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*Superpowers Not Included

When I was a child, I knew for a fact my parents were imbued with magical powers.  I recall one day when I was about 3 or 4 and my mother asked me to clean up my room; I did a swift pick-up, leaving dirty laundry lying on the floor, figuring what Mom didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.  I strolled into the kitchen confidently.  “Did you clean your room?”  My mother asked.  “Yep!”  I replied confidently.  “Did you pick up your underwear?”  She continued.  “No!  I didn’t!”  I replied, astonished that she knew.  (It did not occur to me at this age to bluff.)  I began badgering her; how did she know?  Was there a secret camera?  She just smiled mysteriously and sent me back to finish the job.  For me, that clinched it:  my parents were superheroes.

The rest of my childhood, my mom and dad continued to amaze me with their knowledge and tricks.  One Sunday dinner I idly asked my dad how a gun worked, and promptly received a detailed lesson on physics and gunpowder.  How did he know these things?  Did he prepare beforehand?  My mother could do amazing feats like help me make a stained-glass ornament or turn a cigar box of her dad’s into a deluxe king-size bed for my Barbie.  I assumed that I had 1) lucked out and picked the perfect parents to raise me, 2) they had been through some outstanding parent training intensive before I was born, or 3) it was this amazing osmosis thing that happens the instant you become parents – all this necessary Mommy and Daddy knowledge gets zinged into the ole noggin.
Once I became pregnant, I fervently hoped it was number 3, since I could do nothing about number 1 and in spite of all my research, I had yet to come across a pre-natal course description for the second choice.  Once I came home from the hospital with baby girl, I was pretty sure that if it was number 3, I got shafted because I felt just as Mommy-dumb as I had two days before.  I have a distinct memory of the first day my husband went back to work after his two-week paternity leave; I felt a bit panicked at being responsible for Madeleine all day long.  I remember staring at her, squirming and imperious on the changing table that morning.  I cleared my throat.  “Um, hi.”  I said to her.  “I think I’m supposed to sing to you, or something?”  She stared at me with what I was sure was derision and disappointment.  “Do you have any requests?”  Was my best comeback.
Of course, things got better, and I’ve become much more confident in the mommy role:  there’s a pretty steep learning curve with this job, after all.  There are even times – say, when I’m making a big batch of baby food for Maddie while singing to her in her bouncy seat, keeping her happy and engaged – when my husband looks at me and says to Madeleine, “Your mom is Super Mommy!”  and I feel he may be right, a bit.  I’m proud of what I’ve learned and can do for my daughter, and know that being a Mommy has made be much more on top of things than I used to be.  The other day at work, for example, we had a wine and cheese “do”, and no one thought to bring several vital supplies.  Everyone’s eyes bulged as I pulled a Swiss army knife, corkscrew, bag of napkins, and book of matches out of my bag; I simply smiled and said, “I’m a mommy!”
On the other hand, there seems to be a bunch of stuff I still don’t know, and as I consider myself a pretty well-read gal, I can’t figure out where all these other mommies took their superhero courses.  On the baby food front for example:  I found this amazing website someone on my Ivillage message board recommended called Wholesome Baby Food.  It’s a great place for info on making baby food, storing it, when to introduce what and why: you name it and it’s there.  I’ve been referring to this place a lot as I make Madeleine’s food, and was using their advice to make her some apricots.  The advice was to steam the pitted apricots, slide the skin off easily, and puree with some water. 
Have you ever tried to skin an apricot?  I steamed until the skin was clearly loosening its grip, but the sliding thing never happened.  I ended up hunched over each apricot half, peeling the skin in teeny tiny strips off of the (piping-hot-to-the-touch) apricot.  I would have left the stupid skin on and pureed the whole stupid thing, but as a first-time mommy I’m sure I’d choke my daughter on the stray piece of skin, so there I am voluntarily flaying a fruit.  I’m pretty sure I peeled off about 1/3 of the fruit with the skin, but I can guarantee you there’s no skin left in that apricot puree.
My point is this:  who other than a professional chef knows how to peel an apricot?  And how many of those people automatically know how to get yellow seedy stool out of a silk blouse?  And how many of those people also know all the words to “The Wheels on the Bus?”  I’ve just described a professional dry-cleaner who dabbles in cooking and used to work in a day-care.  See what I mean?  Write a job description for a mommy or daddy – and I mean the Super mommy or daddy we all eventually become - and you’d get no real applicants whatsoever.  Those of us that do show up have padded our resumes and lied a bit about our special skills, figuring no one’s going to be checking that thoroughly into our references.  I guess I’m just grateful my daughter’s too young to realize my superpowers have not yet shown up in the mail.
Time to get back to the baby-food making.  By the way, does anyone know how to shave a peach?


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