Friday, June 5, 2015

Mom Skills

My best friend and fellow blogger, Nadine, had her first baby a few days ago. She ended up having a rather unexpected c-section, so she's been in the hospital since her adorable new daughter's birth. I've made an effort to go see her as often as I can, and on Wednesday night, that meant dragging my own kids along.

The juxtaposition of being a veteran mom crowded in a small space with my own two children and a tiny newborn baby and her newly minted mommy cued me in to a few things I hadn't realized before.

Let's call them mom superpowers. It sounds better than "shit I can do without really thinking about it now that I've been chasing around rugrats for 5 years straight". Here are some skills I didn't realize I had until that day, in that room, with that sweet new baby:

Split-Second Decision Making: I guess I should be more specific. I have in no way mastered the art of making MOST decisions in any sort of highly effective manner. It's really just ONE extremely specific decision that moms with multiple children learn to master. The decision of who to drop (spoiler alert: it's always the bigger one!).

You see, there comes a point when your toddler is in the "reachy, grabby, HOLD ME ALL THE TIME OMG NOW" phase, and it always coincides exactly with your older kid's "who does that bitch think she is, I WAS THE BABY FIRST- HOLD ME" phase. And sure, you try to be fair. You try to hold them both (because obviously this is not an issue of fairly split time. It's about wanting to be held at the exact second your sibling is being held). But there will come a point, dragging your two kids around the house, where one of them starts to slip and you gotta make that decision. Who do you let slide out of your grip and ever-so-gently ... you know, drop on the fucking ground? Anyway, that day with my kids, holding a much tinier baby than my own, Alex got the drop for probably one of the first times in her life. Sorry kid. Maybe you should talk to your sister about your obvious feelings of betrayal.

Mind Reading: There are certain instincts as a parent that you develop about your kids. You become really familiar with their temperments, their personalities, and what you can expect of them in almost any given situation. For example, I fully expected it when Caitlyn started loudly sobbing into the microphone in the KFC drive-thru because her mean, mean mommy was getting chicken for dinner instead of the McDonald's she so desperately wanted and definitely deserved. I might as well have fed her the tears of her baby sister, for the way she reacted to that great injustice.

Anyway, I realized how fine-tuned this skill had become while we visited baby Elizabeth. Everyone knows you have to be really careful when you introduce a toddler to literally anything and everything even slightly more fragile than they are. Toddlers are gods of destruction and they are not to be trusted. That said, to call Alex a bit precocious would be a huge understatement. Alex is well advanced for her age and she can and does understand and follow direction most of the time. So while I was certainly cautious about letting her touch a newborn baby, I also knew I could explain to her that she had to be gentle with her new cousin. And she was. But as it goes with toddlers and impulse control, that did not stop her from getting momentarily distracted and forgetting the rules. It was a split second decision she made, to try to rip the baby's face off, but I saw it coming. My mom Spidey sense perked up and her little hand and inexplicably constantly razor sharp nails hadn't even made it halfway to the baby's delicate face by the time I stopped her.

And I've saved the most important skill for last, of course...

Ability to Tune Out a Screaming Child: In my loud, frantic world, I didn't even realize this was a skill I possessed. I suppose it's one thing to tune out an individual loud noise without it so much as interrupting your conversation. It's a little harder when you're getting it in stereo from two kids, while simultaneously being asked to resolve whatever the fuck is making them screech at each other in the first place. The little one snatches the big one's toy. The big one starts whining and snatches it back. The little one starts crying while the big one gloats at her obvious size advantage in the toy snatching game. The little one starts pawing and grunting at you because she's upset. The big one starts justifying- "but she took it from me first!"... and eventually you tell everyone to shut up and threaten to take all the toys away if they don't both knock it off.

But that's not really my point. In the relative quiet of a hospital room, where the big one was quietly playing with my phone and letting me coo at the new baby and chat with my friend, it was easy to ignore the little one, who was clearly jealous that I was holding another baby and screeching and whining and grabbing at my legs because she wanted me to pick her up instead. I barely even noticed it, until the new baby also started crying and Nadine- who was clearly exhausted, stressed, and trying to get to know her own baby's cues and needs, not to mention recovering from a c-section- gave me her best "please make it stop or I'm kicking your entire family out of my room" look. I picked up Alex and did manage to calm her down. But I couldn't help but think it was a little funny how I barely noticed it, while Nadine had clearly been pushed to the brink of insanity by the two babies crying in stereo. It's an acquired skill, I guess. You spend so much of the first few months of your kids' lives trying to figure out why/stop them from crying that it doesn't even occur to you that sometimes you can just pretend like you don't hear it.

I suppose I'll end on that spectacular piece of parenting advise- "if your kid is screaming, just pretend like you don't hear them".   



Unknown said...

Really a great blog. Awesome lines...
Make your kids happy by watching nursery rhymes songs

Mother Knows Best Reviews said...

It really is an art, isn't it? Or maybe a desensitization.

Ted said...

Second that. Always a good read. Witty and entertaining.

Unknown said...

i think it is also worthy of noting that when Alex was being a dick and I told her to cut it out and sit down and act right, you gave me props on my 100% legit mom voice, and how effective it was.

Jaclyn said...

That is 100% right, Nadine. Your mom voice is on point.