Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ninja Mom

I was asked by the ladies over at Offbeat Mama to write a piece about Ashby for Mother's Day. Here it is.


Growing up I always wanted to be a ninja, but turns out I am married to one instead. I would spend my youth practicing my moves in my pajamas with a tie wrapped around my head while my wife was off rescuing drowning worms. I would study the Karate Kid trilogy for hours when my wife was scared of the TV. I had the duds, the moves and the desire- but my wife had the gift.


I didn’t know this when we met, or got married- like a true ninja she kept her true identity a secret even from those who were closest to her. One can become a ninja through a variety of ways: years of training, radioactive ooze, or meeting a nice Japanese man who works in your apartment complex.

Then there are the folks who are just born with the gift. It lays dormant for years waiting for the right moment to show the individual their destiny. For my wife, her destiny was revealed in a tub. A real mom ninja possess skills that mere mortals do not have or can never perfect.

My wife is a master of the breast pump, has advanced training in diapering and has perfected the swaddle sleeper hold. I spend my time wrestling with the baby to feed him, swaddle him, change him or reverse the current meltdown. Ashby uses her advanced combat skills to do all of the above while making dinner. It all looks like a choreographed dance, some days I think she has 6 hands.

The element of surprise is most often used at night. I will feel a poke to my side and a whisper, “The baby needs to be rocked- can you do it please?” As I am convincing my legs to work and then my arms and hopefully a piece of my brain, Ninja mom has already nursed, rocked, burped and changed by the time I get over to the crib. I never even see her move. The most impressive is the use of this skill is through song. She knows the exact song to sing to the baby at any given time to offset his mood, this is a very important ninja trait. I am still not sure who she is using the element of surprise on most of the time, me or the baby.
Improvisation and the ability to manipulate your surroundings to create anything you need is one of the most essential Mom Ninja skills. I believe that MacGyver learned everything he knows from his mom. It is about finding out how to make a lunch out of garlic and cottage cheese with no hands. It is being able to navigate a sleeping baby through the house in the dark without waking him. She possesses a keen eye to be able to find a flat level surface to change a diaper in any surrounding. Similar to origami, the art of turning a Moby into a burp cloth, shirt, jacket, purse, table cloth, diaper pad, hat (for herself or the baby), parachute or spare tire simultaneously.

I accepted long ago that I may not have what it takes to be a ninja, but it is even more comforting to know that I watch a real life ninja everyday. Ashby is very patient with me and teaches me the way of the Mom Ninja, and I learn slowly. Everyday I am in awe of how easy she makes it all look and I am consoled by the fact that, although I may never be a ninja, at least I get to be one’s sidekick.