Mom, Interrupted By Denise Malloy
When they are babies, the interruptions are natural:
the cries for I need food, I need a clean diaper, I need to be
held. When they are toddlers, parents are most often
playing goalie: catching them by the seat of their pants
before they fall down the basement steps, grabbing their
arm before they reach to pet the snarling dog, keeping
them from walking into the street. But once they start
talking, the real interruptions flow freely, and you may
as well put away the books, magazines and newspapers,
as well as any hope of a coherent thought. You’ve just
entered the Stream of Consciousness Zone of Parenting,
where every thought that enters your child’s mind is ver-
balized the moment it hits the first brain cell. While your
child’s inner monologue will eventually develop, don’t
count on it anytime soon.
Hey Mom, where are my hockey skates? Hey Mom, have you
seen my homework folder? Hey Mom, can I go to Elliott’s
house on Saturday?
I have figured out why old people lose their hearing. It’s
because they want to. After raising children, they have used
up their allotment of hearing for this lifetime. And they
don’t want to listen to anyone anymore, about anything.
Hey Mom, the dog just threw up on the carpet. Hey Mom, can
I have five dollars? Hey Mom, how long till I can learn how
Hey Mom, where’s the glue? Hey Mom, do I have to practice
piano? Hey, Mom, can you see somebody’s soul?
I have not had a complete thought in 11 years. Come
to think of it, it’s probably been 12. It started when I was
pregnant; clearly it must have been the hormones at
work. Somehow during pregnancy, your brain starts to
short-circuit in preparation for the coming events of
the child-raising years, including sleep deprivation and
your child’s vocabulary development. Much like nature
prepares your body for labor and delivery, hormones now
help your brain develop pause waves, which cause all
coherent thoughts to immediately vaporize upon formation. In retrospect, that’s probably a good thing.
Most of the time, you think you can outsmart this immutable law of nature. But one way or another, you learn
that it is simply not possible. Once you’ve read the same
paragraph 17 times, you know it’s over. If you are lucky,
you might manage to read a caption in People magazine
in its entirety when they’re in third grade. But for the
most part, don’t bother. You can read after they go to
Hey Mom, have you seen my saxophone? Hey Mom, where’s
Ecuador? Hey Mom, how come the milk smells funny?
Hey Mom, what is a prism? Hey Mom, where’s the milk? Hey
Mom, did you get to ride the bus to school?
Pretty soon, the lobes of your brain actually begin
to shut down from lack of use. The lobes that remain
functional now operate more like a strobe light. Your
auditory nerve begins to shrivel and go limp like a
long-forgotten piece of celery. You fear that your ears
might actually bleed if they tell you about that scene
from Star Wars again.
It all begins shortly after birth, as we coo over our
adorable little bundles. Operating under the delusion
that our child is a superior genius, we mentally transform a belch into our child’s first complete sentence at
about eight weeks. Before long, when the authoritative
parenting books tell us they should be using 10 words,
we’re certain our child is beyond brilliant and is actually
using 50 or 60. The reality is, before long they really do
know 300 words and they use them all…before you’ve
had your first cup of coffee.
Hey Mom, did they have electricity when you were in school?
Hey Mom, can I have some candy? Hey Mom, can we get a
Hey Mom, where do babies come from? Hey Mom, how long
till Christmas? Hey Mom, what’s a square root?
But there will come a day and time when you can no
longer stand the interruptions, whether it’s from PMS, a
bad day at work, or simply exasperation. The resonating
sounds of your child’s constant chatter threaten to
reduce your ear canal’s hammer, anvil and stirrup into
a tiny pile of dust. Years of verbal tap dancing on the
acoustic nerve will at some point shrink your patience to
zero and you will snap. And just when you think that you
can’t take it anymore, that’s when…
I love you.
© DENISE KAPPA / DREAMSTIME.COM
Denise Malloy is a columnist for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Her new book, A Real Mother, will be available in May 2012. Visit her website or Amazon.com for details.
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