The indelible marks of motherhood

Allison Tait blog
Posted on October 24, 2011

Today I realised, once again, that motherhood has left an indelible mark on me. I was walking down a flight of stairs. Counting each step out loud. And I was alone.

Alone in the sense of ‘no child with me’. Not alone in the sense of ‘no audience at all for my odd behaviour’. Indeed, the older woman coming up said flight of stairs looked intensely amused by the whole event.

She smiled and nodded. She understood. She was probably counting the stairs herself as she went up. But she’s had enough time to learn to do it in her head again.

Counting out loud – everything from stairs to mushrooms as you bag them at the supermarket – is one of the indelible marks of motherhood.

As is pointing out diggers on the side of the road, even when you’re in the company of adult friends who, really, could not care less.

Going to the toilet with the door left slightly ajar ‘just in case’ is one that I’m hoping I’ll grow out of very soon (as, no doubt, is the rest of the household).

Carrying a water bottle everywhere. Keeping an emergency muesli bar in my bag. Keeping an emergency fire engine in my bag (never know when you’ll need one of those).

Never leaving a building without asking everyone in the vicinity (stranger or no) if they need to wee before we go.

An underlying sense of anxiety that never quite bubbles over and never quite disappears.

These are but some of the marks that motherhood has left on me. What have you got?


  1. Christina

    Saying ‘ta’ when you want an adult to hand something to you… 🙂

  2. Sela Toki

    Just read this post and it warms the heart. My 15 year old son has to duck every time I aim to kiss him when I drop him off at school. “MOOOMMMM!” That means “I’m too old to be kissed by my mom already”. So funny. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  3. Belinda - Nest Design Studio

    I quite annoyingly sing the wiggles….even when the boys aren’t in the car with me.

  4. LBDDiaries

    This made me smile – I was glad when I could quit carrying bananas and Cheerios in baggies in my purse.

  5. katepickle

    I rock… I rock shopping trolleys, or I just rock as I stand there, with my imaginary baby in my arms. In fact I am pretty sure I rocked at the PBevent last week which is a tad embarrassing but it was the first time I’d been out without a child since our smallest was born, so I guess it’s to be expected! LOL

  6. MultipleMum

    I missed this how? Such a ripper post. I rock. I wake 4 hourly. I combust at 7pm. I announce my toileting behaviour. I point out rollers and trucks. I sing the Wiggles. We will never be the same will we? x

  7. MummyK

    Wipes never leave my bag and nappy trash bag too, even when I’m on my own. Quite handy tools to have though!

  8. Rhonda

    I am a rocker! It is more of a nervous habit although I’m so happy I can blame it on motherhood. I have done it even before my son was born. I still count everything, and asking if everyone has to go potty is a must! I have weird things in my purse like golf balls and emergency “snacks”.

  9. River

    I don’t do the swaying/rocking thing, but I do pat and rub the back of any teddy bear that is sitting on my lap.
    Also, my “baby” is 30 now, yet I still carry bandaids and safety pins everywhere.

  10. Jocelyn

    I find myself calling my husband “Buddy.” As in, “Hey, Buddy, let’s not throw a ball in the house; you could break something.” …except with my husband, it’s more “Thanks for making such an awesome lentil soup for dinner, Buddy.”

  11. ally

    Fantastic post – glad I’ve found you.
    I have a stationery set in the car at all times (pens, pencils, stickers)
    I eat leftovers from all sorts of peoples plates.
    I sway (a lot)
    I wait for the green man
    I point out taxis and buses and planes and diggers
    I am a lost cause.

  12. Cath

    I’ve just had a lovely chuckle. I’m looking forward to not carrying a pack of coloured pencils in my bag (or to using them myself), and I am an absolute sucker for just about any earth moving machine that I go past – even when the Munchkin’s nowhere to be seen. I never knew there were so many kinds!

  13. Leisa

    I find that I pick up a packet of flour or something with a little bit of weight like that and if I hold it too long I start patting it and rocking back and forth. My youngest child is 15!

  14. edenland

    Great post – I’m a rocker too! Have been known to soothe my groceries in the trolley, gently back and forth.

  15. Jodi @ The Scribble Den

    I do the ‘swaying’ whilst holding anything too. Oh so funny!

    And the weeing with the toilet door open.

    And I always seem to think I am forgetting a child, even when they aren’t with me!

  16. mel @ loved

    This really made me chuckle! I always carry wipes in my bag, count most things I do, (though I’m not sure if that’s all the crocheting or the littlest guy’s endless need to count everything that has rubbed off on me) and the slow swaying from side to side with a basket of groceries at the supermarket as though I’m trying to soothe a restless baby!

  17. alison@thisbloominglife

    I just can’t help myself. I know it’s forming bad habits – as we head out the door the words are out of my mouth “Have you been to the toilet? Go now so you don’t need to go while we are out”. Oops, sorry kids. Don’t sue me when you develop bladder problems.

  18. Crash Test Mummy

    I ‘rock’ or just sway when I feel anxious about the kids.

  19. Erin

    When trying to have a ‘private’ conversation with husband I spell out words. “Shall we get an I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M” only trouble is the children grew and can spell now too. The think it hilarious, “Muum, we can spell you know” Ooops.

  20. Kristy

    Oh, how funny. If I’m waiting on the phone, I tend to rock back and forth in that comforting I’m-holding-an-infant type way.

  21. Mum on the Run

    Holy cow – we’ve been branded with the exact same iron.
    Right down to the fire engine in the bag.
    I also push down the car window for the sound effects as a train passes on the freeway – regardless of who is in the car (or not in the car).

  22. Mama of 2 boys

    Oh yes, I count too Allison… and always have the emergency ‘everything’ in my bag, though my boys are still very young, so that isn’t so odd.
    Probably the one thing that stands out for me, is rocking back and forth while waiting in line, as if to soothe a babe to sleep. I’ve also caught myself gently pushing the shopping trolley back and forth while waiting in line at the supermarket.
    Oh and I always point out diggers and fire engines, whether the boys are with me or not. A great post xo

  23. Amanda

    It just started raining here in Perth and I am singing “It’s raining, it’s pouring” in my head even though the small boy has long since gone to bed. I would love to have a non-nursery-rhyme stuck in my head any time soon, please.

  24. InkPaperPen

    The contents of my handbag have changed dramatically. I went out with a group of old girlfriends recently. We were in a trendy wine bar, full of good looking fashionable people. I dropped my handbag while waiting for my drink at the bar. Out spilled hundreds of colored pop sticks, a matchbox car and a wee T-Rex.

    And I seem to have developed a compulsion for talking to strangers

  25. Mrs Catch

    Rocking the trolley, checking in the rear vision mirror that everyone has their seat belts on, carrying spare hats and a gazillion entertainments in my handbag. It’s quite interesting when I have to empty it on occasion.

  26. traceyb65

    dare I say it? that my nipples still prickle when I hear a newborn cry … or that I turn when I hear a child call Muuuum! even tho mine are nowhere nearby? *sigh*. xt

  27. Jo

    Chatting away with the hip rock side sway. Everyone’s just used to it now.

    Pacing the floor on the phone strategically searching out quiet nooks (even in the park – alone!)

    And yes, the rumbling sense of anticipation that ‘something’ is about to happen.

  28. Jo @Countrylifeexperiment

    Whenever I hear a baby cry I start rocking back and forward. If I am pushing shopping trolley I rock it.
    Both my husband and I point out dogs when driving the car even when there are no kids in the car.

  29. dianneblacklock

    My son was about 23 when he got back from living and travelling overseas for a year. We were up at the local shops and we went to cross the road, and yes, you guessed it, my hand automatically went out to take hold of his arm. He took hold of mine instead and gave it an affectionate rub. ‘Mum,’ he said kindly, ‘I’ve had to cross a lot of roads while I’ve been away, and I’ve done okay. But it’s nice that you still feel responsible for me.’

    Does it ever stop?

  30. jomc

    A kiss and a cuddle every night before bed and the inevitable unfurling of the days woes just before you are about to flick the light switch. Classic

  31. Karina

    I carry a small container of crackers and nuts with me everywhere. Every bag I own has a spare pair of tiny undies in it and some textas and scrap paper. I don’t wear rings anymore because I wash my hands a billion times a day. I announce my ‘wee feelings’ loudly in public in the hope that my nearly three year old will feel inclined to follow me to the toilet. And yes I spot diggers and rock. I also dance in the street. And have conversations with strangers that my child has already made friends and shared food with. I walk more slowly. I see and hear and touch more than I ever have before.

  32. allison tait

    Oh @SarahMac I could have written those two items. I am the one standing there, on the empty street, waiting for the green man. And how could I forget the ‘rock’…

  33. therhythmmethod

    I rock in front of the microwave, even if it’s just leftovers I’m warming.
    One of your best.

  34. Sarah Mac

    I rock to and fro when I’m standing still even though my youngest ‘baby’ is now 12.

    I also want to hold peoples hands (sometimes random strangers) to cross the road and I ALWAYS wait for the green man at the crossing even if there’s no traffic at all.

  35. ClaireyHewitt

    I have been known to push a shopping trolley as if it were a pram with a child trying to go to sleep in it. With no child even in the trolley.

  36. Stella Orbit

    My car is full of dinosaurs. ‘Ready, one, two, three’. Finding things for other people – at work, as I did for for a colleague on Friday.

    And I am only just getting started on the indelible marks.
    Ask me in another year.

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