I’m not going to own up to having done all of these – because that would be embarrassing. But, then, one person’s “embarrassing” is another’s “heroic” … or “brave” or “badass” or “tenacious.”
Just now, sitting on the couch in my living room, having just fed and changed and soothed two children younger than three before putting them down for naps, I – no joke – just told my husband, “I feel like I’m in a war.”
I haven’t showered for more than 48 hours. I smell terrible, I feel terrible, and I’m exhausted. I randomly had to give relatives a ride home last night – to their home 2 hours away – and then drive back again, starting the whole thing at 8:30 p.m.
This is my “relaxing” weekend after having traveled 6 hours last weekend for my husband to be in a wedding – also with those two kids under three in tow.
In every spare minute (naptime), I sit and work. I’ve prepared four meals so far today (it’s noon on a Sunday) – three to be consumed immediately and one for later this week.
I’m not complaining – not at all. I’m just trying to convey that moms have an incredible inner fortitude, an amazing will to push through and do things they never before thought possible, whether it’s working hard on zero sleep, making incredible self-sacrifices, or even – and this is a common one – getting (and sometimes staying) incredibly dirty.
Want some examples? Here are 15 things moms have done they seriously didn’t even think were possible.
15 Liquid Sh@t
Have you ever felt another human’s excrement as it seeps between your fingers?
Many moms – and some dads – certainly have.
I have at least twice, myself. See, the alternative would be purchasing and installing new carpet, and quite frankly, I can’t afford nor do I have the time for that.
So when the diaper’s off, I’m wiping up my baby’s bottom, and that thing starts to fire off again, my instinct is not to back away in fear (as I’ve witnessed others do before, to be sure) but rather to shoot my arm out and actually cup my hand under the bottom in question.
Just be sure to squeeze those capable fingers together tight to prevent further leakage.
Looking back, I have no clue how I’ve been able to quarantine these number-twos, get the baby clean and dressed again, and have my carpet and furniture live to tell the tale.
14 Mixing Business With Business
Let’s get brutally honest. With all the hours spent nursing a baby – especially a newborn – there is bound to be a time during which poor mom suddenly (and urgently) needs to use the bathroom but doesn’t have the heart to unlatch her poor hungry babe.
What many moms find – in times of need – is that it is actually possible to stand up from the nursing chair or couch, using one arm to keep the baby in a cradle hold, tiptoe to the toilet (while still breastfeeding), use the one free hand to pull pants down, and sit.
The arm strength required to do this, alone, is quite impressive, if you think about it – but then moms are used to holding 10-30 pounds in one arm while doing any number of things with the other.
13 The Wonder Of Wipey-Dipes
Name a task, and I’ve probably completed it using none other than a baby’s butt wipe.
Before becoming a parent, you might have assumed these pre-moistened wonders were just for wiping number-twos off of tiny behinds, but oh no. They are so, so much more.
They’re for cleaning your bathroom sink. They’re for removing your makeup or “taking a shower” when you don’t have the time or aren’t in a place that you can do these things by more traditional means (like actually taking a shower).
They’re for scrubbing spit-up out of the carpet before it becomes discolored. They’re for removing peanut butter, jelly, and beyond from tiny fingers before said fingers encounter furniture, clothing, and hair.
Thank goodness we almost always have baby wipes with us – and how horrifying to discover when they’ve unexpectedly run out…
12 The Adventures Of Zombie Mom
You thought you were tired in college during finals. You felt you had fortitude when you traveled through Europe staying in hostels here and there. You knew you were quite amazing when you survived the early weeks and months with a newborn.
And then you went back to work.
How moms take care of patients, file paperwork, fill orders, write and edit articles (ahem), and more after getting maybe three half-hour segments of sleep during the previous night is the stuff of superhero stories. It’s pushing the body to its utter limits – and then some.
It’s not that it’s fun. It’s not that we choose to do it. It’s just that we have no choice but to do whatever it is that we need to do.
We may be tired, but that doesn’t mean there’s the option to quit.
11 Multitasking At Its Finest
Some way, somehow, you’ve got to fit in eating, getting a baby or child fed, getting to where you need to go, making sure you have food and toilet paper at the house, and doing it all (hopefully) without a small person screaming at you – at least not all the time, anyway.
That’s why moms find themselves usually doing at least three things at once, because the truth is we need about 72 hours in each day.
But because we don’t have magical time-stretching-out abilities, we develop incredible task-cramming-in skills.
We eat sandwiches while driving while singing a baby in the backseat to sleep. We work on a laptop while having a conversation while cooking breakfast. We go to the bathroom while brushing our teethe while having “alone time.” And whatever we do, we do it – astoundingly, miraculously – well.
10 Gotta Go!
You may have noticed that a fair number of these are bathroom-related. But it makes sense if you think about it. Before we were parents, we didn’t have to give much thought or effort to going to the bathroom. When we needed to go, we headed in, did our thing, and we were done.
But once you’re a parent, your peeing and other business must be scheduled in around when children are in a contained and safe environment, when they don’t need to be fed or changed or put on the potty themselves, when you haven’t just loaded everyone up into the car or strapped a baby to you in a front pack.
These open moments can be few and far between – and that’s why moms quite commonly do what they need to do to go when (and where) they need to go.
Ask around, and I bet you’ll find that you do in fact know a mother who’s peed in her yard, because she just can’t usher everyone back into the house, take off their muddy shoes, and wash all of their hands – again. You’ll find you know moms who have done number-ones in baby diapers in the car. You’ll discover parents who laugh at the concept of closing public-restroom-stall doors.
9 Safety First
I am in no way endorsing this action – I’m just saying that it’s possible, amazing and unbelievable though it is.
If you’ve ever had a baby screaming at you from half a foot away while confined in a car, you know that it’s one of the more stressful experiences of life. You also probably know that nothing soothes a crying baby quite like a good old-fashioned boob.
And some brave and ingenious mamas have actually found ways to breastfeed their babies while everyone is riding in the car.
How they manage to adhere to traffic laws is beyond me, as hovering above the middle of the back seat while the car is in motion is generally frowned upon (and heavily fined) here in California.
But through acts of contortion, strength, and perhaps a little magic, moms satisfy their babes and keep on rollin’.
8 Being Nosey
Isn’t it an annoying feeling to have a crusty booger stuck in your nose? It scrapes, it pokes, and worst of all, it makes it harder to breathe (and sometimes sleep, too).
But infants just don’t have the fine motor control (or wherewithal) to clear the passage themselves, so it falls on – you guessed it – moms to do the dirty work once again.
I personally had to develop a rather skilled and precise strategy with my first child. Her nose hole was just so small that there was no way that bulb syringe provided by the hospital was going to fit up there to help extract the snot with the power of suction. But if I folded a tissue just so and passed it over the booger enough to snag it (this often took multiple attempts), I could often then pull the entirety of it out, freeing things up for my little love to breathe.
Who knew you could pick someone else’s nose?
7 Pump Up The Jams
Consider your posture while typing at your desk or on a laptop. Now consider the action required to continue typing, clicking, and scrolling with the laptop about a foot away – to avoid knocking the bottles and tubing hooked up to you while pumping breast milk.
Is it easy to continue working on a computer – say writing articles about pregnancy, babies, and parenting – while pumping? Nope. Is it possible? You better believe it.
I generally try to reserve pumping for my “me” time (read: mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Facebook). But my days tend to fill up pretty fast, and that 30 – 40 minutes sometimes makes all the difference when it comes to getting all my work done.
My arms are already pretty strong from carrying a 2-year-old and a baby around on and off throughout each day, so I guess I can look at it as just another amazing way to get a workout.
6 Plan On Perseverance
I think the most amazing thing moms do – the one that goes unrecognized by almost everyone in their lives – is just keep on going.
You may think you understand being pushed to your limits, wallowing through the murk of exhaustion and then having unforeseen obstacles pop up to try to stop you out of nowhere. And then you become a mom. And you realize that every single day can feel like this.
You think you’ve given everything you have – and then more is asked of you. You think you’ve gotten through it, and then there’s more heaped on your already overflowing plate.
Moms persevere through hunger, exhaustion, dirty work, emotional care, and more.
And perhaps most amazingly of all, they often do it all with a big smile on their face.
5 Just Fab
At some stages in some women’s lives, getting “dressed up” can mean really putting on quite a production.
Consider getting ready for your wedding day, dressing for prom, or prepping for a big date. How many man-hours – how much care and preparation – were involved?
There’s hair, which can start the day or night before. There’s moisturizing, hair removal, makeup application, and more makeup application. There are powders and creams and salves and colors and color correctors…
That’s why it’s quite amazing for some moms to look back on these times and have a good laugh – because currently their “beauty regime” involves putting on whatever ChapStick they found at the bottom of their purse… because getting “dressed up” means ANYTHING THAT’S NOT PAJAMAS.
People change, and so do their standards. I kid you not that when I want to feel “nice” in the evening, I often put on tinted lip balm and call it good. Yep, believe it or not, it’s possible to truly simplify your beauty routine.
4 Bipedal Business
Just as you may have considered baby wipes appropriate only for, well, wiping a baby only to discover they were in fact the perfect tool for most jobs in your life, you might have also discovered your hands weren’t the only tools useful for grabbing, lifting, cleaning, and more once you became a mom.
Without pause, I use my feet to do everything. I clean up spit-up after it splats onto the floor. I pic up toys and hand them to my children (while holding children).
My hands aren’t often available, and the task at hand can’t often wait.
I’ve jiggled toys and rocked bouncy chairs while pumping, working, or talking on the phone. I’ve done things I never thought possible using my toes – because I just can’t crouch down to pick something up (AGAIN) while holding a 20-pound child.
3 Hidden Talents
You know when you’re so tired you feel like you might burst into tears, your toddler decides not to eat breakfast, your baby starts fussing, and then everything starts to work out the minute you begin to sing and dance your way around the kitchen? I do!
Song and dance have magical healing (and distracting) qualities, for the little ones, especially. A toddler’s breakfast protest can quickly turn to distracted delight as she observes with wonder her mom twirling and swirling about the room, belting a tune she crafted on the spot just for the occasion.
A baby’s fussiness turns to soothed satisfaction when movement and rhythm come to the party.
Yes, moms may feel more like running back to bed, but they can’t. They might feel like throwing a fit themselves, but instead they may – and I know from experience – create a musical on the fly.
2 Explosive Energy
As a mother, at some point, you’re bound to find yourself with liquid poo all over your hands. Though diaper and dress carefully we may, there will be blowouts, when number-twos leak or shoot out the backs, fronts, or leg holes of diapers.
And if you thought it was tricky business to deal with these bad boys in the comfort of your own home, try coping with the cleanup when you’re on the move – say getting your baby out of the car in a grocery store parking lot.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have spare clothing along – for everyone. If you’re creative, you’ll use the spare pants and jacket you had in your bag for your toddler to wrap your naked babe. And if you were really thinkin’ when you packed that bag, you’ll have a plastic bag in there you can pull out to shove the soiled clothing into until you can access a washing machine / sink.
1 There’s No “I” In “Mom”
You wouldn’t think it was possible to do a sing-song voice and recite the itsy-bitsy spider while crying – but if you’re a mom, it’s likely you’ve done this at least once before.
With sleep deprivation, quite possibly some hormonal fluctuations postpartum and during breastfeeding, and the stress of adjusting to life as a parent, it can all be a bit overwhelming, to say the least. But there’s no pause button. Someone has to keep that baby entertained. Someone has to turn that toddler’s near-tantrum into a smile (or at least not a scream).
So moms focus on others’ emotions even while in the midst of releasing their own.
It’s not healthy to hold it in, even if you can, so by all means cry if you need to cry. And you may even find yourself laughing at the image of yourself sobbing as you do your most enthusiastic wipers on the bus.
Sources: BabyCenter.com, YouTube.com, my life