Yesterday, while ordering a latte, I both spoke aloud and signed the words "milk," "please" and "thank you," to the barista behind the counter. She was a grown adult who could definitely hear. We've been signing key words with our toddler for a while now and it's pretty reflexive at this point. The barista, for her part, looked at me like I was crazy for a few moments, then nodded slowly, backed away and got me my coffee.
What can I say? Once you become a parent, you're never quite the same. Not the same as your pre-parent self, or as the segment of the population that still sleeps eight hours a night. And sure, most of the changes we undergo have to do with personal growth, never knowing we could love someone so much, et-cetera, et-cetera. But sometimes? Sometimes we're the person walking around with breast milk splotches on our shirts or singing those (insanely catchy) auto-tuned Daniel Tiger songs, on repeat, as we wander through the supermarket. In those moments, sometimes we realize that we're... different. And that's okay. Here are more ways in which real-life moms and dads just aren't like the others:
"I drove to Houston last week by myself, no kids. It was the first time I'd been in the car for more then an hour without a child. I listened to the Que Pastas the whole time without realizing it. The WHOLE three hour drive." —Erin, mom of two, Austin, TX
"When I hear a baby—any baby—crying, my knee just starts bouncing. Bouncing my toddler son Henry on my knee calmed him down when he was a baby, and I must have done it enough that I've turned into Pavlov's dog." —Bjorn, father of two, Menlo Park, CA
"I touch my boobs all the time. It doesn't matter where I am. I'm checking to see how full they are, but I'm sure it just looks like I'm feeling myself up. Oh well!" —Katie, mom of one, Sandy, UT
My husband and I spell words out so our kids won't know what we're talking about. Unfortunately, it's become kind of a habit, and I do it to other people, too.
"I recently referred to my husband as 'Daddy,' in public. So. Embarrassing." —Heather, mom of two, Austin, TX
"That thing where you're running around a restaurant chasing after your kid and you suddenly realize everyone's staring at you... because your boob's hanging out? Yeah, that's been me on more than one occasion." —Sarah, mom of two, Georgetown, ME
"My husband and I spell words out so our kids won't know what we're talking about. Unfortunately, it's become kind of a habit, and I do it to other people, too. Randomly. Without even realizing it. I just see that confused 'Wait, are you... spelling?' look on their faces and realize I am, indeed, spelling instead of just speaking to them." —Cait, mom of three, Missoula, MT
"I sway back and forth if I'm standing still, as though I'm rocking a baby or holding a toddler—still!! My 'babies' are nearly 14 and 17. I think the habit stuck and thankfully, my cats don't seem to mind!" —Pam, mom of two, New Castle, NH