They never mention it in the Mom Handbook, but caring for small children means you pack for all occasions. Daily. You also develop other seemingly strange habits but, hey, whatever gets everyone through the day alive, fed and appropriately dressed.
Take fruit, as an example. Anyone who's had to whip out a snack to comfort an unhappy toddler will know that having a banana in your purse—right there next to your Altoids and cell phone—makes perfect sense. Until you accidentally pull out that banana to make a call.
But mom's weird habits aren't just about food ...
And you will keep asking for eternity. My kids are grown now and I still do this. Other moms still ask me, too.( It's a reflex, muscle memory, some may even say PTSD.) The strange thing is, half the time when I'm asked, I jump up and go just to avoid getting in trouble.
Because "Breakfast For Dinner" (a bowl of Frosted Flakes and milk) is a helluva lot easier than defrosting a chicken and making a salad. "International Night" (microwave nachos, Top Ramen) and "Fruit Buffet" (a bowl of grapes) are other popular themes. Just don't ask what "Mystery Cupboard Scavenger Hunt" is.
Face it, it's just too hard to resist the urge to push the hair out of someone's eyes—even if they're not your kid. It only gets weird if that someone is your waiter or the cashier at Target.
Kids in big families know that Mom has to run through everyone else's name before they get to yours. I'm the youngest of five, and my mom would even shout out the dog's name before she got to mine. To get back at her, I called her "Dad" every chance I got.
It doesn't matter if it's 80 degrees outside, or if you've already got on a jacket, moms will always ask you to put on a sweater. In fact, I'm going to put "Why aren't you wearing a sweater?" on my tombstone, just to freak my kids out when they come visit.
If kids weren't so messy, moms wouldn't have to steal napkins from Starbucks and stash them in the car. But they are, and we do. So if there is ever a worldwide napkin shortage, just ask every mom in the world to open up the glove compartment and the Earth's bounty will be restored.
Need extra clothes? Check with a mom! Even if she's not your mom, chances are she'll have something in that enormous tote of hers that will fit you, even if you are a 6-foot tall man with wide hips.
It's a well-known fact that moms cannot resist the urge to cut up everyone else's food into bite-sized pieces. The next time you're in a restaurant, try this fun experiment: Order a steak, place it on the edge of the table and see how many moms rush to your table with their knives out.
The next time you're having a conversation with a mom, notice how her voice drops whenever she uses a cuss word—even if her kids aren't in the room. Or, worse, she substitutes with corny words like "fudge" and "gosh darn." Unless she's in stuck in traffic, in which case she'll curse like a sailor no matter who's around.
Don't get in the way of a mom and the doubled dollar-off deal on a dozen diapers. If you want to see her cry, tell her her coupons expired last week or that the sale only applies to the brand she doesn't want.
A friend once told me that he was 12 before he tasted what orange juice that hadn't been watered down. He had no idea OJ wasn't just sour orange water! I can relate, because my kids never got a glass of juice that wasn't practically 99 percent water. Related: Did you know you can make a pouch of Capri Sun last for a week?
It's just a reflex to tell everyone within a 100-foot radius to "Be careful." Doesn't matter if it's your toddler in the sandbox or the plumber about to dismantle your bathtub. It makes sense though, since it's a dangerous world out there. Now, go put on a sweater.
Moms are terrified of small things, because kids put them in their mouths and other orifices, and then emergency rooms are in their future. So it's understandable that tiny hazards need to be shuffled out of sight. It's a problem when you can't find the cat, but luckily, moms are really good at finding things, too.
It's a scientific fact that in the history of eating out, there has never been a restaurant table that has been clean enough for a mom. That's why she'll wipe it down before you start eating, even if it's already been "cleaned." Trust me, every mom puts quotes around "cleaned."
If you ever want to cause a stampede, stand in the middle of a crowd and yell, "Mom!" Every mom within a 2-mile radius will come running to push the hair out of your eyes or cut up your food. But admit it, it's kind of nice to know someone cares, isn't it?
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