Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Mom Whisperer

The moment you give birth, you are given a gift above and beyond the beautiful new life that you brought into the world. You are suddenly blessed with superhuman hearing. When my kids were infants, I could hear the sound of their sleeping and especially their pre-dawn awakenings even in the midst of my deepest sleep. And this was before the prevalence of baby monitors. It was crazy, but I knew when my babies were waking up even before they cried. For some reason, my husband was not blessed with this same power. Sometimes after an especially long, sleepless night spent in a rocking chair, baby on shoulder while watching VH1, he would wake up in the morning, look at us and ask: "Did the baby get up a lot last night?"

As my kids grew, this power became my own personal built-in baby monitor. I could easily tell the difference between plastic toys falling over and CDs being unceremoniously dumped from a shelf. I could hear a tumble that would result in a bruise and tears versus gentle landings on a diapered "bumper." I started to learn when to rush to their side or when to let them solve their own mini crises.

Once school started, I could tell which child had really gone to bed and which one was still playing GameBoy or listening to Britney Spears. I knew who actually woke up on time for school and who would need a second wake-up call. When homework was being done, I knew who was actually doing it and who was trying their hardest without much success.

Now that they're teens, their sounds might be louder, but they often make much more subtle statements that often require interpretation. A slammed door can mean that they hate their sibling, don't want to go to school or simply can't find something to wear. A rock power chord on the guitar can mean that a puppy love has become more challenging than expected or perhaps better than they ever thought possible.

I'm learning to distinguish other sounds as well. I'm getting really good at hearing the difference between typing a term paper and Instant Messaging friends. I know when a bedroom is truly being cleaned as opposed to dancing around pretending to be Kelly Clarkson. I can hear doors that haven't been closed and coats that haven't been hung up. Sometimes I scare myself.

I can tell the minute that they wake up what mood they're in...without them ever saying a word. I listen for the way faucets are turned on or backpacks are loaded.

On a good day, I can hear the sounds of their happiness - a friendly scratch for the dog, shoes gently slipped off instead of flung, even soft humming if things are going particularly well.

And now that one is nearly off to college, I realize that this soundscape will soon change again. Sure, it'll be quieter and there'll be less arguments and screaming at each other, but I think in a funny way, I'll miss the extra sounds that signal that one of my own is safely home again.


At 5:46 PM , Anonymous Yvonne said...

This was perfect!


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