Mommy Math

Chloe + Caleb = Fun!

Published in baystate Parent Magazine and Memphis Parent

“Hey Mom! Can you help me with my math?”
“Mommy! Caleb’s eating the cat food again!”
“Mom! The toilet’s overflowing!”
“Mama mama mama!”

A cacophony of chaos, all directed at me in a space of a few minutes. Just multiply those minutes by hours, add in a thousand interruptions, subtract non-life-threatening disasters, divide by stolen bathroom breaks, and then raise it all exponentially to the power of four kids ranging in ages from 15 months to 11 years, and you’ve got the new mommy math.  It all adds up rather quickly, and frankly makes me feel as if I’ve passed the test without understanding the logic behind it all.

Mom is “wow” spelled upside down.  It’s a life filled with the unexpected, the uninhibited, the unusual, and the unfathomable.

Take the unexpected, for example.  A few short months after I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I became the best-read expert on pregnancy and childrearing.  I stocked my nightstand with “What to Expect When Your Expecting”, “Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics”, and other child-rearing how-to’s, and devoured each word of wisdom within the pages of these primers.  I dutifully checked off each item in the layette list, packed all the appropriate things for the hospital (tennis balls, classical music, and Popsicles ?!), and  waited, armed and ready, for the big day.

Then my first-born son arrived.  Need I say more?  I quickly realized that Jacob wasn’t in on my parenting plan.  He was a master at doing the unexpected, and at the most inappropriate times.  As a newborn, he cried constantly.  Nursing time with mamma morphed from a natural, God-given gift to an unnatural, non-stop nightmare.  When I realized it wasn’t quite as simple as the “Breastfeeding Basics” videotape had led me to believe, I resorted to sticking ice cubes on my gum-torn nipples to numb them before he latched on. That was just the beginning.

By the time I had my second child, I was beginning to realize that children are no respecters of decency or decorum.  If you have a toddler, you know exactly what I mean.  These little tykes know exactly what they want, when they want it, and have no shame expressing themselves to that end.  There’s no inhibition.  I’ll never forget the time I stood, mortified, in the frozen food section while my demon-possessed two-year-old writhed spasmodically on the floor, pounding her fists, screaming “I-scream! I-scream!”  No joke.  Or, when my three-year-old, proud of his potty accomplishments, yelled from inside the very-quiet library bathroom “Uuhh! Aahh!  It’s coming, Mommy, it’s coming, and it’s Number Two!”

When my third child arrived on the scene, life became pretty bizarre.  By this time I had ditched all the “how-to” books and created my own practical mommy manual.  Someone’s crying?  No problem, it’s got that “so-in-so-did-such-in-such-to-me” sound.  No need to intervene, they’ll work it out diplomatically. I hope.  Joel is unwinding the toilet paper? Great!  That’s worth at least ten minutes of uninterrupted entertainment, at a cost of only 50 cents a roll!  A bargain in my book.  The things I thought I would NEVER allow, not with MY children… well, let’s just say I relaxed my standards quite a bit.  A bit unusual?  Not when you have three kids under the age of six.

Then came my fourth child, born five years to the day after my third.  I thought I had seen it all, done it all, cleaned it all, and smelled it all.  But surprisingly, with this little baby, I experienced the unfathomable joy of being a Mom all over again.  His tiny newborn noises, his first smile, his chubby little arms wrapped tightly around my neck.  The most mundane things became magical.  The best part of this newest addition to our family is that my other children are just as enthralled with this baby as I am.  Caleb has not one, not two, but five people who live with him, love, him, read to him, play with him, and make us all laugh a great deal.

So, it all adds up.  Child by child, moment by moment, year by year.  And on the days when my children can be heard yelling, “Hey Mom!” “Mommy!” “Mom!” “Ma ma!” from the farthest four corners of our house, I humbly remind myself that this mommy thing is not an elaborate problem to be solved, but an exponential gift to ponder.

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2 Responses to “Mommy Math”

  1. Hi Trish,

    I just read this article and I think it’s terrific! HIlarious and very human. The opening paragraph draws me in immediately with the funny line about Caleb eating the cat food again. The library story is down-right amusing. Yay to moms especially ones with big families. My mom has five kids so she can probably relate to some things. Cute pic of Caleb and Chloe btw… the type of wholesome, All-American lifestyle photos that would make for lovely, polished stock photography 😛

  2. Hi, Trish!
    I stumbled upon your blog through a circuitous route, and I have to tell you that I absolutely love this “Mommy Math”! … Truly an exponential gift to ponder!

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