6 Ways Motherhood Made Me an Urban Survivalist

CityWhen you become a mom, you resign yourself to knowing that, for at least the first few years, you’re going to have to haul around a satchel full of just-in-case items like wipes and bottles, and a small selection of toys to keep baby entertained. You also know you’re signing up to be regularly barfed on, subjecting yourself to having the occasional diaper leak on you, and knowingly accepting that, at some point, you will be a mess in public. (If you happen to be one of those moms who’s always put together and never disheveled, move along. There’s nothing to read here.)

But there’s a perk, besides the actual joy of raising a child and all that good stuff. Mama-hood has honed my street smarts, which in turn come in handy in my mama-hood. That same heap of qualities developed on the frontlines of the mommy experience have made me a more savvy city chick all around. 

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I’m more resourceful. I’m not sure when I became the black female MacGyver, but I realized that I had made the transition when, in the same day, I chipped my pedicure and doctored it with White-Out, I broke an earring and repaired it with a paper clip, and I fixed the hem of my skirt with a staple and a few tape doughnuts. Shuttling between PTA meetings and band recitals and The Girl’s dance rehearsals while attempting to hold together my outfit, my car, and my precious laptop has forced me to be not only a multi-tasker, but a miracle maker with a bobby pin and a stick of Winterfresh.

I’m a master negotiator. Look, if I can reason with a stubborn three-year old to eat steamed broccoli and then turn that into the ability to compromise with a slightly self-absorbed 13-year-old, there’s no reason under the sun why I can’t employ those tactics to talking down the sticker price on a new car or using an expired buy-one, get-one-free coupon at Wal-mart. Tell me ‘no’ and watch me become a let’s-make-a-deal prodigy. Monty Hall would be so proud.

I’m more free-spirited. It’s worth mentioning that I’ve never been a by-the-book person. I’ve always been kind of a neosoul hippie, down to a love of being barefoot. It was a quality I became extremely thankful for as the ebbs and flows of motherhood demanded my flexibility. The more of a rigid, busy-professional-woman-on-the-go schedule I tried to maintain, the more certain The Kid was to being inexplicably fussy or getting a nosebleed or tossing her cookies all over her clean church clothes. You’ve gotta just go with the flow.

I’m smarter. Big hand, little hand, greater than, less than, decimals and fractions: they all stumped me when I was sitting on the other side of the desk. And I thought I had bid them a hearty good riddance — until I became a mom. All of the things I didn’t exactly master in my own secondary school experience, I now get a second chance at thanks to homework and math assignments and (Jesus take the wheel) science fair projects.

I’m a better lie detector. Even before I became a mother, I was pretty good at picking up on the little “tells” that folks subconsciously exhibit when they’re in the midst of a fib. Some stutter, some pick at their face, some play with their hair. Being a mama just made me that much better at reading body language and microexpressions, so Teen Girl rarely slips one past me. I’m not as good as that dude on “Lie to Me,” but I’m better than my child would like for me to be.

I’m more accepting of myself. Maybe I’ve eeked out my biggest a-ha moments from being a single parent and initially running myself ragged trying to excel as not only a mommy but a daddy, as well (like the former isn’t like 100 jobs rolled into one in and of itself). I had two choices: burn myself out being Captain Everything or accept that sometimes I was going to be too tired to make a homecooked meal every night or Girl Child may have to Febreeze her uniform skirt until I get to the laundry. I wanted to be June Cleaver meets Claire Huxtable, but dangit I’m Janelle Harris. Nice to meet ya.

How has motherhood made you better?


Image via ross_hawkes/Flickr

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