Eye of the Mama

Yesterday I brought the girls by a coffee shop to kill some time before the end of the workday. I chose some snacks for Ingrid and me—a fruit leather, a banana, a cookie (guess who got the sugary one)— and ordered a cup of coffee. I had Iris in one arm, the diaper bag over my shoulder, and Ingrid wound around my legs.

I turned around to notice that the guy behind me was someone I sort of know—a friend of a friend of A's. He's a physician and lives somewhere sort of nearby, and we had a little chat about the neighborhood as I waited for my drink.

As the barista set my cup on the counter, the guy sprang into solicitous mode: Looks like you're going to need some help getting all this to your table! and picked up the snacks and cup to carry for me.

It was nice of him to offer the help, and I accepted it gratefully, if a little awkwardly. (If I didn't have to carry all that stuff, what would I do with my free hand and the extra three fingers on the hand holding Iris?)

But it made me realize how accustomed we parents are to doing the impossible, and how invisible (to us, I mean) our amazing feats can be. This guy, a doctor, thought it obvious I wouldn't be able to get myself to the table, but it hadn't even crossed my mind that this was anything more than a routine trip across a room. Carrying snacks, coffee and baby? No sweat, Dr. Helpful. Try getting them dressed to play in the snow. Try getting them both to sleep at once. Come over and help me carry laundry around the house any day of the week and gasp with awe as I tote laundry basket and baby down the basement stairs at once.

What do you do every day that your average childless doctor, physicist, sky diver, or literary hero would believe to be impossible?


  1. Well, there was that period of time where I pumped 13x a day and took care of a newborn, a house, and five pets. Boy was that fun.

    And now must the same as you, except just the one kid. The current one for me is getting my school stuff and my purse and Baby's daycare stuff and Baby and (these days) caged squirrels all to my car at the same time in the rain.

  2. Well, I don't do this anymore, but breastfeeding twins would be up there. The UPS guy who knocked on my window during an inopportune moment certainly seemed, um, impressed. There's nursing one baby, while on the toilet myself, while rocking the other one in the bouncy seat with my foot. Having a baby spit up over my shoulder and down the back of my pants, and not dealing with it for a good hour because that same baby plus his brother kept me a wee bit busy for a while. Making dinner with one on my back and one in the sling, all while bouncing up and down in just the right rythm. Taking care of twin babies with a sprained ankle (AKA, the weekend of not getting off the living room floor). Or the stomach flu. Or a migraine. Trying to pee in a public restroom while trying to keep one boy out of the sanitary box, and another from wiping mama's bottom. "I juss wannna heeeeeeelp yooo, mama!"

    Yeah. I hear you. Plus, doctors even get paychecks! And a suffix! We are fucking rock stars.

  3. Wait a second. You can actually get your two to sleep AT THE SAME TIME? I have put more miles on my car in the last 6 months just trying to get these 2 to sleep.

    You rock. I am duly impressed!

    Also, Emmie's comment had me rolling - for a second, I thought the UPS guy had actually spied her on the toilet nursing. Then, I noticed the appropriately place punctuation. hee!

  4. The other day I dragged our 7-foot Christmas tree to the curb while wearing the baby in a sling and making sure the toddler didn't run in the street. Piece of cake!

  5. Funny you post this because yesterday I was thinking about just how capable I am with only one arm. It's only been two weeks, so I can only imagine that my new found skill will only get better with time.

  6. I think most people underestimate how much mamas can handle at one time. In a cumulative sense, I'd say for me it's working full-time, coming home to (sometimes) cook two dinners, bathing, reading, playing, and getting a toddler to bed. Throw in the fact that my house is generally not a complete mess, and I think it's all rather quite an accomplishment.

    As far as smaller, individual things, my current triumph is entertaining aforementioned toddler while packing groceries, paying the cashier, making small talk with cashier, babbling to toddler, with the occasional snack thrown in.

    We're multi-taskers, what can we say?