The Sounds of Motherhood
Over and above the amazing skill of herding cats and the almost super-human ability to do really anything with one hand, also comes the peculiar and surprising ability to produce an array of noises, the range of which is so rich and varied, that it will leave you in awe of yourself. I’m sure this is a beneficial skill, one that may prove useful one day when, for example, aliens invade the earth. For now it is mostly just noise.
There comes to mind the ‘swoooosh’ sound that must of course always accompany exploding knuckles. And everyone knows that exploding knuckles come right after every high five (‘clap’ – I sometimes say clap out loud to my embarrassment). There are the low guttural sounds a parent makes when walking away as described in my previous post and there are the deep, deep sighs. The type of sigh that I imagine Hitler would have made when he learned that he was losing the war, or that our president Zuma perhaps made when he opened the Sunday papers this morning. Then there is of course the screaming that goes with delivering a baby the natural way, screaming that would bring images of something being dismembered to the listener’s mind.
When you apply the proper self-control and on occasion actually don’t swear in front of your child, you may switch to a mix of our beautiful African languages. I never, ever though I would ever use the word ‘Haibo’ but I use it approximately ten times a day. Same goes for ‘Eish’. And when you scream ‘Woza’ loud enough children (and dogs) actually do come running.
There is of course also ‘code speak’. And no, with this I don’t mean Afrikaans (although my husband and I do on occasion use it to communicate secret things in front of the children). An example of code speak would be where I lie next to Kai in bed (remember we don’t judge here) and he tells me to ‘close it’. Translated this means that I must put my arm around him. I love that. We have also resorted to referring to the blankie and the dummy as ‘the white thing’ and ‘the blue thing’. As in “Haibo!! (in my head I say fok tog), where is that white thing?” Or “Eish, if I don’t find the blue thing now I might throw myself from the balcony”. I threaten to jump from our balcony about three times a day.
There are midnight growls between you and your partner when a baby wakes up. A good friend told me once that anything said between 9 and 3pm does not count. I like that too. And there is the panicked scream when a child is about to stick a fork into a toaster. Don’t forget the animal sounds, every parent will make animal sounds at some point, it would be unnatural not to. In our house the sounds of motherhood also include those made in desperation by visitors trying to open the lock on the toilet, and soft whines – from Beast when a child is pulling at his leg repeatedly, or from my husband as my daughter plays with his ample chest hair.
There are sounds we make when trying to feed our children – ‘aaah’ and ‘yum yum’ and ‘please, please, please take a bite’ in your pleading voice. But best of all are the happy sounds; the type of laughter that almost paralyses you with joy. The happy huffs and puffs when jumping on the trampoline. ‘I love you’s’ and the smacking sound of kisses. “Tickle, tickle, tickle” in a whisper voice and “Im going to caaaatch yooouuuuu” in a Gruffalo voice.
Skills I tell you.