Something happens to you when you become a mother. It’s not just that your every move and motivation seems to change when that little being enters the living world, it’s that you start doing things that you never thought you would do. Those things that your mom did when you were a child. Sometimes this phenomenon can be cause of personal strife—inner monologue: “NOOOOOOOOO!”—but I would suggest that there are ten innate, unavoidable moves that classically belong to mothers. These moves are to be embraced as part of the package, ladies. Yes, we get the common tasks of diaper changes and lunch making, plus some of the sweet moments of maternity, but we just can’t help the following actions from being a part of what we do.
1. The 'Spit Clean'
I did this one this morning actually. I didn’t have any wipes and all three boys had chocolate all over their faces from the donuts that they had just devoured before heading off to Sunday School. Who has time to go and moisten a towelette to fix this problem? Definately not a mom of toddlers. Just lick and wipe, so simple. It works on fixing hair too, just hold back the temptation to cut out the middleman—your fingers—and lick their hair directly. That might be taking it a smidge too far.
2. The 'Mom Voice'
It’s stronger than a yell and more intense than whisper, like a lion growling low while hunting it’s prey. It just comes out sometimes, like when Silas is about to lick an outlet or Reuben is about to smack Eli in the head with a golf club. I don’t want them to get hurt and they are in immediate danger, so I need them to know I mean business. I never had it before I bore children and then it appeared one day. Maybe going through labor does something to your vocal chords. Scary.
3. The 'Forced Cuddle'
Sometimes you just want to hold them, those kids of yours who have decided to get bigger right under your nose. You want to kiss their sweet faces and touch their little hands, like you did when they were a baby and their fingers could barely wrap around your pinky. You are their Mom and you love them best of all and sometimes you just want a little cuddle. The unfortunate thing is that our children aren’t always feeling quite so dreamy and cuddly as we are in that same moment. So, whether we should or shouldn’t, we grab them for a wobbly two seconds or so and show our one-sided affection, then off they run to that oh-so-important tower they are building or just to the other side of the room…away from you. Our mom’s did it, and their mother’s before them. There is no fighting it, just use caution as they get older and when in public. Think twice before you lay a wet one on their forehead in front of their SAT prep class.
4. The 'Kid Impression'
This is something I have really tried not to do, but the world sets me up and I find myself doing it again and again. I mean how can you not tell the lady in line at the grocery store about the way your kid says “Hippopotumus” like “Hypeeedodomoomoosus”. It’s cute! When friends and family ask how the kids are, my mind goes to the cutest thing they did that day. AND in order to share about that, I have to do a poor and rather ridiculous impression. Someday I will take up stand-up and all this training will have done me some good. Tough crowds and baby babble, what a resumé.
5. The 'Company Clean'
It may be something in our blood, but we have the impression that if our house looks together then our lives are together. “Cleanliness is next to godliness” and all that. When you are a mom, life explodes, everyday. That is the reality. I can’t count how many times I have scrambled, shoved, and tossed piles of hidden ‘life’ just to try to save face in front of strangers and even close friends and relatives. The worst pressure though is your mother-in-law, who is counting on you to raise her grandkids right and create a ‘tidy’ and happy environment for her son to thrive. But, faint not, mom. You know, your mother-in-law has a mother-in-law too and this move goes back generations. You do the math.
6. The 'Third Eye'
If there was a superpower that was given to mother’s during the catastrophic event of child-bearing, this would be it. Somehow, mom’s just know what is going on all the time. Maybe we just know our kids so well that we can anticipate what they will do...maybe it is the height advantage that allows us to see what is going on, but somehow I know exactly when danger is afoot. Many injuries and fights have been avoided due to my ability to send out the ‘mom-signal’ because I saw what was coming. It works amazingly well when all goes quiet. All I have to do is call out, “What’s going on?” and the mischief stops. Take that, Batman.
7. The 'Momma Bird'
This one used gross me out, but if I can use my saliva to wipe my kids’ faces then I can certainly stomach getting a little on their food. I have made attempts to remember to pack all the utensils needed to make food small and malleable enough so that my kids don’t choke, but alas, I am human and I have not started carrying a stocked and stylish fanny-pack (bum-bag for your Brits, apologies for the language). But because I am human, I have this very useful thing that helps me not choke on my food, and it is with me ALL THE TIME, called a mouth. At least I’m not feeding my kids worms, right?
8. The 'Laundry Pile Closet'
I have heard from many sources that it is not just me who lives from the laundry pile outside my dryer. All the clothes are clean and they are in there somewhere, so why not just keep them where I know I can find them! Who has time to fold 20 pairs of mini-pants, 20 t-shirts and match 40 socks, twice a week, plus keep up with their own clothes, husband’s clothes and linens etc. It is an enormous task that one day I hope to master, but moms everywhere will not judge me for pulling out a clean pair from the laundry room whilst dripping wet in a towel.
9. The 'One More Thing'
There is a limit to the information that my mind can hold. When I am leaving the house with my children, it seems as though that limit has been reached. After I get the kids strapped into our van, I am constantly running back into the house shouting, “I need just one more thing!”. The fact that this happens several times in a matter of minutes is just sad. Sometimes we even pull out of the drive and only upon exiting the neighborhood do I find that I need to circle the block and get something again. This didn’t happen before the little people, so it must be the mothering that makes me remember the sippy cups and forget my wallet.
10. The 'Magical Mom Strength'
There have been those times when you are alone with your kid(s) and you don’t think you can do it. You think to yourself, “This is it. I’m done. I am not cut out for this mothering stuff.” Whether it is a colicy baby or a toddler tantrum, a middle schooler’s meltdown or teenager’s drug habit, there is a moment when time stands still and somehow you dig deep and find that love for your child. And that mother’s love gives you a strength that saves you in that moment.
It gives you the power to pick up the child who has been screaming for two hours and sing a lullaby through your own tears.
It gives you the muscle to hold that flailing kid until he calms in your arms and you both can breath again, despite the bruises.
It gives you the words to say to your girl who can’t or won’t see it your way because her world is ending and you just “don’t understand”.
And it gives you the courage to keep going back to your grown and prodigal child who doesn’t know how much they are loved, because you will always want them to know how much they are. This strength is a phenomenon, inexplicable except through a mother’s love for their child.
Happy Mother’s Day, all you classy ladies out there. Whether you have done all these moves yet or not, just give it time. Did I miss any? Go call your mom and ask her. ;)