My mum and I are so different in many ways but she still knows me better than most. As a kid, I took it for granted. And as a teenager, I fought it. And now as a mum myself, I can finally truly appreciate it.
I look at my four-year-old son and there is no one I understand better because there is no one I care more about. From the moment you bring them into this world, it your business to know this little person, to learn their cues and understand what makes them tick, even if for no other reason than for your own sanity.
It is therefore understandable that quite often you know what they’re thinking, feeling and even plotting before anyone else – including themselves. Here’s just some of the times mum’s intuition really reigns supreme.
1. When they’re lying
Mums have an uncanny ability to get to the truth of the matter. The younger they are, the easier it is to know when a child is lying. If they are covered in paint but blaming their doll for the pink and blue stripes on the dog, it isn’t hard to work out. But some kids quickly become very convincing and they’re not afraid to test you.
Unlucky for them, it is near impossible to beat a mum’s lie detection skills. We’ve all tried it. I always wondered how my mum did it, now I know. It can take just an expression, a flicker of the eyes or a change in tone for me to see straight through the porky pie my son is trying to tell me.
2. When they are really hurting
From the physical to emotional, mums just know when everything is not okay and a hug is needed. They’ve mastered every mood, noted every nuance and examined every expression. They’re quite often the ones that will ask, ‘what’s wrong?’ and will not be satisfied by your ‘nothing’ in reply – queue the hug that will open the flood gates. My son is loud, affectionate, easily excited but also super sensitive. When he withdraws himself from a situation, I know there is more to it than meets the eye.
3. When they’re just putting on the waterworks
Mums will not be fooled by crocodile tears. Crying on cue might be a useful talent to have in various life situations but trying to pull a sympathy-gathering swifty over mum rarely ever works.
4. When they’re not listening
Repetition may be the key to a child’s learning but mums will not be ignored. Children are great at zoning out but are naive if they think mum doesn’t know and won’t eventually call them on it.
My son’s attempts to block out my instructions are far from subtle at this stage. His focus often slides to the television, his toys and even the dog’s activities outside.
5. When they need to poop
Monitoring baby’s bowel movements is part of the indoctrination into motherhood. Mums become so good at knowing the signs their little one needs to poop even before the strained look of concentration takes over their face.
6. When they’re up to mischief
Mums are mind readers. We all know silence is suspicious when you have a little one, well we mums know trouble is brewing long before children even know what they are plotting. I always wondered how my mum knew my mischievous plans before I’d even made a move. It really is all due to mum intuition.
As mums we often look for possible dangers when we walk into a room, and sniffing out our child’s devious plans works much the same way. I see my son pat the dog. I see him look at a tin of paint left on the back patio. He stands and I yell out, ‘Don’t even think about painting the dog’. He sits quickly and looks at me shocked, ‘Okay, Mummy’.
7. When they’re tired
Mums know sleep is often the answer, probably because it becomes so rare and valuable to them.
Just think of the times you have heard your defiant toddler scream, ‘I not tired!’ only to have them fall sound asleep minutes later. When they start acting out of character, when their usual tolerance is gone and tantrums come all too easily, we know they need to head to bed … for their benefit and ours!