There is a certain characteristic of motherhood that cannot be learned or even taught.
It goes by various names. “Momsense,” “Mother’s Intuition,” or “the eyes in the back of my head” as my mother called it. But, the reality is the same: it’s the knack to stay a half-step ahead of our kid and the trouble he is about to cause. It’s the ability to smell our little one’s breath and know that he has strep throat. Yes, it’s that uncanny gift we have to ask the one question that will get our child to disprove her innocence. It’s a mom’s ability to employ ninja moves to prevent disaster.
Yes. It’s Momja.
I first met her, years ago, in my own mom. She knew and saw everything. (As a little girl I actually checked to see if Mom had an extra set of eyes– she doesn’t). Then, as my friends began to have babies, Momja and I got better acquainted. She could maintain a meaningful conversation while catching catapulted sippy cups. With some mysterious third arm, she could suddenly grab a child by the collar as he sprinted toward the street. “So, is she a mom or is she a ninja?” I wondered.
Eventually, I had children of my own. Would, I, too, possess motherhood’s sixth sense? Could Momja actually exist in me?
At first, I thought I was being lucky. An anticipation here. A catch there. Soon I had the ability to notice the boys’ drinking cups on the table in an enlightened way. They perched so close to the edge of the table. Then, a boy would reach for something and the next thing I knew I was like Hermione Granger commanding, “Arresto Momentum!” I could grab both cups, mid-fall, and save the contents (organic milk!) without breaking a sweat. Woah.
I finally accepted my Momja’s inner presence when my younger son was about three. It was a beautiful summer day to get ice cream. Of course, he decided that, on this day, he wanted a cone. A cup and a spoon were better suited for the hot weather. But, today, there would be no negotiating. Today, I threw caution to the wind.
So he got the cone. With sprinkles. He was delighted.
I had fear in my eyes.
Yes, despite my husband being right next to my son, only I had the vision. From across the eating area only I could see the ice cream scoop precariously placed on the sugar cone. At any moment it could fall, pushed over by an eager tongue. And…there it went.
It was like having the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Suddenly, I was there with an outstretched hand. Just. In. Time. I had saved the day. And $5. As I stood there with sprinkled ice cream melting through my fingers I calmly requested, “May I please have a cup?” My son and my husband just looked at me in disbelief. Momja.
The boys are now older, and so is Momja.
Perhaps her work is a little less physical and a bit more intuitive as she calls out from the other room, “Keep your hands out of the watermelon- it’s for dinner.” When the kids are in the basement she commands, “Stop farting on your brother!” She sees through objects, “Your belt is right here underneath the pillow.” And, she smoothly interrogates, “Don’t tell me you lost your math test. Did you crumple it up and throw it away because you were disappointed in your grade?”
I admit, sometimes I am frustrated when others can’t see what I see. Yes, I might become annoyed when they can’t do what I do. That is the burden the Momja must bear because my loved ones depend on her. After all, you can’t teach this stuff. That is why the Tooth Fairy does her very best to try to mimic Momja moves in her own work. And sometimes fails.