Unexpected Skills I Have Acquired Since Becoming A Mother

Parenting is basically a massive learning journey. From the moment your first child takes its first breath, you realise that there is a ton of shit that you know nothing about. And you need to find it out, now!

But it’s amazing how quickly you start to figure it out. You learn how to feed your baby, how to bath them, and what those weird spots on their faces really are. You read books, you Google, you ask your friends. Slowly, slowly, you start to feel more confident.

And if you’re an idiot, like me, you start to think you might even be getting the hang of this.

Don’t get me wrong though. I have learned some amazing things while parenting my kids. Not all of them were exactly what I expected, though.

I see my babies kind of like the radioactive spiders in Spiderman. Whilst gestating, they mutated my genes somewhat. And over time, I have acquired some skills.

1. 0-awake in 2 seconds

I remember what used to happen when I woke up in the night before I had children. I would slowly open my eyes. Seeing that it was dark, I would check the time. I’d yawn once or twice, and then turn over and go back to sleep. And that was it.

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That is now just a distant memory (that I yearn for). Here’s what happens now:
Whilst sleeping, my brain alerts me to a noise. My eyes spring open like a fox’s in headlights. And before I am even aware that I am awake, I am running through the house to deal with whoever is up. There is no limbo period, halfway between conscious and unconscious for me. I hear it, and I’m there.

2. Cry recognition

This comes in very handy in conjunction with number 1. When you’re galloping around in the middle of the night, you don’t wanting to be stopping and straining your ears, waiting for the next cry to work out which room you should be heading to.

All I have to hear is a one-second burst of, ‘Aaa,’ and I’m there.

And I’m pretty proud of that.

Little Girl is unimpressed with this talent, though. So she has developed a defensive tactic that blows it out of the water. She has managed, dear readers, to make her laugh and her cry sound entirely the same. I’m almost impressed. It certainly gets me running to her aid approximately double the amount of times I need to. Damn clever kid.

3.  Temperature sensor

One of the benefits I have received through my baby-induced mutation is a magic hand. It’s hard to get this across in text, so just imagine that I’m waving my hand DSC_0147mystically in front of your face right now. Oooh, magic. And this magic hand is pretty flipping fantastic at estimating the temperature of a sick child.

I don’t think we owned a thermometer until about 9 months ago. Up until then, the temperature measurements in this house were Fine, Bit Warm, Hot and Yowzer! And it stood me in good stead for many years. In fact, the only thing the thermometer has ever managed is to make me panic. ‘Oh my God, 40.1!’ It’s not cool. (Ha, see what I did there?)

So now the thermometer sits in the Drawer of Hellish Disorganisation, gathering dust, while I employ the magic hand.

It may not be able to measure in tiny increments, but a hand on a small forehead is the best in my opinion. It allows me to quickly decide which choice to make: stripping off (the child, naturally), opening a window, or bringing out the big guns. Liquid Paracetamol.

Just don’t get something out of the freezer before you try it.

4. The Kiss It Better Mouth

This one isn’t special. You’ve all got one, right?

Nothing fixes a small child’s minor injury better than a kiss from someone they love. She runs to you, sobbing and snivelling and dripping bodily fluids, proffering the wounded area. It’s usually something insignificant like a graze or a scratch. If you’re super unlucky, the injury is invisible. Then you end up planting a thousand kisses, searching for the spot, while an increasingly enraged child screams, ‘NOT THERE! THERE!’

I am super unlucky.

But then you find it, and you can see the tension flowing out of your child’s face. She sniffs, wipes her nose on the sleeve of her freaking t shirt, and runs off to play again.

Now that’s pretty awesome.

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5. Multi-tasking

I’ve saved the best one until last. I am a shit hot multi-tasker. I am never doing less than 3 things at any one time. I might be doing 2 of them at a sub par level, but they are happening, OK?

When we’re walking to school, I am listening to two conversations simultaneously. One is probably about flying pigs or something crazy like that, while the other is almost definitely about the apple she dropped in a puddle three goddamn weeks ago.

When I’m making dinner, I’m also supervising homework, listening out for toddler-baby shenanigans and putting away the clean dishes.

While I’m writing this blogpost, I am also thinking about doughnuts.

Is there a way to get stuff done without doing multiple things at once? If you know the trick, throw me a bone in the comments. And another thing. If I’m doing so much all at the same time, how come I never seem to get anything done?

I can now conclude, after copious amounts of research, that I am amazing. And so are you.

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What can you do?

Reasons I Am Suspicious Of Children #1: Clean Children = Superpowers?

*Warning, crappy picture alert!* Today I have learnt that if my kids are dirty, I’m the one photographing them! So you are being subjected to my heinous phone pictures.

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Now, don’t go thinking my children are unwashed urchins. I shower them. I do! It just doesn’t seem to work. They appear to be magnets for dirt.

They shower every night at about 6.30. Then comes the much-researched and proven phenomenon called the ‘post-shower glow.’ They gleam with cleanliness, all pink skinned and squeaky-clean. This lasts until about 6.35. Five minutes. That is all I get.

I think, or at least hope, most parents have been there. Please God, say it’s not just me! A small toddler hand reaches into yours, a rosy cheek is offered for a kiss. I mean, who doesn’t like that? But something doesn’t feel right. And that something is your kid.

There are a plethora of sensations you can get at this point. Here are a few off the top of my head: greasy, slimy, sticky, fuzzy, wet…there’s more, I know there’s more, but I appear to have blocked them from my mind. There is one thing, though, that they all have in common; they feel revolting.

And you can’t even do anything to prevent it. You can’t reject a kiss off your kid, for God’s sake. And you can’t turn round to them and say, “Hey, dude! Your skin feels freaking disgusting! Why don’t you get as far away from me as you can and get a wipe, or something?” Nope. You’re stuck there, skin crawling, wondering exactly what is being transferred onto your skin.

Ugh.

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I’ve tried the mess avoidance approach. Believe me, I’ve tried. No sticky food except in a secure environment (the kitchen table, I meant. I’m not some kind of monster!), regular child wiping, cleaning the house. You know, the usual approaches. But I have discovered something. If they don’t find it, it finds them.

Even restricting the messy stuff doesnt always help. The day before Hallowe’en, I made a pasta bolognese. Squeak must have been feeling peckish, because she dug in straight away. I looked down at my own food for a second. It couldn’t have been more than that, it was only one bite! And well, I guess she got a bit of an itchy eye because when I looked back up, her entire face was orange. She looked, appropriately, like a pumpkin.

And it’s not just inside the house that it happens. Whether we’re at the park, the beach, a museum, my kids find the dirt and they get completely covered in it.

The photos below are Big Girl, after a regular park trip. You know, run on the grass, play on the swings, say hi to the ducks and done. Or not, as the case may be. It was a sunny day, but I guess it must have been raining at some point because BG found the biggest, deepest muddy puddle I have ever seen.

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I saw her skirting around the edges of it with a curious look on her face. I thought nothing of it. Little Girl was only 18 months or so and needed a lot of supervision. I was just happy that BG had found something to occupy her. There are only so many times you can rescue a trapped child who’s fallen through a rope bridge before it just starts getting irksome.

I was chasing LG all over the place, diverting her over and over from running out of the gate when I heard it. The other adults in the park were laughing. And there was only one reason I could think of for that. Ah, shit.

BG had progressed a lot from her cautious exploration. In other words, she was sitting in the puddle. Yes, in it. Waist deep.

I suppose I could have told her to get out. From the expressions on the other parents’ faces, that was what they expected me to do. But if you’d seen her face, you’d have understood why I didn’t. She was grinning so hard that she looked like a Muppet, and her eyes shone. She was in heaven.

The walk home was unpleasant, to say the least. I may have a child who squeaks now, but back then I had a child who squelched.

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Ick. And she smelled like a pigsty. I had to wash her clothes three times to get the smell out. I don’t even want to think about what was in that puddle!

And that is why I find a small, immaculate child slightly unsettling. Their hair is perfectly arranged, their faces are clean. Their clothes don’t look like they were ironed with an accordion, and there are no suspicious stains. There are no scuffs on the toes of their shoes and if you look closely, their nails are immaculate.
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Now, I’m not saying that clean children are that way because they aren’t allowed to have any fun. I see them running around the park, doing all the same things that mine are. They just seem to repel dirt.
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How do they do it? Do they have superpowers? If they do, is it contagious? Because if it is, my kids are on their way round!