I have seen on another blog a list of “Mom Ninja Skills”. For me, I would rather talk about some “Mom superpowers” that I have developed – as these skills seem to have been dormant before and were suddenly revealed by the sheer panic when my daughter was born and I was put in charge of keeping her alive and happy all day and night…
1. Function well and responsibly (including driving safely) on barely three hours of interrupted sleep. This one really baffles me, because in my twenties, I would have been useless all day if I had less then 6 hours of Zzzzs the night before. Hormones maybe ? who knows…
2. Aim like Robin Hood with a spoon full of porridge. Bringing a spoonful of porridge, yoghurt or vegetable soup from the bowl into my daugter’s mouth, avoiding both flailing arms and grabby hands, the ears as she jerks her head from side to side, her nose as she abruptly tips her head backwards and manage not to spill any (or only a little) on my work clothes. Game of precision. Bonus shot, if I manage to shove it into her mouth as she is talking, trying to bite into a toy or yawn. Negative points if she is screaming, as she usually spits all out again. Speed, attention and dumb luck required every morning.
3. Doing everything with one hand – sometimes even the left had – if holding the baby on the arm – so far, I have managed: folding and unfolding clothes and nappies, opening medicine bottles, opening cans of cat food, cutting vegetables with a sharp knife, writing work e-mails and text messages while keeping phone or iPad far away from baby, phoning the plumber while keeping the phone away from baby, brushing my teeth, putting on make-up (one side of the face at a time), putting on a coat (tricky), cooking (with arm extended towards the stove while standing some distance away), opening and closing hundreds of buttons, zippers and press buttons (this should be a compulsory course for every mother to be). Many of these also involve squatting to retrieve objects that I or the baby have dropped. A “monkey” upgrade (when my back or my knees hurt) and I am barefoot is my renewed skill to collect lighter items with my foot and bring it up to a reasonable level to grab with my free hand. Orangutans could be jealous, I am getting really good at this.
4. The magic of breast milk. I never knew I had it in me and how much like a superpower breastfeeding really is. The fact that my body is able to produce nourishing and refreshing milk, on demand, and that giving the breast to my baby is usually enough to stop her crying when she is hungry or thirsty, scared or bored or has just woken up from a bad dream, when the plane is taking off or landing, when her nose if stuffed or her throat hurts and she can’t eat, when she is tired and wants to fall asleep, when I am tired and want her to fall asleep, when the bottle just isn’t enough or I could not be bothered to prepare one (at four in the morning after she already had two so she definitely is not hungry), anywhere, anytime… I will be really sorry to lose this one when the milk finally goes.
5. Driving like I never could. First of all – in a car. I have never been a very confident driver. The first six months I have not dared go out driving alone with my daughter. I was scared she would cry and I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on driving. Then I went back to work and from day one, I was in the car, and in a matter of days saw my driving skills develop – finding and fitting in the last tight place in the parking of the nursery (and then at work, if I arrive a bit late), fighting my way through traffic and traffic jams, parking in a way that I can get the carseat out comfortably, crossing big busy streets I would not have dared to do before… Second – I have learned to drive the pram and then the buggy with one hand (see above superpower nr. 3), have developed a keen eye to estimate if we will fit in a restaurant, between shelves in a shop, between a hedge and a lamppost on the sidewalk… something I really sucked at before.
6. Self-confidence and the power to make baby laugh (even in public). Making faces, playing peek-a-boo, putting her pants on my head and play clown, sniff her diaper (while still on her), pretend to sneeze… tickle her bellybutton, show her mine and giggle when she tickles it… Once you find what makes your baby laugh, you will do it over and over and over again, without fear of ridicule, even in public places – because just hearing them gurgle with laughter makes you so happy. And you don’t even care if you attract strange stares from other people. I have become so fearless, I could try stand-up comedy.
7. Make most of the time when baby sleeps and you have time for you. They say, rest when the baby is resting. Right. Like we will actually do it every time. Some other stuff also needs to be done. So you cluster – kitchen is cleaned in 4 minutes flat, while you have/finish your breakfast or have an early lunch (it’s eleven and you have been up since sunrise), you read you e-mails in the bathroom – peeing, brushing your teeth, sometimes while even showering (glass doors). You will never ever sit quietly in front of the telly doing nothing – you do what needs to be done: pay the bills, manicure, pedicure, sewing on lost buttons, sorting baby clothes (too small/right size/too big – all the time!), all while talking to your mother on skype… You can’t believe how much can be done in such a short time, before you get a short nap (10-20 minutes if you’re lucky) and the baby wakes up again. Call me Speedy Gonzales.
8. Patience. The real SUPER superpower. .. I am patient when – she doesn’t sleep (and I go up to her room for the eighth time), when she is fussy in the car (even more patient if I am driving, because I just can’t do anything about it). I am patient with my husband when he is cranky and I let him sleep in on Saturdays, because he got up to give her the bottle at night and deserves a lie in. I am patient when I wait – at the pediatrician, for the bus, for the fever to come down in the middle of the night, while holding her in my arms. I have to admit, I am not as good on this one as I would like to be. When she throws her food on the floor (or on the clothes after I have already changed twice), I sometimes collapse and get angry. But I am much more patient than I used to be and my mantra is – this is a phase, it will pass. This is a phase (probably)…and (I hope) it will pass (soon).
9. Super business skills. I have become very efficient at shopping, systematically writing shopping lists and my memory works miracles (considering my state of tiredness). I also have become so very efficient at internet shopping and selling, I could work as a broker – it’s all those second hand baby clothes and toys see ? bodies and pyjamas and activity blankets to sell, jumperoos and winter jackets or shoes to buy – size, color, where and when to pick them up, price, phone number etc… True, sometimes I forget or something comes up and I miss the appointment or have to reschedule a pick-up five times, but overall, it works well.
10. Master superior of packing for trips. Super organised. I admit that I am really very good at packing – well – now I am. Lately, when going on trips or even going out for the day, I have usually managed to bring everything we needed and still make sure we didn’t have to bring a van. It requires a little planning, but finally, warm clothes, summer clothes, sunscreen, water bottle, milk, biscuits, diapers, wipes, three strategic toys, blanket, panadol, including baby’s passport and mine too… a book and lots of tissues. And as the ad says, for everything else, there is MasterCard.
Looking back on this list, I feel like a superwoman already and I only feel (a little) sad, that there is one superpower I will probably never get: I will never (again) be supermodest…