My daughter sweetly slips her hand into mine and I lean into her head full of blonde hair, inhaling the smell of sunshine in her locks.
I look down at our fingers, intertwined, and marvel at the days that feel not so long ago when she was every part of me, this girl who made me a mother. I think back to those first few moments of meeting her, counting those ten same little fingers. I remember dreaming of this very day, when she would hold my hand, two peas in a pod, mother and daughter, together.
My heart swells with love for her as I squeeze her hand, once, twice, our special signal that says, I love you.
A smile still on my lips, I look down at her fingers in mine — and then I pause. Leaning my head down, I squint a little, peering closer. And then, I gasp, recoiling in absolute and total horror.
Because those little fingers, those perfect little digits on a sweet and innocent little girl hand?
They are topped with what appear to be eight-feet long fingernails, curling like the talons of a Bald Eagle on a bloodthirsty hunt, caked with dirt, courtesy of our summer sandbox and who-knows-what-else growing under there (the thought alone makes my stomach physically turn).
I know what you’re thinking here — what a terrible mother, how neglectful can she be, maybe someone should call Social Services — but allow me to assure you that I swear I just clipped her fingernails like, yesterday.
Call me crazy, but I swear my kids’ fingernails grow at a rate of approximately 10 feet every other night. Every time I turn around, I am clipping a small child’s nails, sweeping little half-moons into my hands, desperately trying to catch them before they get lost in the abyss of my living room carpet forever. (Gross and also: gross.)
Granted, I have four children who all require direct intervention on my part for the grooming of their fingernails, but it’s still one of those parental tasks that I completely, absolutely dread.
Just when I’ve felt the satisfaction of a job done well, having ensured that all nails are clean, short, and tidy, I am feeling the scratches of small claws digging into my skin, the baby insisting on raking her nails across my chest as she nurses. Why, baby, why? Is that comforting to you? Haven’t you destroyed my body enough without this small, last sacrifice?
Try as I might, I just can’t keep up with the incessant demands of the never-ceasing, ever-increasing growth of my children’s fingernails.
And the task of actually clipping those little claws? *shudder *
Short of strapping them to a chair with a few restraints, there is no good way to get them to hold still long enough for me to:
- Locate the clippers. (Why are they never in the same spot??!)
- Hold back my vomit when I get up close and personal with the kiddie claws.
- Break out in an anxious sweat dreading that I will, in fact, clip off the tops of their fingers.
Usually, I resort to waving a screen of some sort in front of their faces like a maniac street peddler. Oh, look at this shiny screen, I coo. See those pretty cartoons? Just look right here at this jumping cow while Mama looks at your hands — BAM, then I swoop in. One nail down, 19 to go. 19? Yes, because toenails also grow at alarming rates, my friends. Also, summertime and its ensuing dirtiness and my shoe-averse children aren’t exactly a friendly combination for said toenails, let’s just be honest there.
Unfortunately for me, my husband developed an aversion to clipping our kids’ fingernails after an unfortunate incident involving too-big clippers and too-small nails on our newborn, which resulted in a microscopic (yet still traumatic) amount of blood. She was fine, really, but the events ruined him for life.
So, for now, the clipping of the claws rests firmly on my poor, scratched, gouged-up shoulders.
Now, who can tell me where the fingernail clippers are this time? Anyone? Anyone at all?