Everyone knows that life changes the second you have a baby. Actually, even before the baby is born your life starts to become unrecognizable. Pregnancy is insane, and makes you feel like your body and mind have been taken over by aliens. If you are becoming a parent by means of adoption, you are caught up in a whirlwind of meetings, paperwork, preparation, waiting and anxiety. Whatever way you build a family, you realize that things will never be the same as they were when you were just you, and usually, you welcome those changes.
What you may not realize, is that when you get the promotion to “Mother” you get a whole host of other titles and responsibilities along with it. You suddenly have skills and abilities you never knew you had! There must be some hidden part of a woman’s brain that unlocks the moment she smells her baby’s head, and the secrets of the universe come spilling into her soul. Her hands become steady and capable, her mind (though a little crazy and unpredictable) becomes able to think three steps ahead, her senses become animalistic, and she develops a sway and a swing that can lull the crabbiest of babies to sleep. When you become a mom you become many other things as well. Some of them include…
1. Scheduling Guru
It used to take all week to plan a Friday night out. Phone calls to friends, shopping trips to find the perfect outfit, figuring out transportation arrangements, deciding who to invite to come with. All week long. For one six hour period of time. Now? You scoff at your former girlish self. You can schedule a well baby visit, a haircut, a daycare interview, an oil change and a pap smear in a matter of minutes, for the same day and still have dinner on the table by 6:00. Your eye is no longer wandering over the possibilities, it is locked in on the prize. Get as much done on your day off as humanly possible. If someone is running behind, you can juggle and adjust with a swift phone call and a brief apology. Your scheduling abilities put the president’s personal assistant’s to shame.
2. Poop Connoisseur
BB (Before Baby) you didn’t even pay attention to your own poop, but suddenly you are an expert in someone else’s. You pay attention to frequency, quantity, color, consistency, and smell. You can predict exactly when it is coming after only three or four weeks of getting shit on. Though you may faint the first time you see poop after blueberries or beets, you quickly become comfortable with the new color scheme and move on without drama. By the time you start potty training poop becomes a cause for celebration, reason to sit on the floor next to the little potty and fake push and grunt with your toddler; then clap and sing and dance before flushing it down. You could diagnose a digestive issue a mile away which makes you almost a doctor.
3. Personal Hygiene Director
You’ve been in charge of your own face and body for years, but never have you clipped someone else’s fingernails, cleaned their ear canals or dug in their nose for an enormous booger. Until now. Almost immediately you begin total body/hair/skin care for another human being. Baby fingernails are paper thin and razor sharp and their hands are curled into little fists constantly. NOT the easiest type of nails to trim, but you Mom are fearless. (Not really, the first time scares the crap right out of you.) Fearless! You grab those special little clippers and praying to God you don’t clip off a fingertip, meticulously trim those little claws as far down as possible without causing blood loss. Armed with your sucker thingy of choice, (I heart the Nose Frida) you can clear stuffy noses in seconds. You swipe out earwax before the kid can turn his head and you somehow manage to brush teeth and tongue without gagging the child or getting bit. You can pick an eye goopy with a little slight of hand and a goofy face. Where it used to take you an hour to get your own body ready, it now only takes fifteen minutes to wash, powder, lotion, comb, style, trim, diaper and dress your little fashionista. Of course, You always look like hell but damn, that kid is cute!
4. Private Eye and Security Guard
It doesn’t matter if you could sleep through a tornado BB, you now hear every pin drop in a six mile radius. Was that the neighbor flushing his toilet? Did a stick just break in the front yard? Better to be safe than sorry, you better go peek the perimeter. Stop to place a hand on the baby’s chest first and make sure she’s breathing. Ok. Baby is breathing. Yard looks quiet and dark, neighbor does have his light on…hope he’s not up to something sinister. (Mental note to check the sex offender registry tomorrow.) Double check all locks and check the hall closet just in case. Baby is still breathing. Back to sleep. Deep in slumber, and even in the middle of a dream, you hear a tiny wail. Instantly, you are wide awake and have the baby in hand. He is still asleep, groggy and not even ready to eat yet. You double check that he is in fact breathing, take a moment to go to the bathroom and glance out the window before returning to bed. All night every night, you are on patrol. It is truly miraculous that you can ever feel rested again, yet somehow you do. You manage to go through the day as if you had eight hours of uninterrupted slumber, when in actuality the longest stretch of continuous sleep occurred from 9:45 to 9:58 pm between feeding the baby, rolling your husband over for snoring and checking on the neighbor teens across the street with binoculars. (Those kids look shifty…I don’t care if they are on the honor roll.) You contemplate applying for the FBI or Secret Service when Junior goes off to school. They’d be fools not to take you.
5. Nurse, Doctor, Emergency Medical Technician
No one likes going to the doctor, and God forbid you have to make a trip to the ER. Unless it is a definite and urgent emergency (massive blood loss, blue lips, broken bones or seizures) you will do your best to diagnose and treat it at home. Armed with a thermometer, bath tub, Pedialyte and a smartphone you can pretty much fix anything in a day or two. You experiment with essential oils, baking soda, oatmeal and massage. You cuddle and kiss and clean up vomit. You stay calm and collected and watch for serious side effects like a hawk. When your princess starts eating table foods and gags herself on a piece of cracker, you dive in after it, finger hooked and clear her throat in half a second. When your super hero wannabe dives head first off of the couch onto ceramic tile, you don’t panic, you just check his pupils every few minutes for the next three days and feel his skull for odd indents. (You may cry really hard the first time this happens…I did.) You develop a strong stomach and a calm head, able to handle any and all explosive bodily fluids and wounds that would have previously made your knees weak. You may want to begin wearing scrubs every day, and I would encourage it.
6. Ultimate Survivalist
While modern inventions are awesome, once you become a mom you no longer NEED them. You are now able to channel the spirits of your long gone ancestors who lived off of the land and made do with what they had. You can forget just about everything and still manage to survive the day, with just a popsicle stick, two old towels and a box of graham crackers. (Your list will vary depending on how much trouble you are truly in.) You don’t need an Ipad, Dora or Frozen. As long as you have a voice and a little pep in your step, you can entertain your kids with your body alone. You can fashion a meal out of two or three pantry ingredients that your kids will probably like more than the usual carefully planned out organic fare. A little spit and a rag goes a long way on a messy face and no one ever died from missing a bath (or four) so if you find yourself with no water, no electricity, or stranded somewhere in the woods, as long as they have you, Mommy Grylls, your kids will be A-Okay.
7. Carpenter, Seamstress, Toy Fixer
Even if you couldn’t hang a picture frame before, by the end of your baby’s first year you will feel confident assembling a jungle gym…alone. You’ve assembled cribs, dressers, bouncy seats, swings, jumpers, high chairs, activity tables, exersaucers, scooters, and a gazillion toys. You know your way around a screwdriver and have mastered those stupid little allen wrenches that fly out of your hand every third turn. You have sewn (or taped) ripped seams, fixed stuck zippers, and patched hats and mittens. You will be granted the power to fix everything. Toys, books, clothing, boo-boos, they can all be fixed by you no matter how broken they are. You will try to actually fix something for around five minutes before your creative mind takes over and you improvise and jimmy it together with some string or gum or tape. No matter how ugly the fix is, your kids will be thrilled with the results, though others may raise an eyebrow at Barbie’s head held on by electrical tape. Whatever, they are just jealous.
You know when your child is tired. Sick. Has pooped in a corner. Has done something really, really bad to the dog. Is going to fall off of that chair. You know almost before they do it, but not quite soon enough to save them (or the dog.) You get that feeling, deep down in a spot in your stomach that didn’t exist before you had a kid. You don’t know how you know, your significant other doesn’t know how you know, but you just know. When you have time, you should secure a 900 number and start charging people for your intuition.
9. Award Winning Entertainer
You can sing, dance, act, do voice impersonation, draw, paint and play all sports as a Mom. It doesn’t matter if you have had any previous experience in these fields before, you magically know how to do it all (maybe not well…) after you have kids. You’ll try anything to calm a screaming infant or get a giggle out of your toddler. You invent ways to get them excited about going to bed, waking up, eating, drinking or getting into the car. Most of these involve a certain level of embarrassment, not that you care as long as your child gets from point A to point B without a breakdown. Your mini audience is always impressed by your skills anyway, no matter how ridiculous you may look to outsiders. You probably won’t actually win an award, but you should. Maybe fashion a Grammy or Oscar out of macaroni and glitter at some point.
10. Sleep Ninja
You can squeeze in a little rest when ever or where ever. Since your nights no longer consist of anything close to eight hours of silent, uninterrupted slumber, (See #4) you’ll gladly take ten minutes sitting up in your car in the grocery store parking lot waiting for your husband to come out with dinner, or seven minutes in the morning with one arm around your two year old while they eat cereal in your bed. You may not be a napper by nature, but your situation has now forced you to grab z’s when you can. You are good at it, it is necessary, you are discreet and sometimes no one in the waiting room at the DMV even knows you’re sleeping.