Mother Hen Dearest

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings

Sure, I may look sweet and smiley on the outside, but under this 5-foot, 1-inch frilly, girly mom is the mother of all mother hens. I think all moms would have my back when I say that if my kid is in danger for a nanosecond, any offender will receive “the look.” I’ve always heard about mothers’ instincts, but obviously never fully comprehended what that feels like or where it comes from. I never understood how a baby would fly out of my body, and I would suddenly adopt a new set of Spidey senses over my daughter, but joke’s on me! Not only did I adopt these senses, they are constantly in the “on” position and ready to take action should my mother hen feathers be ruffled.

I’m not really referring to benign or accidental situations such as a sneeze that crosses my baby’s path (though, ya know, ew) or a mix-up of calling my daughter a boy (although that’s never happened. Have you seen how much pink she wears?). But I can come up with two situations in the past few days where my talons were on the ready.

Currently, I do not own a “Baby on Board” sign on my car, but even if I did, I don’t think it would change the ways of a-hole drivers. A-hole drivers are a-hole drivers. They are such a-holes, in fact, that they might blatantly mess with me if they see a BoB sign. However, what I would like to do is smother my car with bubble wrap. Look, car accidents suck. I’ve been in a couple (only one was my fault and it was a tap! I swear! And I was, like, 18). A car accident involving just silly old me is annoying and scary, but manageable. However, the idea of someone swerving into me or coming too fast behind me while my baby sleeps in the backseat of my car makes me so anxious and angry all at the same time. People of the world, look over your shoulder! Check to be sure the lanes are clear before making your left turn head-to-head with me! And for whatever-you-believe-in’s sake, stop texting while you’re driving. You want to mess up your life? Lame. You want to put my baby in danger? Oh, it’s on!  Madelyn has only been in the world for three months, and people have done stupid things in their dangerous machines on the road several times in our vicinity. We’ve nearly missed a handful of accidents and each time, the words that come out of my mouth are rancid and my heart beats so strongly, I swear I can hear it in my head. Whereas before, I would have been really annoyed, now I am literally scared for my daughter’s life. To protect her, I notice that I now drive much more defensively and follow the rules precisely. I wasn’t exactly a daredevil before, but now I am definitely a Pollyanna of the road.

Just the other day, some girl who was, surprise!, texting while driving, was about to be forced to make a left turn when she wanted to go straight. And by straight, I mean straight right into my lane next to her! She didn’t even look (I’m sure flirting with whoever she was texting right that very second was definitely more important and imminent), and before I knew it, the right side of her car was almost in my own lap. The sharp look I gave her while I slammed on my brakes and pounded my horn could have popped her tires, and she looked at me as if to say, “Oh, oopsie!” but my unforgiving mother hen instincts blurted out something along the lines of, “I have a farkaktah baby in my farkaktah car you mother-farkaktah [insert derogatory noun here]!” Oh, and replace farkaktah with another word that starts with the same letter. The unfortunate part is that between my horn, her tire screech, and the walls of our cars, she had no idea what I said or that a baby’s life was at stake.

I can drive defensively and do my best to protect my baby on the roads, but there’s another killer that enrages me even more (yes, it’s possible). This killer smells of cancer and I can only shelter Madelyn from it in most indoor places. However, a step outside and we’re at risk. As a kid, I was irritated and now as a mother, I am infuriated. Smokers, beware: I don’t care who you are, my loved ones and I are entitled to breathe clean, refreshing, and healthy air. Madelyn’s lungs are pure and perfect. Her nose has only smelled sweet things (well, except for those diapers. Whew!). Her throat has never burned or felt fiery. And as long as I bring her up correctly, she will never touch a cigarette (her parents never have). So it is beyond unfair when I have to walk through a mall parking lot to get to my car and along the path, get swarmed in a cloud of cancer smoke by inconsiderate smokers. I guess that’ll teach me to go to the mall and spend money, but just today, walking out of Neiman-Marcus (no, I wasn’t shopping there. It was the best parking side of the mall!), three women who had ladles of makeup on their faces and whose perfume was almost as offensively cancerous as their cigarette cloud just watched me push my baby in her stroller and continued puffing away, with no regard to the fact that an infant would be in their proximity. Don’t get me wrong; I walked at an arch, clearly out of my way to avoid them as best as I could, but cigarette smells go far, and short of going back inside the mall, there was no escaping this cruelty.

It’s no mystery today that smoking is dangerous. There’s no one under the age of 50 who can claim with big puppy dog eyes that they didn’t know cigarettes are death sentences. These women appeared to be under 35 and had no regard whatsoever that their choice was affecting the air that my baby and I breathe. If they have chosen to harm their own bodies, that is their own prerogative and future hospital bill. But to affect the air that enters my body and my daughter’s body is careless, rude, and insulting. The icy stare I gave these women as I quickly trotted by them could have put out the fire in their cigarettes, but they were too busy cackling and inhaling to notice.

Recently, I was at an outdoor restaurant and someone nearby was smoking. The smoke was hopscotching over to my table where Madelyn was calmly asleep in her stroller, and not only was the sharp cigarette smell ruining my appetite (and my meal was soooo good), but it was obviously infiltrating our air. I decided to take matters into my own hands and asked the man with the cigarette to move away from the restaurant and pollute the air that no one else was breathing. He was shocked that I asked him, but he also didn’t argue. Yes, I grew major balls and probably appeared to be too aggressive, but the days of making nice-nice are over. Before becoming a mother, I was annoyed with smokers and angrily put up with their selfish choice to smoke in public. But now that I have a child, my humility has disappeared and I will not hold back protecting her at any cost, even if I look like a crazy. Why? Because I am crazy. About Madelyn.

So, cluck-cluck, peep-peep, yes I am a mother hen. My little chickadee, like all little chickadees, deserves a long and healthy life, and I will not tolerate anyone or anything who compromises that. This life-long, chronic people pleaser has a new priority. Being likable and everyone’s favorite is no longer at the top of my list. Being the best mother I can be to Madelyn is number one and it’s the best job I’ve ever had.