A few weeks ago I babysat my grandson and got to change his diaper.
When I first became the mother to a little boy, my mother had warned me to not leave a boy uncovered too long. Beware the fountain of youth. You know.
Even with that sage advice, my oldest son squirted me right in the face shortly after I brought him home from the hospital. I learned to get everything ready before the big reveal so I could be quick and cover it up in a jiffy if I needed.
With my grandson, I was prepared. I had my method down. Get the wipes ready. Unfold the new diaper. Take a deep breath, then take off the wet diaper.
Of course, he nailed me. In spite of. And laughing all the while.
I think this ritual of male creatures marking their territory starts very young.
Cleaning bodily fluids is the yuck of motherhood.
Dressing battle wounds of wars fought with siblings or sidewalks.
It’s in those most intimate, personal, yucky moments that love takes root and grows.
My friend’s house became a crime scene when her husband was murdered there. A group of women went to the house and scrubbed the blood off the floor. Men patched the bullet holes in the wall. Cleaning the yuck became an act of love.
Jesus washed His disciples’ dirty feet on the night He was betrayed.
And Joseph of Arimathea wrapped His body — head bloody from the crown of thorns, hands and feet pierced by nails, his side opened with a spear — Joseph wrapped that bloody body in a linen cloth and laid him in a tomb.
The yuck of love.
In more ways than one.
Caring for aging parents is such a privilege. Laundering soiled garments, gently bathing fragile folds of flesh, cleaning unmentionables, because, you know, we are cultured and couth.
Those are the sacramental moments of life.
The farmers have been spreading the manure on the nearby fields this week. The aroma fills the air. Yuck.
But when the alfalfa grows, lush and green, nutrient rich because of the timely application of poo — we forget the yuck.
So it is with children.
And aging parents.