably wanting to stroke my hair and face. I am repulsed.
Back in the diaper bag days, it was easy to wipe off hands because I carried around my own sundry store. But I refuse to put wipes in my purse now. And don’t tell me about hand sanitizer — it kills germs but it doesn’t banish dirt.
We have therefore seen every single public bathroom within 10 miles of our house, and many outlying ones, too. I have hoisted them at every sink.
Don’t think I’m not into kisses and hugs. On the contrary — I’m all aBOUT kisses and hugs.
Immediately after bathtime.
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