I’m Not A Germaphobe, I’m A Mom

GERMSMy friends and coworkers have at times referred to me as a “germaphobe.”  Of course, I disagree and believe I am truly normal and often think others should be more concerned with germs. I have used hand sanitizer since it was invented, and not all the time, just when my hands feel grimy or right after I pump gas. Ewe. Especially after I pump gas. Can you imagine the number of germs living off a gas pump?! Another classic time I pull out the old sanitizer is at a restaurant before I eat. Just think of the germs you touch while walking into a restaurant: door handle to get in the restaurant, a chair you touch to sit in, and menu to look at. Germs, germs, germs. I am not paranoid – it is merely common sense.

Since I used hand sanitizer pre-kids, it makes sense that I would have my children use it. Of course, I don’t use any on the baby just yet, on her I use hand wipes. My 4-year-old knows the drill, though. As soon as we leave a store, I squirt some in her palms. If she plays outside at a park, I give her some, and if we are at a get-together and are about to eat – I will have her wash her hands or give her sanitizer. Does this make me a germaphobe? I certainly hope not.

I have no problem shaking others’ hands. I have no problem using public restrooms. I have no problem letting my children play with other children. What I do have a problem with is when my kids get sick. I am fully aware I cannot keep them free from viruses, I know they will contract things throughout their young lives. That’s life. I also realize it is somewhat healthy to expose them to some germs to build up their immune system. But, and this is a HUGE but… when you’ve seen the number of times per day your child picks her nose and eats her boogers, touches her face (eyes/mouth), and you know she was just exposed to a plethora of tiny disgusting germs, say at the local park – common sense says – let’s kill some of those suckers. Just because they are invisible, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

I am ALWAYS shocked when we leave gymnastics class. Right on the counter in front are 4 or 5 bottles of hand sanitizer for the kids to use once the class is over. I am the only parent that uses it. That’s a problem, people! A big problem. Your child was just exposed to how many germs during class? Kids are gross. They go to the bathroom without washing their hands after. They itch their butts when they don’t wipe good, they spit, they come to class with a lingering cough. They need us to remind them to wash those germs away. They are not going to do it themselves. Even to this day, I remind my 4-year-old we have to wash our hands when we get home from anywhere… because germs are all around us.

The other day my family was getting ready to leave the park. My girls had just played on the playscape and I overheard another younger mother say to her son, “We are leaving, here, let’s sanitize your hands.” In my mind, I was clapping my hands at this mom. I will tell you, this is the first time I have ever heard another mother say this to a child in public. It stopped me dead in my tracks, I glanced over and smiled at her. I don’t know if parents are lazy or they think kids need exposure to germs. I can’t figure it out. I just know that again, common sense tells me that I should clean their hands when they are done playing at a local park. Let’s not even get started on the baby. I take her shoes off once she is in her car seat. Here’s why: she is teething. That means she will put everything and anything in her mouth – shoes included. She is walking, people. How many germs are on the bottoms of our shoes? I think a study once said E. coli has been found on shoe soles. Um, how gross is that? I will take my chances and remove her shoes.

I don’t allow my kids to wear shoes in the house either. Because chances are the bottoms of their shoes is equal to a toilet seat. Would I want to leave bacteria from a toilet on my kitchen floor or living room rug every day? No. I sure hope using hand sanitizer and removing my shoes doesn’t make me a germaphobe and if it does – so be it. I would rather save myself from dirty parasites than the thirty seconds it takes to wash my hands or the few seconds it takes to squirt some alcohol into my hands, and the basic routine of leaving shoes in the garage upon entering the house.

I will say I have become a little more aware, I suppose, of the germs I am exposed to while traveling or staying at hotels since I’ve become a mom. It doesn’t help that my husband once worked in the pest control industry and he was a guru at killing bed bugs – a bug that totally exists by the way. Anytime we travel, the first thing we do is check for bed bugs in and around the bed. He has a method and I just assist. I never sleep that well in hotels anyway, but knowing I could potentially save my body from getting nipped by little vampires (they do suck your blood), helps me sleep a little better.

We don’t travel much and when we do, we NEVER walk barefoot in the hotel. OK, I am not going to spell it out here, just think for a second. What do people do in hotels rooms? OK, that’s the reason we keep our shoes and/or socks on. I use the shower at a hotel, like a normal person (with flip-flops on) – does anyone take a bath at a hotel? Ever? I hope not. I will save the baths for my tub, that I clean and dirty with my body. I don’t need to swim around in someone else’s bacteria. Same with hot tubs. I would never. I think I have gone into a hot tub maybe twice in my life. I do remember the one time seeing a film on top of the water that completely turned me off.

Hopefully, I don’t offend anyone with my little quirks. I like to keep my kids as clean as possible – which requires effort on mine and my husband’s part. He is the same way as me. So if I am considered a germaphobe – at least I am married to one as well. Can we all just agree that germs are gross and we should try to eliminate them as much as possible?! I sure hope so.