Moms are amazing people. I know this from having kept company with some incredible ones over the years. Moms are best at improvising, encountering a problem and coming up with a great solution. Like the gal I saw at Whole Foods recently. She was serene, too serene, frankly, for a mom with a demanding toddler in her grocery cart and a newborn in a sling pressed up to her chest. Just meandering through the store without an apparent care in the world, testing papayas for ripeness in the produce section, scooping bulk rice into her little baggie. I admit I instantly felt a pang of mom-envy, knowing that when my kids were that young, I was never quite so calm. But I was impressed nonetheless. And then I noticed she'd undertaken the up-till-then impossible. Back when my kids were little and it seemed as if I was nursing babies for about a decade straight, I kept thinking I could get my act together if only I could figure out how to multitask while nursing. To a degree you can when some of the kids are older -- it's a great time for storybook reading, stationary Lego-building, anything while seated and not moving beyond the reach of your arm. But it's nigh impossible to keep up on daily life-tasks like laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning when you're devoting hours a day to nursing. (Note to hypocritical self: not exactly mindful to focus on the have-to's while feeding your beloved child, during which time you should be enjoying the mother/child bonding). God forbid I ever clean back then. But then this whippersnapper grocery store woman had achieved the impossible and thrown down the gauntlet to moms everywhere: she was nursing her baby while grocery shopping. Not only was that baby slung up against her chest, freeing up her hands, it was conveniently latched on for feeding time. Wow. Now that's some serious Grade-A multitasking. I've long prided myself on being the queen of multitasking, so I took it as a challenge to my primacy as I watched her one-up the hell out of me. Sure, I realize I'm well past the stage at which I need concern myself regularly with doing ten things at once, but sheesh, how much time I could've saved if I'd have been able to knock off all those tasks in one small feat! Back in the day I could lug a kid in each arm, squat down (before my knees abandoned me) and pick up dirty laundry or strewn toys off the floor with my feet, flinging things wherever they needed to be flung. I could pretty much slice and dice and julienne potatoes one-handed with my eyes blindfolded if need be. I simply couldn't clean. Or at least I like to believe that. That evening, I recounted the Super Mom story to my husband, telling him how I could've done all those unpleasant housework things that I fell out of the habit of doing thanks to enforced idleness of nursing, had I only had a handy-dandy baby sling and some street savvy. "Are you freaking kidding me?" he laughed. Clearly he's not of the belief that child-rearing knocked the cleaning gene right out of me. Oh well, it's my story and I'm sticking to it. Alas, my skills with foot-borne pick up -- aside from harking back to my chimpanzee ancestry -- were never exactly applicable in life, only the product of time-relevant necessity. But I do give myself double props for sticktuitiveness. Not many moms who'd go that extra mile. Probably because they were too busy actually cleaning their houses. I find that I only end up really cleaning my place, really trying hard to spruce it up, when I have houseguests on the way (or when I get flour bugs in the food pantry, or something leaks under the sink, or the basement floods, but that's for another day). Disasters, inconveniences and houseguests are ready-made events to help you get your act together. That's the dilemma du jour in the Gardiner household: graduation this weekend, which means a slew of folks arriving for a party plus overnight guests, which means "oh Lord, we need a miracle." The landscaping out front? No longer Charlottesville-chic, it has come to more resemble George-of-the-Jungle. An encounter with a nearby baby copperhead ground the weeding job to a complete halt. I'm of the mind that our company would prefer us alive and snakebite-free with a really ugly front yard than on an IV at the hospital with an infusion of anti-venom flowing through our veins. As a mom, I'm a pragmatist. Moms drop everything (and pick it up with their feet, if need be) for our kids on a moments notice (not exactly helpful when trying to meet work deadlines, I might add). I met a mom recently who lamented that she gave up her dreams of working in law enforcement in order to stay home with her children. Now an empty-nester, she fantasizes about the career she now can't choose and instead temps at a preschool and TiVo's reruns of Law and Order, a far cry from the heat-packing mama she dreamed of being. She's now rendered a cop-wannabe for life, because nobody wants a 50-year old female rookie on the force (particularly in times of budget cuts). A mom friend had a huge scare with a child recently when they learned her daughter had a massive internal growth that needed to be removed immediately (which meant waiting five grueling days for surgery, natch). A near week-long vigil over the health of your child is great for your waistline, not so much for your mental state. I told her she needed the coping tool of moms that I'd discovered a year earlier from another mom I knew, to whom I'd complained about the inability to sleep, waking as I did all night with have-to's on my brain. "You have to get the drug tea," I told her. "I swear you'll sleep like a newborn." Truly I'm amazed this Sleepytime tea I told her about isn't prescription-only, it's so effective. Sure enough, my friend called me a few days later. "I owe you, big time. That stuff works wonders. I'm sleeping better than I have in years." No doubt helped by her daughters health being fine. Nonetheless, mothers have each other's backs, even if it means helping each other get a reasonable nights sleep. Sometimes we moms might seem freakish, like the dancing bear in the circus. But I can assure you we are not. Well, not usually, anyhow. And at least we don't bite. Well, not usually, anyhow. We can, however, work wonders with our feet, if push comes to shove. And now? Well, the sky's the limit when you can nurse-on-the-run. Hope it's okay with the baby.
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