The New Sounds of Motherhood (and our failed “if you can’t see me, I can’t hear you” family rule)
There was just the tiny click of the bathroom door. And first I guess a little squeak. (Note to self: we need W-D 40.) The smallest of sounds that by most ears would never be heard but for my children and I suspect for children everywhere this sound of a bathroom door screams of Mom needing privacy, and what fun is that; what need could there possible be for mom to be alone, so that tiny click of a sound echoes and within seconds I hear, “Mom! Mom! Come here! Mom! I need you!”
I actually try to reserve my trips to the restroom for when my children are gone. Or asleep. Seriously, it’s much easier that way. Whether one might need a shower or dab of lip gloss or whatever else goes on in there, I try to schedule around, well, their schedule.
But this is not always possible.
And children yelling for me from different levels of the house; yelling for me when they can’t see me and when they should assume that I can’t hear them (that’s our rule, if you can’t see me; I can’t hear you); anyway, as Coulter would say “it gets on my very last nerve.”
Now that I think about it, it’s weird for a 7-year-old to say that. Hmmm. It’s possible that he learned that from me.
We don’t have a huge home, but it has three levels and it’s kind of spread out and for some reason our “If you can’t see me, I can’t hear you policy” hasn’t really taken hold and I’m starting to think they’ve set up nanny-cams so they can detect the exact instant that I try for a moment of privacy.
So I go downstairs in search of the Mom-calls. Coulter needs me to throw away his popsicle stick.
I’m not kidding.
I try again.
Emma Claire starts yelling as if the Christmas tree is on fire and I rush back downstairs.
She’s holding Rocky and trying to get her stroller upstairs. She can’t put Rocky down and she can’t put her stroller down; thus the emergency. Of course, Rocky was supposed to be in his kennel, but this small detail is lost on her.
I try again.
Emma Claire again. There’s a red spot on her ankle. From scratching.
I can no longer remember why I even went into the restroom.
Exasperated and a tiny bit cranky, I give up.
It’s time for homework. Coulter finishes up his math and I almost missed it — he was so quiet — he scoots in next to his sister and starts teaching her math. She’s trying to write numbers and I hear him say, “OK, so if Mom gave you two apples, here let’s draw the apples, and if I gave you two more apples, how many apples would you have?”
When your children are babies, you just wait and wait and you practice and you say “Mmmm….mmmm……mmmaaammmmaaa….” And one day they say it! And maybe it’s an accident or maybe it’s for real, but your world changes and you have been called Mama!
But, as they get older; as they get louder and as the Mama turns into Mommy and then to Mom and then to MAAAHHHHHMMMMMM!; yes as they get older, I’m finding that you have to look harder for the ways that they are calling for you; wait. Not harder. Smarter.
Yes, you have to look smarter; and, well listen harder to discover the new sounds and the new ways and the new words, and sometimes it’s hard because it’s different and they aren’t the baby voices of MA-MA- or the toddler voices of Mommy, but they are the big brother voices teaching two apples plus two apples, and they are the proud little sister voices bragging on brother for said math lesson and they are the giggles erupting from the other room as I scrape un-eaten food from their plates and wonder how I’ve failed so tragically in the picky-eater column and I think of those who are going hungry and my thoughts are interrupted to the sounds of joy and hysterical laughing and I listen to it (knowing that it will be mere seconds before someone is crying), but I see it. And I hear it.
And these are the new sounds of Motherhood. And just like when they were babies, we have to practice. We have to work at it. We have to learn each new age and each new stage and we have to listen to hear our name being called.
Because they are always calling. And they believe (no, they know) we are listening; know we are hearing. Even if they are two levels down and totally ignoring the “if you can’t see me, I can’t hear you” family rule.
And now, if you will excuse me, my children are at school and I’ve been waiting since 3:00 yesterday for an uninterrupted trip to the ladies room. (And by ladies room, I mean the tiny little bathroom that the three of us share; full of ribbons and bows and goopy toothpaste containers (two, because they so obviously don’t like the same kind. Well, duh!), and little boy germs and little boy undies that never seem to find the laundry basket and toilet paper rolls that Emma Claire insists on saving for the school gerbil and kid soap that for the life of me, I can’t get anybody to use (seriously, shouldn’t the taking off of clothes and turning on of water be some sort of trigger? Some sort of clue that it’s time to use soap?” Anyway, where was I?
Oh, yes. Squeak. Click.