Here's my confession. I am not a germaphobe. Never have been. I'm not sure why, but I just don't have any space in my brain taken up with fears of what's lurking on the bathroom counter or the bottom of my shoe or the shopping cart handle. I understand--sort of--why people are concerned about such things, but I'm just not wired that way. And amazingly, I've lived my life without any major catastrophes resulting from this lack of diligence. I've never had the flu (or a flu shot for that matter, but that's a discussion for another day, so lecture me later). I rarely get colds. For a long time, I worked on a college campus, where viruses go to speed date, and never caught anything. I would say I'm sick less than the average person. Wouldn't that point to germaphobia being a little...pointless?
Still. Since I'm pregnant, and there's all this hysteria about the flu and H1N1, and apparently pregnant women are getting much sicker than other people when they get it, I decided this week to try to make an effort to Avoid Exposure to Germs. I bought some hand sanitizer (the new foaming kind, which is heaven sent because the other kind is just plain NASTY)(though it still makes me nervous to have it because have you seen the stories about kids that eat it and get drunk? That has Ethan written all over it.) I promised myself that I would pay attention to who and what I touch. I would have the kids wash their hands as soon as they get home, before engaging in any acts of affection. Et cetera.
It didn't work. For a lot of reasons.
1. When I go pick Ethan up at school, he catches sight of me and runs full force at me, yelling "Mommy! Mommy!" Am I really going to hold out my hand sanitizer like a weapon and demand that he de-germ before I get a hug?
2. Germs stay on stuff for, like, 2 days. Short of wearing antibacterial gloves and a body suit, there's no way I can avoid them. And they're everywhere--I have a first grader and a pre-schooler bringing them home by the truckload every day.
3. I work with the elementary kids at church on Wednesday nights, and I was determined to at least have some boundaries there. Until they were playing Simon Says and Simon told them to all go hug Mrs. Nancy. What was I going to do, run screaming from the gym chased by hoardes of Simon-obeying germ transporters?
4, I just don't have the time. When I'm walking in to Wal Mart, I'm not just walking in to Wal Mart. I'm answering my cell phone (it's usually my mother), grabbing Ethan out of the path of an oncoming truck, stopping my shopping list from blowing away with my foot, telling Abby to quit performing her Hannah Montana impersonation in the doorway and racing to get the last "cool car" cart for the kids before the lady next to me gets there. By the time I remember that the last person to be holding the cart handle could have been there to get her Tamiflu from the pharmacy, I've got my hands already firmly planted in her germ residue.
So I am giving up. If I get sick, I get sick. C'est la vie. Germs, you win. I don't have the time or energy to avoid you. Just know, though, that if you mess with me you mess with my kids, and Ethan is not afraid to drink up some Germ X to show you who's boss.