The bond between mother and child — there is, perhaps, no deeper relationship on earth. It’s unconditional love in its purest form.
Whether a child spent nine months growing in our belly or was dreamed about for nine years and came into our waiting arms via adoption, the connection is undeniable when we stare into their newborn eyes or hold them for the first time. And though it may not feel quite so immediate for some mothers, and those feelings will undoubtedly wax and wane through the years (hello, teenagers!), this visceral bond is unlike any other.
I knew, of course, that motherhood would change me in countless ways. But, seven years into this journey, I continue to be surprised by the strength of the bond I feel with my children.
Over the years, there I’ve experienced numerous bizarre moments as a mother; there have been unexpected physical and emotional connections that nobody told me would happen. But as strange as they’ve been, I’m not alone: Other moms, too, have experienced this intense “mother’s intuition,” long after the umbilical cord has been cut.
Following are six examples of parents’ “sixth sense” that I’ve experienced. Do any of these happen to you?
1. Feeling phantom kicks. I don’t know if it’s because my children were delivered via C-section — which basically meant that my insides were ripped out and laid on a table — but I felt phantom kicks with both children for about the first two months postpartum. Sure, science may say it was my organs settling back into their designated places, but they felt like kicks, and it was freaking weird. The “kicks” mostly happened at night, when I was trying to catch an hour or two of sleep before the next feeding. The first time it happened I ran my hands over my belly as I’d done when I was pregnant, worried that something was amiss.
2. Hearing imaginary cries. I was on a work trip to Kansas City; my 4-month old baby was home with my husband. And yet, I found myself waking several times at night in my hotel room to what sounded like my son’s “FEED ME NOW!” cries. Each time I woke disoriented and blurry-eyed, looking for the baby monitor that wasn’t in my hotel room. Sure enough, when my husband and I spoke the next morning, he reported an especially difficult night. I secretly loved that, even far away, my son and I were connected. (And today, at 4 years old, he is still very much a mama’s boy.)
3. Waking up before just before your baby wails. Those early weeks of parenthood often feel like a giant blur, but I do remember many nights waking up only seconds before my daughter or son began crying, either to eat or get changed. Some of that may be related to the changing rhythms of a mother’s body’s — having to wake frequently to feed on demand — or just the overall sleep deprivation that causes restless rest. Whatever it is, though, it is a bizarre sensation when you wake with a start — and then hear your baby cry or your toddler whimper. When my son was potty-training, I’d sometimes wake in the middle of the night just moments before he’d yell for me, asking for help using the potty. Yes, it was weird, but it was also really cool.
4. Sensing your kid’s presence at the edge of your bed. This may be the freakiest of them all. You’re totally asleep but somehow you feel eyes on you. Sure enough, your kid is standing at the foot of your bed, ready to ask for water or a different lovey or why pigs play in the mud. No matter how many times it’s happened to me, I still get wigged out — and, in fact, it just happened last night. I was tossing and turning, something I typically do the morning before an early run (I get anxious because I worry about oversleeping). Apparently, my 4-year-old son needed me, because I opened my eyes and there he was, blond hair ruffled and big brown eyes pleading for help because it was “too dark” for him to go the bathroom alone. I glanced at my clock; it was 4:24 a.m., exactly one minute before my alarm was set in order for me to join my 5 a.m. running group.
5. Having your phone on hand when daycare or the school nurse calls. How many times do you run into a meeting at work and realize you left your phone at your desk, only to race back and get it “just in case?” Sure enough, that’s when the dreaded “Your kid threw up, please come and get him” call comes. Yes, your kid was totally smiling and healthy this morning, but now, at 1:53 p.m., he is suddenly is spiking a 102 degree fever. But that’s OK. Grab your stuff and go; your mom intuition knew this was coming.
6. Reading their emotions before they express to you what’s wrong. Sometimes you just know there’s something amiss with your kiddo, without them ever saying a word. Maybe it’s the way they hugged you when you picked them up at school, or the way their eyes looked past you when you asked about their day at dinner. A mom’s intuition — especially a Jewish mom’s intuition — is a force to be reckoned with; we don’t even need to be in the same room to know something feels off. And though we may not be able to fix the problem at hand — and sometimes we shouldn’t — our kids need to know we love them unconditionally, and that we will support them on their good days and their bad days.
What other “sixth-sense” moments have you experienced with your own children?