Moms have this gift. It isn’t a power, it’s a Darwinian evolutionary trait designed to ensure the long term viability of the species as a whole.
The inner ear wakes Mom at 3 am because there was an odd cough and knows the six year old just threw up in her bed. In the shower, a Mom senses while in mid lather-rinse-repeat that the refrigerator has been opened and an overly helpful toddler is distributing grape juice and slice-and-bake uncooked cookies to everyone. Mom’s inner eye can look at a television that is turned off and know which child stayed up late watching a video. There’s a voice that tells Mom these things.
Veteran moms have learned to trust the voice’s recommendations through the series of hard knocks that came when the voice was ignored. For the rookies out there, here are examples of the sound not heard, the sign not seen and the voice unheeded.
The mom voice specializes in preemptive alarmist thinking. When a teenager asks, “Whose purse is this?” and volunteers to take it to his sister’s room, veteran Moms know to stop the generosity in its tracks. She follows her son into his sister’s room. He doesn’t notice until she coughs. “What?” the teen asks? His hands are in the wallet. “She owes me money.”
The mom voice prompts the accidental emergency discovery. We’ve all had that moment. We’re going about our business, ordering the house, planning the day, straightening things and suddenly, our heart freezes. Things are quiet. It’s that Miss Clarvel turned on the light kind of something is not right sort of feeling. We run to check off the kids knowing, we’ll find one doing something unthinkable. Maybe it’s unraveling an entire paper towel roll down the stairs. Maybe it’s putting stuffed animals in the sink for a bath. Maybe it’s trying to will the unsweetened chocolate found in the pantry to taste good. It doesn’t matter. All you know when that silence settles on the house is “Run!” Locate and secure all non sentient beings. You have maybe ten seconds.
Sometimes, Moms get jaded and slack off for a moment. We get tired. We put the Mom voice on “Mute” and we punt. Over the years, Veteran moms learn, all punts by Mom are returned for 90+ yard touchdowns. If we punt on dinner and order food, the scale yells at us the next day. If we push a kid to go to school, around 11 o’clock am, the phone will ring. The nurse will lecture us. The child is very sick and we will feel like the winner of negligent mother of the year award. We yell up the stairs, “JUST GO TO BED!” just before we get the “But I just wanted to say prayers with you.”
Aaaaugh! The Mom voice always says do, do and do. It’s usually right but does it have to be so smug?
Today, while getting the baby dressed, I noticed my almost five and 3 ½ year old had put on their coats and gone outside. They had socks and shoes and coats and gloves and hats. The Mom voice said, “Check.” But I said they were fine. The kids stood on the back stoop. The Mom voice said “Check.” But I told it, I wasn’t worried, let the kids play. After feeding the baby and putting him in his crib for a morning nap, the Mom voice jumped up and down and said “Check!” such that I gave a cursory glance out the window. They had brought up the smallest sled and were mulling the possibility of sliding down the stairs.
“Scrub the launch!” I banged on the window. They reconsidered and went out into the yard to make snow angels.
And the Mom voice crowed, “Told you so.”