When you have a baby, to say “your world changes” would be completely understating it. That’s like saying Beyoncé “sings songs;” it’s accurate, but doesn’t come close to describing how fiercely and all-encompassing she changed our world. What I’m saying is: if you don’t have kids, think about the fact that we used to be able to attend weddings without hearing “All the Single Ladies.” In the same way Beyoncé hijacked our public consciousness, babies hijack your life.
When you look around our house, the signs of our infant hijack are obvious. Our daughter is too young to play with toys, but that didn’t stop us from filling our house with baby equipment. We have seven devices to help her lie down. Play mats, bouncy seats, swings, blankets, bassinet, and crib – my daughter does the same thing in all of them: nothing.
Aside from your environment, there’s another huge change that happens when you have a baby. The woman you married has transformed from a wife to a mother. If you’re not sure whether your wife has also flipped the switch into “Mom mode,” here are some common symptoms.
6. She can do the impossible with just one hand
They say Millennials can multitask, but when God handed out that gift, he missed me. I’m very singularly focused on one task at a time. My wife, however, is the exact opposite. She excels at multitasking – think of that sushi-making octopus in Monsters, Inc. and you’ll have the right mental picture. She can watch TV, read a book, fold laundry, write thank-you cards, apply for flight school, make her own soap and criticize the way I’m dressed all at the same time. It’s remarkable.
Since having a child, this multitasking ability has grown exponentially. On top everything she used to do, now she can do it with one hand. While holding the baby, she can reach out with her free hand to assemble a bottle. Or she can open jars. Or feed the cat. I swear, once I saw her reupholster a chair while rocking the baby to sleep.
5. Nipples are much more visible
Nipples are a much larger part of new parenthood than I expected. In that first week, you and your spouse say the word “nipple” hundreds of times. I learned about the term “nipple confusion” – which unfortunately isn’t at all what I thought it was. We attended counseling for proper nipple usage – we’re probably only a session away from having a concealed-nipple license. Bottles have nipples. Pacifiers are shaped like nipples. Strangers have poked and prodded my wife’s nipples in front of me. When getting our baby to latch, I was actually in there with both hands to help my wife’s nipple point the right way into my daughter’s mouth. Those nipples are professionals now, working a full-time job, plus overtime on a shift schedule.
For years, there was an allure of the hidden nipple. All my life, this allure obfuscated the real reason they exist: to feed babies. I had no idea how often babies eat in a day. You can set your watch to it. If our oven timer breaks, we can bake potatoes by simply throwing them in the oven when she’s done nursing and taking them out when she’s hungry again. With that frequency, it really doesn’t make sense to cover up completely between sessions, especially around the house. For that reason, nipples are almost always within view somewhere, granting the wish I made when I was 13. Back then, I had no idea what I was in for.
4. She speaks in the third person almost exclusively
Imagine I came home and announced, “Brandon’s home!” My wife runs out to greet me and says, “Oh, hi, Brandon! Sonja was just wondering when you’d get here!” This is exactly the way we talk to each other now, just replace “Brandon” and “Sonja” with “Daddy” and “Mommy.” Speaking in the third person is the official language of the Daniels household.
Beyond that, you know your wife is in full-on mom mode when she starts talking to you through the baby. It sounds like this: She’ll be playing with the baby, then say to her in baby talk, “Oh, silly Daddy. He left his cup on the table. He should go put it away, shouldn’t he?” The crazy thing is that now I do it too. I’ll respond back – again, to the baby, “Tell Mommy I’m not done with it yet.” Why do we do this? Because we’re parents, and we know no other way.
3. If she can leave the house in one trip, she’s forgotten something
When we wanted to go somewhere, we used to just walk out the door together, get in the car and go. Now, it takes at least three trips for my wife to gather her supplies. We do have a diaper bag, but it doesn’t come close to carrying all we need. When we walk out of the house now, I have the baby in the carrier, and my wife has her purse and diaper bag. We settle in the car. I turn it on. Then my wife runs back inside.
She comes back out with a blanket, spare outfits and a stack of diapers. A mom can never have too many diapers on hand. She’ll get back in the car, settle everything down. Then she jumps out and goes back inside.
This time, she’ll return with the stuff we actually needed for our destination. Grocery lists, Bibles for church, borrowed Tupperware, anything in that category. It’s not uncommon to leave the house with everything except the item warranting the trip in the first place.
2. She provides a new soundtrack to your favorite movies and TV shows
My wife and I have very different tastes in movies and TV shows. I love action, gore and stupid comedies. She likes shows that feature women in bonnets and/or aprons. On the rare occasion we found something we both liked, it was worth celebrating. We’d make popcorn, dim the lights, put our phones on “Do Not Disturb” and settle in for two or three episodes. These TV-binge nights were quiet and awesome.
Now that my wife has transformed into a mom, our favorite shows have a much different soundtrack. I’ll repeatedly hear, “Oh my goodness,” and “I didn’t realize there was so much language in this show,” and “Should we be watching this?” And of course, I can’t forget, “Brandon, pay attention, she’s looking at the screen.” We read that TV can be damaging for babies, so if my daughter happens to glance at the bright lights from the TV, my job is to physically turn her head away from it.
I hope I don’t have to do that forever. It might make her first date pretty awkward if I have to sit behind her at the theater to keep forcing her head to the side. Though now that I think about it, my hands wrapped around her face would prevent that greasy teenage boy from putting any moves on her.
1. Her capacity to love has quadrupled
When you’re married without children, you get a real sense at how much love a person is capable of giving. If you’re doing marriage right, your heart is dedicated to your spouse. When we found out she was pregnant, on some level, I think we both worried that having a child would divide our hearts, leaving less for each other. Is it possible to love two things at once?
Now that my wife is a mom, I can honestly say, absolutely, it is. I’m in awe of how much love and devotion she’s poured into our small family. When our daughter was born, my wife’s heart grew four times its size to love at a level I didn’t know was possible. Now more than ever, I’m aware that love is not a feeling, but an action. My wife has sacrificed much of herself to be an amazing mom, better each and every day. If you’re looking for the perfect example of love, look no further.