I’m not a doctor, and I don’t claim to know the things they know. But I am a mother, and when it comes to my children, I believe I have a “sixth” sense. I’m pretty good at recognizing when they are really sick or really hurt – and not just suffering from a pathetically simple, “no you don’t need Penicillin or Demerol or Xanax (as if)” head cold, and not just throwing up because they are hung over even though they deny it, and not just needing to stay home from school because they “have a test today and didn’t study for it”, and not just distressingly hobbling about because they twisted an ankle playing soccer and now it’s broken, but when I ask them if they want Chinese food, they magically run across the room. OK, so my husband could help me with that last one. He is an orthopaedic surgeon.
All mothers have this otherworldly “kinesthesia”, this “ability to know things, don’t ask how” – at least, most of us do. It’s part of our biology, our scientific, rudimentary, plasmic, constitutional, nuclear, basil (is that a spice?) make-up. Like knowing to check the doors at night to see if anyone has locked them – they haven’t. Like knowing when NOT to ask my daughter about her schoolwork/to help clean the house/to be nice to her brothers so she doesn’t bite my head off (she’s pre-period, duh!) – as smart as he is, that’s a skill that my husband does NOT possess. Like knowing to bring snacks on a two-hour car ride (even when the kids are adults), because low blood sugar means low blood sugar no matter how old you are, and it can turn a perfectly normal boy/man into a monster, so it’s best to be prepared.
I’m also an “art” person – did I mention that before? (You can read more about the difference between “art” people and “science” people here.) And yes, I AM a mother. Put the two together, and you have an amazing individual who can clean toilets AND think of essay ideas, who can make lunches (with her eyes closed) AND spout dope rap lyrics (because her son is forcing her to), who can drive to dance and soccer and football practice (overlapping and late to each one) AND plan her next visual masterpiece, which will turn out on the same level as something done by Monet, or Picasso, or Pollock, or Matisse. Is your mind blown? It should be.
In all seriousness though, a mother knows when one of her children is in danger – physically, emotionally, mentally, doesn’t matter. We just know. We get that feeling in our gut, like when the kids are playing in the basement and all of a sudden, we hear a heart-stopping wail coming up the stairs. We know when someone is upset that they didn’t get the toy they wanted, or when their brother body-slammed them into the couch but they are still OK enough to choke him back, and we know when someone knocks out one of their front teeth front running across the room, tripping over the vacuum cleaner cord, and smashing their face on the corner of the coffee table. We know the difference between those cries.
One thing I’m not quite sure about however: whether or not my daughter is a vampire. It seems that she might be sometimes. All the blank (almost dead) stares and the occasional hissing – especially when I change the channel on the television and she was “watching something” but she was also in the kitchen “getting a drink”, so how was I supposed to know? When people make the comment, “Is there something different about her? I just can’t put my finger on it…” I reply by saying that we had to start filing her fangs down at the age of four so people wouldn’t notice them when she went to school. That usually ends the conversation. It’s never a positive one anyway. It only leads to them questioning my parenting skills, and it’s often initiated by a person who doesn’t have children. I don’t want to have to tell them to go fuck themselves.
Another thing I know as a mother is that the most obvious answer is usually the right one. My husband – the doctor, the smarty pants, the pattern seeker, the “how hard is this concept to understand?” says – if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it usually IS a duck. Like I needed him to remind me of that. So no Charles – the fact that you wake up some mornings with a slightly bloody nose does not mean that you have hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (or HHT). It means that it’s winter, and your house is dry because we live in Ottawa and you don’t have a humidifier, and you don’t drink enough water, not to mention that you drink WAY to much Red Bull. That shit is bad for you. No wonder, you are often a “I feel anxious” nervous wreck. Come on people. Think logically here.
It’s all about seeing individuals in their “regular”. I mean, if you have a kid who is very wild and boisterous and sometimes uncivilized (which mine typically are) and then suddenly, they are always laying on the couch in their pajamas, not eating, not responding when you ask “who wants $100?”, it means either a) something is physically and/or mentally wrong with them – could be either these days (the internet and social media can be a real mind fuck), or b) it means that they got a Playstation 4, 500 GB “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” bundle for Christmas. It’s all about seeing the “big picture”, something the almighty “doctor” rarely has time to ferret out, what with cuts to healthcare. Thus, mothers tend to know when there’s a real problem before anyone else.
Now sure, I couldn’t predict that Charles would run out into the middle of the road in front of a fire truck when he was four. He seemed like he would walk down the street holding the side of the stroller like he did the other one hundred times that we’d walked that way – not suddenly veering off to head down the crooked path under the tunnel. I am not a mind reader, and kids, well, they are lunatics sometimes. Thank goodness for careful-driving and very hunky fire fighters. 😉
What point am I trying to make here? Why am I rambling on for so long about basically nothing? It’s just to tell my kids that if they come to me and ask for my advice about something – like “Wah, wah, wah, am I sick, is there something seriously wrong with me?” and I say no, then they should believe me and not go wasting their time to ask their father. He’s too busy helping other (less important) people anyway.
And as he always says (rather sarcastically, I might add), “Mandy MD has spoken. You’re fine. She knows.” From experience – and with an equal (if not better) track record than he has – most of the time, I do.