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On patience

My literary models for motherhood are these insanely patient women. For example, the mothers in Louisa May Alcott’s books, or Ma from the Little House books… I mean, sure, there are hints that these women are just repressing their fury, but still, they are unfailingly gentle, whatever’s going on under the surface, no matter how short the family is on food. And okay, maybe the standards of child behavior were different–Laura notes in one of the early books that children are to be seen and not heard, which had to help a HELL of a lot.

I have yet to even begin thinking about discipline or whatever you want to call it. I know (okay, I’m pretty sure) I don’t want to be that woman from my former baby group who always spoke to her kids in a saccharine, perfectly sereeeeeeeeene tone and who offered lots of opportunity for discussion of every decision, nor do I want to be the woman who roughly jerked her kid around and was always complaining about the kid’s actions.

But while I don’t ever, ever want to be mean, I must now accept that I’ll never be Ma. Certain things just kill my patience dead (like high pitched whining), and I know I have barely begun to taste the joys of irritating child behavior.

Thankfully, I have the Ma Phones.

The Ma Phones

The Ma Phones are industrial hearing-protecting headphones. My father gave them to me about six years ago, well before I’d begun trying to have a child. He was fond of giving me crap like this, assuming it would come in handy someday. Or maybe he had Mr. Bunny’s snoring in mind? Anyway, they lived in the basement until Bun Bun started having UFOs, or Unexplained Freak Outs. During a UFO she’ll scream for ten minutes or so, even when I put her in the carrier. After a few of these, I pulled out the headphones and made an amazing discovery. They don’t prevent me from hearing her, oh NO. They take the edge off. They’re like a glass of scotch. They extend my ability to do whatever she needs me to do, by, like, forever. I go from gritted teeth to Ma-like gentleness and kindness. AND, they have a second remarkable property. Bun Bun adores them. She finds them very comical. Shortly after I put them on, she’s smiling and touching them. And if not, well, they still take the edge off.

You might think I am kidding about wearing these headphones. I am not. You might think there is something somehow cruel or disrespectful or not self-flagellating enough (because how can you be a good parent if you’re not suffering) about wearing them, and if so, all I can say is…try them. Try the Ma Phones.

And if you’ve not yet hit the baby jackpot, when you do, let these be the very first thing you order. The crib can wait.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. ASP #

    This post cracked my shit up. The Ma Headphones are priceless. We’re going through the whole figuring out the discipline thing with O right now too. She definitely understands the word, “no” and sometimes cares when I say it, and other times, well, she could give a crap less and flips me the middle finger. I’ve been practicing my teacher eyes on her and those work sometimes…keyword, again, sometimes. I guess as she gets older, I’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’m definitely not one of those moms with the perfectly serene voice trying to discuss stuff and reason with a 14 month old. I guess whatever works for different folks but it’s definitely not my style either. Either way, I think I need to get on those headphones. I bet they do make you like ridiculous cruisin’ around the house in them. At least Bun Bun has a sense of humor about them. You should wear them to pick her up in school when she’s eventually there. I totally would. To be honest though, I’d probably wear them more around my husband than Olivia. 😉

    February 29, 2012
  2. Jen #

    Once again. You will be filthy rich once you patent Ma Phones(TM) and Food Hat(TM). It would also prove my friend’s theory correct, probably, that you can take any ordinary household item and put a picture of a baby on it and add the word “Baby” to its name, and POOF you can double the price and sell it to parents like hotcakes. BABY tissues. BABY nail file. BABY lip balm. Und so weiter. Go on with your enterprising bad self.

    February 29, 2012
  3. MUST HAVE, she says deliriously, having been up since 3am because Somebody has decided that sleeping through the night is simply not for His High Holiness.

    I can’t figure it out, and am coming to the conclusion that perhaps instead of trying to calm Him, I should just calm myself. At least one of us should be getting some sleep, yes?

    February 29, 2012
  4. Ana #

    Love! Patience and good humor are also part of my literary models for motherhood…Anne Blythe never freaked out and yelled at her 2-year-old to “just USE YOUR WORDS and STOP SCREAMING”, did she? Maybe I will try the headphones. I have some like that, too, and haven’t figured out a purpose for them in my current life.

    February 29, 2012
    • Ooo, I forgot about Anne! (A rare case with a tragic entry to parenthood, too!)

      February 29, 2012
  5. My husband has a pair of those. No joke.

    February 29, 2012
  6. Louisa #

    Yes absolutely! I got the husband them fancy “noise canceling” headphones for whatever (proably blocking me out) and I use them when J is freaking out after the usual stuff doesn’t work. They are AWESOME he’s still crying but its further away. Like scotch or Valium. Ahhhhh….

    February 29, 2012
  7. SRB #

    Heh. I may have to also steal the term “UFO” which is more succinct than my “freaking the fuck out for no reason whatsoever” descriptor.

    February 29, 2012
  8. I tell myself that mothers with ‘patience’ are either parenting dolls or they lack warm blood in their veins. It makes me feel better. Especially when I try to persuade George that no, the tuner is not there for him to climb on so that he can reach the wall mounted tv easier, neither is using the dvd flap as a step towards the same goal (and pressing the dvd open/close button three hundred times a minute is not making mummy any happier or calmer). And when he simply tunes me out and carries on, and I have to take him away and starts screaming and writhing in my arms and I have to put him on the floor because I just can’t hold him anymore or stand the freaking kicking, that is when I would very much like a mother with patience take over and show me how to do it better.

    That said, I’m off to get some of them Ma Phones. They are brilliant.

    Ha, just though of this, and I am so short of giggles lately, please humour me. – So, Bunny, you’re using protection, huh?! A bit late, innit? :-))) Ok, I’m done now.

    February 29, 2012
    • aaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha! Good one. I’m telling my husband that one!

      February 29, 2012
  9. lordy, i need those. also some useful role models.

    the bean has officially entered the Age of Testing. i am bound and determined not to be that mother who never says no — or the one i think is even worse, the mother who says no and doesn’t mean it — and really, there’s no “yes” option for a lot of the things he wants to do, but…i just could really use those headphones.

    i thought about getting out my ear plugs the other day, but when i tried them in the early days (yeah, i really don’t tolerate screaming well, even when it’s not meant to push my buttons), they were utterly not worth the effort. and i felt like kind of a jerk, to boot.

    February 29, 2012
  10. I am clueless when it comes to discipline. I justify this with the notion that infants are too young to discipline (they must be taught) and toddlers’ lack of sufficient fore brain activity renders any “technique” to be pretty much useless. So in my book, discipline becomes relevant at some tbd point down the road. That does not mean that I don’t loose ye ol’ shit periodically because Ma I am not!

    The Ma headphones are absolute genius. If you had marketed them to me about a year-ish ago, when g was in the piercing scream phase, I would have shelled out any amount. G also has a similar pair at my MIL’s. Many years ago he introduced me to them in the middle of a summer night in Rome as an anti-mosquito measure.

    February 29, 2012
  11. This made me cackle like Lisa Simpson. Heh, heh, heh.

    March 1, 2012
  12. It warms my heart to think that your dad ‘has you covered’, even posthumously. What a brilliant invention, Bunny. Are you sure your professor gig is really what you want, because you could market those puppies for a premium to new parents everywhere across the first world. Think about it $$$
    I’m curious to see what kind of memories Bun Bun will have of her Ma Phones -wearing mama (because surely you will continue to wear them to deal with high-pitched squeals from Bunlet, long after miss Bun Bun has given up on that sort of lowly behaviour). I can just see her bringing the Ma Phones for show and tell in kindergarten, explaining to a bunch of preschoolers and one puzzled classroom teacher that her mom wears these when she hears babies cry.

    March 1, 2012
  13. You are seriously funny. I have a set that I use to cut the grass in with an fm tuner inside. It has an antenna sticking up from on of the phones. I may try this for some fun myself.

    March 5, 2012
  14. So I have earphones for shooting, unfortunately they are electronic ear pro instead of just the standard kind. Meaning they block out loud gun shots, but allow you to hear talking. Pretty schweet actually. I haven’t tried them during a scream-fest, as they don’t occur that often….and now that I wrote that I am certainly in trouble…but I worry they will not work to filter out the sound. I am a heavy supporter of the ma phones though. Go you! Get a glass of scotch while you are at it….shit forgot you were baby hoarding right now. Nevermind. I guess in lieu of a glass of scotch they will do.

    March 7, 2012
  15. Misfit Mrs. #

    Ma phones. I will put that on my registry today. I worry very much about having zero tolerance of the high octive reach of little ones. This gives me a small amount of hope. I also like that they are from your dad,like a sweet bit of a grandpa advice you just remembered.

    March 17, 2012

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