Motherly skills include controlling children with a single jalapeño

image This year perhaps more than any other, my wife deserves something special for Mother’s Day. That’s because in spite of our youngest daughter’s many teenaged mood swings, my wife has somehow managed to avoid what I’m sure has been a strong (some might even say natural) urge to eat her young. This hasn’t been easy. As I mentioned, our daughter is experiencing the physical and emotional challenges that accompany adolescence. One minute she is merrily talking about her favorite kind of cheese; the next minute, she is blaming cheese for ruining her life. As a father, my instinct is to fix the problem by addressing the root of the issue by going directly to the refrigerator and throwing out everything that is — or has the potential of becoming — a cheese-like substance.

My wife, on the other hand, understands there are complex emotional issues at work, and that, in spite of my good intentions, the likelihood of me being able to resolve such issues is akin to having a bomb successfully de-activated by a goat. Thanks to her motherly intuition, my wife was able to explain to me that what our daughter says, and what she really means, are two completely different things.

As I understand it, this is the first step to becoming a woman.

Being a man, I am no stranger to this concept.

However, I was in denial when it came to my daughter. Mostly because I didn’t want to admit that she is growing up; time is slipping away. And that, before I know it, my wife and daughter will probably be sharing the same PMS cycle.

Though I kept this realization to myself, it was clear that my wife’s insightfulness is something that only comes with motherhood. It’s a bond that starts during that first nine months, when mother and child reach a special understanding that if baby doesn’t stop using mommy’s bladder for step aerobics, mommy will eat a raw jalapeno. In this way, even before birth, a child learns Mom will endure physical or emotional discomfort if it means providing a valuable life lesson; because that’s what Moms do best.

Endure.

If you don’t believe me, then I have two words for you: Breast Pump. True, not every mother utilized this torture device, but the mere thought that she could have is reason enough for a child to be respectful. If you’re in doubt, go right now to the nearest full-service car wash, attach an industrial car vacuum nozzle to one of your mammilla, push the “on” button, and keep it there until a) your chest resembles a deflated balloon animal, or b) someone calls the police.

You will quickly realize just one of the many things a mother endures for the sake of her child’s wellbeing and why, if it were up to fathers to provide breast milk to the human species, we’d all be nursed by monkeys.

And remember that breast pumping came after nine months of losing control over most of her bodily functions, including — but not limited to — food cravings. These cravings came as a direct result of YOUR needs inside the womb, even though, in many cases, those needs could gag a contestant on Dumpster Diver.

But she did it anyway, in spite of the fact that as you were developing and shaping, so was she: Developing swollen feet the size of couch cushions, and taking the shape of a giant Weeble capable of destroying Tokyo. Keep in mind that during this process, she was still merrily preparing for your arrival by hanging borders, assembling mobiles, making trips to the doctor —all while visiting the bathroom once every three minutes.

Then finally, to show your appreciation upon arriving into the world, you treat her to an episiotomy.

Chances are, you won’t find any of this in a greeting card. Mainly because there are very few phrases that rhyme with “episiotomy.” Although “The things you taught-a me since your episiotomy” has potential.

However you say it, make sure to give a big “Thank You” to all the wonderful mothers out there, especially those who are celebrating their very first Mother’s Day this year!

You know who you are.

If you don’t, you might try turning down that breast pump a notch or two…

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(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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40 thoughts on “Motherly skills include controlling children with a single jalapeño

  1. I would offer a comment and contribute to your discussion on motherly wisdom and how to raise a daughter, but, not having kids myself yet, I wouldn’t want to get jalapeno business.

    (/ba-dum-psh).

  2. Thank you, Ned. So few men truly understand the sacrifices we mothers make. I suspect that greeting card might actually get a few laughs (or an ear cuffing, depending on the mother).

    • You’re so welcome 😉 All kidding aside, I truly do appreciate all the sacrifices mother’s make and endure — for their kids and/or husbands.

  3. Bravo, Ned! What a beautiful and hilarious tribute to your lovely wife and to all mothers. I still have nightmares about my breast pump days and can remember a Friday night sitting in the living room with my husband, watching a movie and saying, “I can’t believe that this is my life now, I am pumping liquid from my breast on a Friday night.” Regarding your daughter, be afraid. Be very afraid. It’s best to say nothing. Ours is 19 and we still say nothing. 🙂

    • Thanks so much. That means a lot coming from an actual mother with a teenager. We’ve got three still at home, so there’s a lot of “saying nothing” going on at our house 😉

  4. I don’t need to tell you that it does get better. I know because my daughter is now 45 years old and I only get the stink eye about once per visit. All that good mothering is paying off.

    Your mother’s day tribute is marvellous… and funny… and life-affirming… and positive… and – ok, you take the non-fruit cake. Great post!

  5. Brilliantly funny and hits a little too close to home with the breast pump. I sometimes wish I had only had an episiotomy; although not fun to heal from. Having an unexpected very early C-section followed by daily 75 minutes drives (each way) to visit the little dude who was helicoptered to a bigger hospital 2 hours after his birth, really sucked. I still tell him how envious I am that he got a helicopter ride, and I had to stay behind. I love to fly.

    I suppose the only thing somewhat comparable to having to deal with a daughter and monthly PMS, is having a son who is not always well emotionally regulated to begin with, and is so energetically sensitive that he cycles with the moon.

    Thanks for the wonderful Mother’s Day tribute!

  6. a lovely ode to mothers, with an understanding for what makes them tick. though the daughters remain a bit of a mystery to most. you can only imagine my house as a single other with 3 daughters all teens at one time…no, you cannot )

    • You know what? I imagine your house is pretty level. I know mine is better with only mom there!! I didn’t do it with 3 daughters, I did it with only 1 daughter, and a son. We made it pretty much unscathed.. I found the boy to be harder, as I understood the feelings of a teenage girl, but the feelings of the teenage boy still remain a mystery!

  7. For some reason, I’m experiencing some PTSD “Pump Trickle Suck Disorder”….don’t ask – I thought I’d buried those memories with the blankety-blank chuks pads and double-fisted devil Medela 😉

  8. My sister was the first of me and my siblings to give birth. I went to the hospital for this momentous occasion and my mother, who’d been invited to be in the delivery room with my sister and brother-in-law, decided I should witness the miracle of birth instead. It would have spared me some trauma, and the sight of an episiotomy, if she’d just said, “Honey, I don’t think you should have kids.”

  9. Thanks, Ned! I nominate you for Hallmark Writer of the Year. (And let’s not talk about using a car charger for your breast pump while driving a state vehicle down the interstate. That adds a whole new level of diabolical to the situation.)

  10. Gosh Ned, thanks for bringing up a bunch of stuff I’d managed to forget about 🙂

    I was a dedicated breastfeeder and the pump was my friend. Especially for the nights that mommy needed a little bit (ahem) of red wine. My husband (now my ex) sent me away for a night away, about two weeks after my son was born, and I still had to get up in the middle of the night to pump.

    You failed to mention what happens when a regular breastfeeder doesn’t pump or use her offspring to release the buildup. I used to call my boobs “rockstar boobs” because, well… you can imagine, I’m sure. I still remember being in a changing room, trying on nursing bras (naturally) and just a slight amount of pressure made me squirt breastmilk onto the wall.

    Wow, did I feel sexy in that moment. But it was all worth it.

    Just last week I was telling my son about his birth (it’s his birthday this week) and was telling him all about foreceps (I likened them to large escargot tongs), and heart monitors, and ICU… it’s amazing everything worked out the way it did, and I’m forever grateful.

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