Daily Archives: February 16, 2011

She Says… Mom Ears

Moms have a number of different superpowers that seem to bubble up to the surface once they have a baby:

  • Mom touch (the gentle hug that makes booboos go away and stops tears)
  • Mom eyes-in-the-back-of-her-head (the ones that catch the little munchkins, and husbands, stealing cookies or picking bites out of the food she’s cooking for dinner)
  • Mom strength (that can lift a car or run faster than a train to save her baby)
  • Mom brain (that may not be able to remember what day it is or if she brushed her hair this morning, but somehow still remembers to pack lunches and find lost mittens and bake cookies for her child’s kindergarten class)
  • Mom sense (the ability to know if her baby has a fever with the quick touch of her hand, the feeling that there’s going to be a poopsplosion right before she gets in the car so she waits it out, the feeling of understanding every little pout and sad face)

Over the last few weeks I think I’ve developed a new one: Mom ears. When Owen was teeny tiny, I would leave the monitor on full blast so that I could hear every little creak and breath and finger wiggle. Since he started sleeping through the night a few months ago, I slowly turned the monitor down, night by night, so that I wasn’t waking up every time he stirred. He is very good at putting himself back to sleep if he wakes during the night, so Benjamin and I give him the opportunity to practice this important skill by not going to him when he cries (to a point — if he cries for awhile and the sound of his cry is escalating or sounds different than normal, you better believe we’re in there in a heartbeat).

Once we hit that point of letting him fuss it out at night, there was nothing helpful about me waking up every time he made a noise just to listen to him cry and make sure he settled down. So a week or two ago I did something I had never done before: I turned the monitor OFF. It felt quiet. Too quiet. I felt guilty that I wouldn’t hear him, but Benjamin reminded me that if we’re not going in there anyway, what’s the point of us all not sleeping? And since I did that, something amazing happened. It’s like my ears have tuned into the exact sound of his cry. I can sleep through Benjamin coming home from a work trip and brushing his teeth and climbing into bed, but when Owen is crying, my eyes pop open like someone just smacked me across the face. It’s not that his cry is loud (though his room is right next to ours in a converted attic space), it’s that my body reacts so strongly to the sound of his voice. One night I even woke up and was listening to him fuss when Benjamin woke up too. He said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Owen’s crying”. And he could barely hear him!

An interesting study was done that showed that men are more likely to be woken up by crickets chirping or a dripping faucet than a baby crying. A baby crying didn’t even make the top ten for men. For women, it’s #1. Dripping faucet is #2, which I really don’t understand. When was the last time you woke up to water dripping? Anyway, I digress.

Certainly there is something biological that accounts for my mom ears! What are your mom superpowers?